Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

generosity of her disposition, would have justified the affection of the most doting father.

His anxiety on her behalf did not, however, seem lo extend itself in that quarter where, according to the general opinion, it is most efficiently displayed ; in labouring, namely, to establish her in life, either by a large dowry or a wealthy marriage. By an old settlement, almost all the landed estates of the Baron went, after his death, to a distant relation; and it was supposed that Miss Bradwardine would remain but slenderly provided for, as the good gentleman's cash malters had been too long under the exclusive charge of Bailie Macwheeble, to admit of any great expectations from his personal succession. It is true, the said Bailie loved his patron and his patron's daughter next (though at an incomparable distance) 10 himself. He thought it was possible to set aside the settlement on the male line, and had actually procured an opinion to that effect (and, as he boasted, without a fee) from an eminent Scottish counsel, under whose notice he contrived to bring the point while consulting him regularly on some other business. But the Baron would not listen to such a proposal for an instant. On the contrary, he used to have a perverse pleasure in boasting that the barony of Bradwardine was a male fief, the first charter having been given at that early period when women were not deemed capable to hold a feudal grant ; because, according to Les coustusmes de Normandie, c'est l'homme ki se bast et ki conseille; or, as is yet more ungallantly expressed by other authorities, all of whose barbarous names he delighted to quote at full length, because a woman could not serve the superior, or feudal lord, in war, on account of the decorum of her sex, nor assist him with advice, because of her limited intellect, nor keep his counsel, owing to the infirmity of her disposition. He would triumphantly ask, how it would become a female, and that female a Bradwardine, to be seen employed in servitio exuendi, seu detrahendi, çaligas regis post battaliam? that is, in pulling off the king's boots after an engagement, which was the feudal service by which he held the barony of Bradwardine. “No," he said, “ beyond hesitation, procul dubio, many females, as worthy as Rose, had been excluded, in order to make way for my own succession, and Heaven forbid that I should do aught that might contravene the destination of my forefathers, or impinge upon the right of my kinsman, Malcolm Bradwardine of Inchgrabbit, an honourable though decayed branch of my own family."

The Bailie, as prime minister, having received this decisive communication from his sovereign, durst not press his own opinion any farther, but contented himself with deploring, on all suitable occasions, to Saunderson, the minister of the interior, the Laird's self-willedness, and with laying plans for uniting Rose with the young Laird of Balmawhapple, who had a fine estate, only mode

rately burdened, and was a faultless young gentleman, being as sober as a saint--if you keep brandy from him, and him from brandy-and who, in brief, had no imperfection but that of keeping light company at a time; such as Jinker, the horse-couper, and Gibby Gaethroughwi't, the piper o' Cupar; “o whilk follies, Mr. Saunderson, he'll mend, he'll mend,"--pronounced the Bailie.

“ Like sour ale in simmer,” added Davie Gellatley, who happened to be nearer the conclave than they were aware of.

Miss Bradwardine, such as we have described her, with all the simplicity and curiosit y of a recluse, attached herself to the opporlunities of increasing her store of literature which Edward's visit afforded her. He sent for some of his books from his quarters, and they opened to her sources of delight of which she had hitherto had no idea. The best English poels, of every description, and other works on belles-lettres, made a part of this precious cargo. Her music, even her flowers, were neglected, and Saunders not only mourned over, but began to mutiny against the labour for which he now scarce received thanks. These new pleasures became gradually enhanced by sharing them with one of a kindred taste. Edward's readiness to coinment, to recite, to explain difficult passages, rendered his assistance invaluable; and the wild romance of his spirit delighted a character too young and inexperienced to observe its deficiencies. Upon subjects which interested him, and when quite at ease, he possessed that flow of natural, and somewhat florid eloquence, which has been supposed as powerful even as figure, fashion, fame, or fortune, in winning the female heart. There was, therefore, an increasing danger, in this constant intercourse, to poor Rose's peace of mind, which was the more imminent, as her father was greatly too much abstracted in his studies, and wrapped up in his own dignity, to dream of his daughter's incurring il. The daughters of the house of Bradwardine were, in his opinion, like those of the house of Bourbon or Austria, placed high above the clouds of passion which might obfuscate the intellects of meaner females ; they moved in another sphere, were governed by other feelings, and amenable to other rules, than those of idle and fantastic affection. In shorl, he shut his eyes so resolutely to the nalural consequences of Edward's intimacy with Miss Bradwardine, that the whole neighbourhood concluded that he had opened them to the advantages of a match between his daughter and the wealthy young Englishman, and pronounced him much less a fool than he had generally shown himself in cases where his own interest was concerned.

If the Baron, however, had really meditated such an alliance, The indifference of Waverley would have been an insuperable bar to his project. Our hero, since mixing more freely with the world, had learned to think with great shame and confusion upon his

mental legend of Saint Cecilia, and the vexation of the reftecliops was likely, for some time at least, to counterbalance the natural susceptibility of his disposition. Besides, Rose Bradwardine, beautiful and amiable as we have described her, had not precisely the sort of beauty or merit which captivites a romantic imagination in early youth. She was too frank, too confiding, too kind; amiables qualities, undoubtedly, but destructive of the marvellous, with which a youth of imagination delights to dress the empress of his affections. Was it possible to bow, to tremble, and to adore, before the timid, yet playful little girl, who now asked Edward to mend her pen, now lo construe a stanza in Tasso, and now how to spell a very very long word in her version of il ? All these incidents have their fascination on the mind at a certain period of life, but not when a youth is enlering it, and rather looking out for some object whose affection may dignify him in his own eyes, than stooping to one who looks up to him for such distinction. Hence, though there can be no rule in so capricious a passion, early love is frequently ambitious in choosing its objects; or, which comes to the same, selects her (as in the case of Saint Cecilia aforesaid) from a situation that gives fair scope for le beau ideal, which the reality of intimale and familiar life rather tends to limit and impair. I knew a very accomplished and sensible young man cured of a violent passion for a prelty woman, whose talents were not equal to her face and figure, by being permitted to bear her company for a whole afternoon. Thus, it is certain, that had Edward enjoyed such an opportunity of conversing with Miss Stubbs, Aunt Rachel's precaution would have been unnecessary, for he would as soon have fallen in love with the dairy-maid. And although Miss Bradwardine was a very different character, it seems probable that the very intimacy of their intercourse prevented his feeling for her other sentiments than those of a brother for an amiable and accomplished sister; while the sentiments of poor Rose were gradually, and without her being conscious, assuming a shade of warmer affeclion.

