Imágenes de página


to throw himself into the array of the Children of Ivor, and join the insurgents, whose designs are no longer seriously disguised from him. He takes, however, the more prudent resolution of returning, in the first place, to his family; but is stopped, on the borders of the Highlands, by the magistracy, whom rumours of coming events had made more than usually suspicious, and forwarded as a prisoner to Stirling. On the march he is rescued by a band of unknown Highlanders, who ultimately convey him in safety to Edinburgh, and deposit him in the hands of his friend Fergus Mac-Ivor, who was mounting guard with his Highlanders at the antient palace of Holyrood, where the Royal Adventurer was then actually holding his court. A combination of temptations, far too powerful for such a temper, now beset Waverley; and, inflamed at once by the ill-usage he thought he had received from the government-the recollection of his hereditary predilections-his friendship and admiration of Fergus-his love for his sisterand the graceful condescension and personal solicitations of the unfortunate Prince, -he rashly vows to unite his fortunes with theirs, and enters as a volunteer in the ranks of the Children of Ivor.


During his attendance at the court of Holyrood, his passion for the magnanimous Flora is gradually abated by her continued indifference, and too entire devotion to the public cause; and his affections gradually decline upon Miss Bradwardine, who has leisure for less important concernments. He accompanies the Adventurer's army, and signalises himself in the battle of Preston, — where he has the good fortune to save the life of an English officer, who turns out to be an intimate friend of his family, and remonstrates with him with considerable effect on the rash step he has taken. It is now impossible, however, he thinks, to recede with honour; and he pursues the disastrous career of the invaders into England — during which he quarrels with, and is again reconciled to Fergus-till he is finally separated from his corps in the confusion and darkness of the night-skirmish at Clifton-and, after lurking for some time in



concealment, finds his way to London, where he is protected by the grateful friend whose life he had saved at Preston, and sent back to Scotland till some arrangements could be made about his pardon. Here he learns the final discomfiture of his former associates-is fortunate enough to obtain both his own pardon and that of old Bradwardine—and, after making sure of his interest in the heart of the young lady, at last bethinks him of going to give an account of himself to his family at Waverley-Honour.-In his way, he attends the assizes at Carlisle, where all his efforts are ineffectual to avert the fate of his gallant friend Fergus-whose heroic demeanour in that last extremity is depicted with great feeling;-has a last interview with the desolated Flora -obtains the consent of his friends to his marriage with Miss Bradwardine-puts the old Baron in possession of his forfeited manor, and, in due time, carries his blooming bride to the peaceful shades of his own paternal abode.

Such is the outline of the story;-although it is broken and diversified with so many subordinate incidents, that what we have now given will afford but a very inadequate idea even of the narrative part of the performance. Though that narrative is always lively and easy, the great charm of the work consists, undoubtedly, in the characters and descriptions-though we can scarcely venture to present our readers with more than a single specimen; and we select, as one of the most characteristic, the account of Waverley's night visit to the cave of the Highland freebooter.

"In a short time, he found himself on the banks of a large river or lake, where his conductor gave him to understand they must sit down for a little while. The moon, which now began to rise, showed obscurely the expanse of water which spread before them, and the shapeless and indistinct forms of mountains, with which it seemed to be surrounded. The cool, and yet mild air of the summer night, refreshed Waverley after his rapid and toilsome walk; and the perfume which it wafted from the birch trees, bathed in the evening dew, was exquisitely fragrant.

"He had now time to give himself up to the full romance of his situation. Here he sate on the banks of an unknown lake, under the



guidance of a wild native, whose language was unknown to him, on a visit to the den of some renowned outlaw, a second Robin Hood perhaps, or Adam o' Gordon, and that at deep midnight, through scenes of difficulty and toil, separated from his attendant, and left by his guide.

