Imágenes de página

Veolan was situated. He then jumped down into the bed of the stream, and, followed by Waverley, proceeded at a great pace, climbing over some fragments of rock, and turning with difficulty round others. They passed beneath the ruins of the castle; Waverley followed, keeping up with his guide with difficulty, for the twilight began to fall. Following the descent of the stream a little lower, he totally lost him, but a twinkling light, which he now discovered among the tangled copse-wood and bushes, seemed a surer guide. He soon pursued a very uncouth path; and by its guidance at length reached the door of a wretched hut. A fierce barking of dogs was at first heard, but it stilled at his approach. A voice sounded from within, and he held it most prudent to listen before he advanced.

“Wha hast thou brought here, thou unsopsy villain, thou?" said an old woman, apparently in great indignation. He heard Davie Gellatley, in answer, whistle a part of the tune by which he had recalled bimself to the simpleton's memory, and had now no hesitation to knock at the door. There was a dead silence instantly within, except the deep growling of the dogs; and he next heard the mistress of the hut approach the door, not probably for the sake of undoing a latch, but of fastening a bolt. To prevent this, Waverley lifted the latch himself.

In front was an old wretched-looking woman, exclaiming, “Wha comes into folk's houses in this gate, at this time o' the night?” On one side, two grim and half-starved deer greyhounds laid aside their ferocity at his appearance, and seemed to recognize him. On the other side, half concealed by the open door, yet apparently seeking that concealment reluctantly, with a cocked pistol in his right hand, and his left in the act of drawing another from his belt, stood a tall bony gaunt figure in the remnants of a faded uniform, and a beard of three weeks' growth.

It was the Baron of Bradwardine. It is unnecessary to add, that he threw aside his weapon, and greeted Waverley with a hearty embrace.


Comparing of Notes. The Baron's story was short, when divested of the adages and common-places, Latin, English, and Scotch, with which his erudition garnished it. He insisted much upon his grief at the loss of Edward and of Glennaquoich, fought the fields of Falkirk and Culloden, and related how, after all was lost in the last battle, he had returned home, under the idea of more easily finding shelter among his own tenants, and on his own estate, than elsewhere. A party of soldiers had been sent to lay waste his property, for clemency was not the order of the day. Their proceedings, however, were checked by an order from the civil court. The estate, it was found, might not be forfeited to the crown, to the prejudice of Malcolm Bradwardine of Inch - Grabbit, the heir-male, whose claim could not be prejudiced by the Baron's attainder, as deriving no right through him, and who, therefore, like other heirs of entail in the same situation, entered upon possession. But, unlike many in similar circumstances, the new laird speedily showed that he intended utterly to exclude his predecessor from all benefit or advantage in the estate, and that it was his purpose to avail himself of the old Baron's evil fortune to the full extent. This was the more ungenerous, as it was generally known, that, from a romantic idea of not prejudicing this young man's right as heir-male, the Baron had refrained from settling his estate on his daughter.

This selfish injustice was resented by the country-people, who were partial to their old master, and irritated against his succes

In the Baron's own words, “The matter did not coincide with the feelings of the commons of Bradwardine, Mr. Waverley; and the tenants were slack and repugnant in payment of their mails and duties; and when my kinsman came to the village wi' the new factor, Mr. James Howie, to lift the rents, some wanchancy person

I suspect John Heatherblutter, the auld gamekeeper, that was out wi' me in the year fisteen – fired a shot at him in the gloaming, whereby he was so affrighted, that I may say with Tullius in Catilinam, Abiit, evasit, erupit, effugit. He fled, Sir, as one may say, incontinent to Stirling. And now he hath advertised the estate


for sale, being himself the last substitute in the entail. And if I were to lament about sic matters, this would grieve me mair than its passing from my immediate possession, whilk, by the course of nature, must have happened in a few years. Whereas now it passes from the lineage that should have possessed it in sæcula sæculorum. But God's will be done, humana perpessi sumus. Sir John of Bradwardine - Black Sir John, as he is called -- who was the common ancestor of our house and the Inch-Grabbits, little thought such a person would have sprung from his loins. Meantime, he has accused me to some of the primates, the rulers for the time, as if I were a cut-throat, and an abettor of bravoes and assassinates, and coupe-jarrets. And they have sent soldiers here to abide on the estate, and hunt me like a partridge upon the mountains, as Scripture says of good King David, or like our valliant Sir William Wallace, pot that I bring myself into comparison with either. I thought, when I heard you at the door, they had driven the auld deer to his den at last; and so I e'en proposed to die at bay, like a buck of the first head. — But now, Janet, canna ye gie us something for supper?”