I ought to have said that Edward, when he sent to Dundee for the books before mentioned, had applied for, and received, permission extending his leave of absence. But the letter of his commanding officer contained a friendly recommendation to him not lo spend his time exclusively with persons who, estimable as they might be in a general sense, could not be supposed well affected to a government which they declined to acknowledge by taking the oath of allegiance. The letter further insinuated, though with great delicacy, that although some family connexions might be supposed to render it necessary for Captain Waverley to communicate with gentlemen who were in this unpleasant state of suspicion, yet his father's situation and wishes ought to prevent his prolonging those

attentions into exclusive intimacy. And it was intimated, that while his political principles were endangered by communicating with laymen of this description, he might also receive erroneous impressions in religion from the prelalic clergy, who so perversely laboured to set up the royal prerogative in things sacred.

This last insinuation probably induced Waverley to set both down to the prejudices of his commanding officer. He was sensible that Mr. Bradwardine had acted with the most scrupulous delicacy, in never entering upon any discussion that had the most remote tendency to bias his mind in political opinions, although he was himself not only a decided partisan of the exiled family, but had been trusted at different times with important commissions for their service. Sensible, therefore, that there was no risk of his being perverted from his allegiance, Edward felt as if he should do his uncle's old friend injustice in removing from a house where he gave and received pleasure and amusement, merely to gralify a prejudiced and ill-judged suspicion. He therefore wrote a very general answer, assuring bis commanding officer that his loyalty was not in the most distant danger of contamination, and conlinued an honoured guest and inmate of the house of TullyVeolan.

CHAPTER XV.

A CREAGH ', AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.

WHEN Edward had been a guest at Tully-Veolan nearly six weeks, he descried, one morning, as he took his usual walk before the breakfast-hour, signs of uncommon perturbation in the family. Four bare-legged dairy-maids, with each an empty milk-pail in her hand, ran about with frantic gestures, and ultering loud exclamalions of surprise, grief, and resentment. From their appearance, a pagan might have conceived them a detachment of the celebrated Belides, just come from their baleing penance. As nothing was to be got from this distracted chorus, excepting “Lord guide us!” and “Eh sirs ! ejaculations which threw no lighl upon the cause of their dismay, Waverley repaired to the fore-court, as it was called, where he beheld Bailie Macwheeble cantering his white pony down the avenue with all the speed it could muster. He had arrived, it would seem, upon a hasty summons, and was followed by half a score of peasants from the village, who had no great difficulty in keeping pace with him.

'A creagh was an incursion for plunder, termed on the Borders a raid.

The Bailie, greatly too busy, and too important, to enter into explanations with Edward, summoned forth Mr. Saunderson, who appeared with a countenance in which dismay was mingled with solemnity, and they immediately entered into close conference. Davie Gellatley was also seen in the group, idle as Diogenes at Sinope, while his countrymen were preparing for a siege. His spirits always rose with any thing, good or bad, which occasioned lumult, and he continued frisking, hopping, dancing, and singing the burden of an old ballad,

“Our gear's a' gane,"

until, happening to pass loo near the Bailie, he received an admonitory hint from his horse-whip, which converted his songs into lamentation.

Passing from thence towards the garden, Waverley beheld the Baron in person, measuring and re-measuring, with swist and tremendous strides, the length of the terrace; his countenance clouded with offended pride and indignation, and the whole of his demeanour such as seemed to indicate, that any inquiry concerning the cause of his discomposure would give pain at least, if not offence. Waverley therefore glided into the house, wilhout addressing him, and took his way to the breakfast-parlour, where he found his young friend Rose, who, though she neither exhibited the resentment of her father, the turbid importance of Bailie Macwheeble, nor the despair of the handmaidens, seemed vexed and thoughtful. A single word explained the mystery. “Your breakfast will be a disturbed one, Caplain Waverley. A party of Caterans have come down upon us last night, and have driven off all our milch cows."

“A party of Caterans?”

“ Yes; robbers from the neighbouring Highlands. We used to be quite free from them while we paid black-mail to Fergus MacIvor Vich Ian Vohr; but my father thought it unworthy of his rank and birth to pay it any longer, and so this disaster has happened. It is not the value of the cattle, Captain Waverley, that vexes me; but my father is so much hurt at the affront, and is so bold and hot, that I fear he will try to recover them by the strong hand; and if he is not hurt himself, he will hurt some of these wild people, and then there will be no peace between them and us perhaps for our lifetime; and we cannot defend ourselves as in old times for the government have taken all our arms; and my dear father is so rash - what will become of us!”—Here poor Rose lost heart altogether, and burst into a flood of tears.

The Baron entered at this moment, and rebuked her with more asperity than Waverley had ever heard him use to any one. it not a shame," he said, “That she should exhibit herself before any

66 Was

« AnteriorContinuar »