"While wrapt in these dreams of imagination, his companion gently touched him, and pointing in a direction nearly straight across the lake, said, ‘ Yon's ta cove." A small point of light was seen to twinkle in the direction in which he pointed, and, gradually increasing in size and lustre, seemed to flicker like a meteor upon the verge of the horizon. While Edward watched this phenomenon, the distant dash of oars was heard. The measured splash arrived near and more near; and presently a loud whistle was heard in the same direction. His friend with the battle-axe immediately whistled clear and shrill, in reply to the signal; and a boat, manned with four or five Highlanders, pushed for a little inlet, near which Edward was seated. He advanced to meet them with his attendant; was immediately assisted into the boat by the officious attention of two stout mountaineers; and had no sooner seated himself, than they resumed their oars, and began to row across the lake with great rapidity.

"The party preserved silence, interrupted only by the monotonous and murmured chant of a Gaelic song, sung in a kind of low recitative by the steersman, and by the dash of the oars, which the notes seemed to regulate, as they dipped to them in cadence. The light, which they now approached more nearly, assumed a broader, redder, and more irregular splendour. It appeared plainly to be a large fire; but whether kindled upon an island or the mainland, Edward could not determine. As he saw it, the red glaring orb seemed to rest on the very surface of the lake itself, and resembled the fiery vehicle in which the Evil Genius of an oriental tale traverses land and sea. They approached nearer; and the light of the fire sufficed to show that it was kindled at the bottom of a huge dark crag or rock, rising abruptly from the very edge of the water; its front, changed by the reflection to dusky red, formed a strange and even awful contrast to the banks around, which were from time to time faintly and partially enlightened by pallid moonlight.

"The boat now neared the shore, and Edward could discover that this large fire was kindled in the jaws of a lofty cavern, into which an inlet from the lake seemed to advance; and he conjectured, which was indeed true, that the fire had been kindled as a beacon to the boatmen on their return. They rowed right for the mouth of the cave; and then shipping their oars, permitted the boat to enter with the impulse which it had received. The skiff passed the little point, or platform of rock on which the fire was blazing, and running about two boats' length farther, stopped where the cavern, for it was already arched overhead, ascended from the water by five or six broad ledges of rock, so easy and regular that they might be termed natural steps. At this moment, a quantity of water was suddenly flung upon the fire, which sunk with a hissing noise, and with it disappeared the light it had hitherto afforded. Four or five active arms lifted Waverley



out of the boat, placed him on his feet, and almost carried him into the recesses of the cave. He made a few paces in darkness, guided in this manner; and advancing towards a hum of voices, which seemed to sound from the centre of the rock, at an acute turn Donald Bean Lean and his whole establishment were before his eyes.

"The interior of the cave, which here rose very high, was illuminated by torches made of pine-tree, which emitted a bright and bickering light, attended by a strong, though not unpleasant odour. Their light was assisted by the red glare of a large charcoal fire, round which were seated five or six armed Highlanders, while others were indistinctly seen couched on their plaids, in the more remote recesses of the cavern. In one large aperture, which the robber facetiously called his spence (or pantry), there hung by the heels the carcases of a sheep or ewe, and two cows, lately slaughtered.

"Being placed at a convenient distance from the charcoal fire, the heat of which the season rendered oppressive, a strapping Highland damsel placed before Waverley, Evan, and Donald Bean, three cogues, or wooden vessels, composed of staves and hoops, containing imrigh, a sort of strong soup made out of a particular part of the inside of the beeves. After this refreshment, which, though coarse, fatigue and hunger rendered palatable, steaks, roasted on the coals, were supplied in liberal abundance, and disappeared before Evan Dhu and their host with a promptitude that seemed like magic, and astonished Waverley, who was much puzzled to reconcile their voracity with what he had heard of the abstemiousness of the Highlanders. — A heath pallet, with the flowers stuck uppermost, had been prepared for him in a recess of the cave; and here, covered with such spare plaids as could be mustered, he lay for some time watching the motions of the other inhabitants of the cavern. Small parties of two or three entered or left the place without any other ceremony than a few words in Gaelic to the principal outlaw, and when he fell asleep, to a tall Highlander who acted as his lieutenant, and seemed to keep watch during his repose. Those who entered seemed to have returned from some excursion, of which they reported the success, and went without farther ceremony to the larder, where cutting with their dirks their rations from the carcases which were there suspended, they proceeded to broil and eat them at their own time and leisure.