“Ou ay, Sir, I'll brander the moor-fowl that John Heatherblutter brought in this morning; and ye see puir Davie's roasting the black hen's eggs. – I daur say, Mr. Wauverley, ye never kend that a' the eggs that were sae weel roasted at supper in the Ha'house were aye turned by our Davie ? there 's no the like o' him ony gate for powtering wi' his fingers amang thé het peat-ashes, and roasting eggs.” Davie all this while lay with his nose almost in the fire, nuzzling among the ashes, kicking his heels, mumbling to himself, turning the eggs as they lay in the hot embers, as if to confute the proverb, that “there goes reason to roasting of eggs," and justify the eulogium which poor Janet poured out upon

" Him whom she loved, ber idiot boy." “Davie 's no sae silly as folk tak him for, Mr. Wauverley; he wadna bae brought you here unless he had kend ye was a friend to his Honour indeed the very dogs kend ye, Mr. Wauverley, for ye was aye kind to beast and body. I can tell you a story o’ Davie, wi' his Honour's leave: His Honour, ye see, being under hiding in thae sair times - the mair 's the pity – he lies a' day,

[ocr errors]

and whiles a' night, in the cove in the dern hag; but though it's a bieldy eneugh bit, and the auld gudeman o' Corse-Cleugh has panged it wi'a kemple o' strae amaist, yet when the country's quiet, and the night very cauld, his Honour whiles creeps doun here to get a warm at the ingle, and a sleep amang the blankets and gangs awa in the morning. And so, ae morning, siccan a fright as I got! Twa unlucky red-coats were up for black-fishing, or some siccan ploy for the neb o' them's never out o' mischief - and they just got a glisk o' his Honour as he gaed into the wood, and banged aff a gun at him. I out like a jer-falcon, and cried,

"Wad they shoot an honest woman's poor innocent bairn?' And I fleyt at them, and threepit it was my son; and they damned and swuir at me that it was the auld rebel, as the villains ca'd his Honour; and Davie was in the wood, and heard the tuilzie, and he, just out o' his ain head, got up the auld grey mantle that his Honour had flung off him to gang the faster, and he cam out o' the very same bit o' the wood, majoring and looking about sae like his Honour, that they were clean beguiled, and thought they had letten aff their gun at crack-brained Sawney, as they ca' him; and they gae me saxpence, and twa saumon fish, to say naething about it. Na, na, Davie 's no just like other folk, puir fallow; but he's no sae silly as folk tak him for. – But, to be sure, how can we do eneugh for his Honour, when we and ours have lived on his ground this twa hundred years; and when he keepit my puir Jamie at school and college, and even at the Ha’-house, till he gaed to a better place; and when he saved me frae being ta'en to Perth as a witch

- Lord forgi'e them that would touch sic a puir silly auld body! - and has maintained puir Davie at heck and manger maist feck o' his life?"

Waverley at length found an opportunity to interrupt Janet's narrative, by an inquiry after Miss Bradwardine.

“She's weel and safe, thank God! at the Duchran," answered the Baron; "the laird 's distantly related to us, and more nearly to my chaplain, Mr. Rubrick; and, though he be of Whig principles, yet he 's not forgetful of auld friendship at this time. The Ballie's doing what he can to save something out of the wreck for

puir Rose; but I doubt, I doubt, I shall never see her again, for I maun lay my banes in some far country.”

“Hout, na, your Honour," said old Janet, "ye were just as ill aff in the feifteen, and got the bonnie baronie back, an'a'. And now the eggs is ready, and the muir-cock 's brandered, and there 's ilk ane a trencher and some saut, and the heel o' the white loaf that cam frae the Bailie's; and there's plenty o' brandy in the greybeard that Luckie Maclearie sent doun, and winna ye be suppered like princes?”

“I wish one Prince, at least, of our acquaintance, may be no worse off," said the Baron to Waverley, who joined him in cordial hopes for the safety of the unfortunate Chevalier.

They then began to talk of their future prospects. The Baron's plan was very simple. It was, to escape to France, where, by the interest of his old friends, he hoped to get some military employment, of which he still conceived himself capable. He invited Waverley to go with him, a proposal in which he acquiesced, providing the interest of Colonel Talbot should fail in procuring his pardon. Tacitly he hoped the Baron would sanction his addresses to Rose, and give him a right to assist him in his exile; but he sorbore to speak on this subject until his own fate should be decided. They then talked of Glennaquoich, for whom the Baron expressed great anxiety, although, he observed, he was “the very Achilles of Horatius Flaccus,

Impiger, iracundus, inexorabilis, acer. Which," he continued, “has been thus rendered (vernacularly) by Siruan Robertson:

A fiery etler-cap a fractious cbiel,

As het as ginger, and as stieve as steel." Flora had a large and unqualified share of the good old man's sympathy.

It was now wearing late. Old Janet got into some kind of kennel behind the hallan; Davie had been long asleep and snoring between Ban and Buscar. These dogs had followed him to the hut after the mansion-house was deserted, and there constantly resided; and their ferocity, with the old woman's reputation of being a witch, contributed a good deal to keep visitors from the

« AnteriorContinuar »