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« It will be just like Duncan Mac-Girdie's mare,» said Evan, « if your ladyships please; he wanted to use her by degrees to live without meat, and just as he had put her on a straw aday the poor thing died!»
Evan's illustration set the company a-laughing, and the discourse took a different turn. Shortly afterwards the party broke up, and Edward returned home, musing on what Flora had said. «I will love my Rosalind no more, » said he; «she has given me a broad enough hint for that; and I will speak to her brother, and resign my suit. But for a Juliet-would it be handsome to interfere with Fergus's pre. tensions? Though it is impossible they can ever succeed : and should they miscarry, what then?- why then alors comme alors.» And with this resolution, of being guided by circumstances, did our hero commit himself to repose.
A brave Man in Sorrow.
If my fair readers should be of opinion that my hero's levity in love is altogether unpardonable, I must remind them, that all his griefs and difficulties did not arise from that sentimental source.
Even the lyric poet, who complains so feelingly of the pains of love, could not forget, that, at the same time, he was a in debt and in drink,» which, doubtless, were great aggravations of his distress. There were, indeed, whole days in which Waverley thought neither of Flora or Rose Bradwardine, but which were spent in melancholy conjectures upon the probable state of matters at Waverley-Honour, and the dubious issue of the civil contest in which he was engaged. Colonel Talbot often engaged him in discussions upon the justice of the cause he had espoused. « Not,» he said, « that it is possible for you to quit it at this present moment, for, come what
will, you must stand by your rash engagement. But I wish you to be aware that the right is not with
you are fighting against the real interests of your country; and that you ought, as an Englishman and a patriot, to take the first opportunity to leave this unhappy expedition before the snow-ball melt.»
In such political disputes, Waverley usually opposed the common arguments of his party, with which it is unnecessary to trouble the reader. But he had little to say when the Colonel urged him to compare the strength by which they had undertaken to overthrow the government, with that which was now assembling very rapidly for its support. To this statement Waverley bad but one answer: « If the cause I have undertaken be perilous, there would be the greater disgrace in abandoning it.» And in his turn he generally silenced Colonel Talbot, and succeeded in changing the subject.
One night, when, after a long dispute of this nature, the friends had separated, and our hero had retired to bed, he was awakened about midnight by a suppressed groan.
He started up and listened; it came from the apartment of Colonel Talbot, which was divided from his own by a wainscotted partition, with a door of communication. Waverley approached this door, and distinctly heard one or two deep-drawn sighs. What could be the matter? The Colonel had parted from him, apparently, in his usual state of spirits. He must have been taken suddenly ill. Under this impression, he opened the door of communication very gently, and perceived the Colonel, in his night-gown, seated by a table, on which lay a letter and picture. He raised his head hastily, as Edward stood uncertain whether to advance or retire, and Waverley perceived that his cheeks were stained with tears.
As if ashamed at being found giving way to such emotion, Colonel Talbot rose with apparent displeasure. «I think, Mr Waverley, my own apartment, and the hour, might have secured even a prisoner against»
« Do not say intrusion, Colonel Talbot; I heard you breathe hard, and feared you were ill; that alone could have induced me to break in upon you.»
« I am well,» said the Colonel, « perfectly well.»
« But you are distressed: is there any thing can be done?»
« Nothing, Mr Waverley; I was only thinking of home, and some unpleasant occurrences there.» «Good God, my uncle!»
! « No, it is a grief entirely my own; I am ashamed
should have seen it 'disarm me so much; but it must have its course at times, that it may be at others more decently support
ed. I would have kept it secret from you;. for I think it will grieve you, and yet you can administer no consolation. But you have surprised me.--I see you are surprised yourself,—and I hate mystery. Read that letter.»
The letter was from Colonel Talbot's sister, and in these words:
. I received yours, my dearest brother, by Hodges. Sir E. W. and Mr R. are still at large, but are not permitted to leave London. I wish to heaven I could give you as good an account of matters in the square. But the news of the unhappy affair at Preston came upon us, with the dreadful addition that you were among
the fallen. You know Lady Emily's state of health, when your friendship for Sir E. induced you to leave her. She was much harassed with the sad accounts from Scotland of the rebellion having broken out; but kept up her spirits, as, she said, it became your wife, and for the sake of the future heir, so long hoped for in vain. Alas, my dear brother, these hopes are now ended! notwithstanding all my watchful care, this unhappy rumour reached her without preparation. She was taken ill immediately; and the
infant scarce survived its birth. Would to God this were all! But although the contradiction of the horrible report by your own letter has greatly revived her spirits, yet Dr--apprehends, I grieve to say,
serious, and even dangerous, consequences to