"At length the fluctuating groups began to swim before the eyes of our hero as they gradually closed; nor did he re-open them till the morning sun was high on the lake without, though there was but a faint and glimmering twilight in the recesses of Uaimh an Ri, or the King's cavern, as the abode of Donald Bean Lean was proudly denominated.

"When Edward had collected his scattered recollection, he was surprised to observe the cavern totally deserted. Having arisen and put his dress in some order, he looked more accurately around him, but all was still solitary. If it had not been for the decayed brands of the fire, now sunk into grey ashes, and the remnants of the festival, consisting of bones half burned and half gnawed, and an empty keg or two, there remained no traces of Donald and his band.




"Near to the mouth of the cave he heard the notes of a lively Gaelic song, guided by which, in a sunny recess, shaded by a glittering birch tree, and carpetted with a bank of firm white sand, he found the damsel of the cavern, whose lay had already reached him, busy to the best of her power, in arranging to advantage a morning repast of milk, eggs, barley bread, fresh butter, and honeycomb. The poor girl had made a circuit of four miles that morning in search of the eggs, of the meal which baked her cakes, and of the other materials of the breakfast, being all delicacies which she had to beg or borrow from distant cottagers. The followers of Donald Bean Lean used little food except the flesh of the animals which they drove away from the Lowlands; bread itself was a delicacy seldom thought of, because hard to be obtained; and all the domestic accommodations of milk, poultry, butter, &c. were out of the question in this Scythian camp. Yet it must not be omitted, that although Alice had occupied a part of the morning in providing those accommodations for her guest which the cavern did not afford, she had secured time also to arrange her own person in her best trim. Her finery was very simple. A short russet-coloured jacket, and a petticoat of scanty longitude, was her whole dress; but these were clean, and neatly arranged. A piece of scarlet embroidered cloth, called the snood, confined her hair, which fell over it in a profusion of rich dark curls. The scarlet plaid, which formed part of her dress, was laid aside, that it might not impede her activity in attending the stranger. I should forget Alice's proudest ornament were I to omit mentioning a pair of gold ear-rings, and a golden rosary which her father (for she was the daughter of Donald Bean Lean) had brought from France-the plunder probably of some battle or storm.

"Her form, though rather large for her years, was very well proportioned, and her demeanour had a natural and rustic grace, with nothing of the sheepishness of an ordinary peasant. The smiles, displaying a row of teeth of exquisite whiteness, and the laughing eyes, with which, in dumb-show, she gave Waverley that morning greeting which she wanted English words to express, might have been interpreted by a coxcomb, or perhaps a young soldier, who, without being such, was conscious of a handsome person, as meant to convey more than the courtesy of a hostess. Nor do I take it upon me to say, that the little wild mountaineer would have welcomed any staid old gentleman advanced in life, the Baron of Bradwardine, for example, with the cheerful pains which she bestowed upon Edward's accommodation. She seemed eager to place him by the meal which she had so sedulously arranged, and to which she now added a few bunches of cranberries, gathered in an adjacent morass. Having had the satisfaction of seeing him seated at his breakfast, she placed herself demurely upon a stone at a few yards' distance, and appeared to watch with great complacency for some opportunity of serving him.

"Meanwhile Alice had made up in a small basket what she thought worth removing, and flinging her plaid around her, she advanced up to Edward, and, with the utmost simplicity, taking hold of his hand, offered her cheek to his salute, dropping, at the same time, her little

« AnteriorContinuar »