Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

amenable to other rules, than those of idle and fantastic affection. In short, he shut his eyes so resolutely to the natural 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 these reflections 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 captivates a romantic imagination in early youth. She was too frank, too confiding, too kind: amiable 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 to construe a stanza in Tasso, and now how to spell a very — very long word in her version of it? All these incidents have their fascination on the mind at a certain period of life, but not when a youth is entering 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 object; 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 intimate 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 pretty woman, whose talents were not equal to her face and figure, by being permitted to bear her company for a whole after

noon. 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 affection.

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 to 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 farther 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 prelatic clergy, who so perversely laboured to set up the royal prerogative in things sacred.

This last insinuation probably induced Waver 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 gratify a prejudiced and ill-judged suspicion. He therefore wrote a very general answer, assuring his commanding officer that his loyalty was not in the most distant danger of contamination, and continued an honoured guest and intimate of the house of Tully-Veolan.

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 uttering loud exclamations 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 light 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.

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,

A creagh was an incursion for plunder, termed on the Borders

a raid.

which occasioned tumult, and he continued frisking, hopping, dancing, and singing the burden of an old ballad,

"Our gear's a' gane," until, happening to pass too 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 swift 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, without 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, Captain Waverley. A party of Caterans have come down upon us last night, and have driven off all our milch cows." “A party of Caterans ?"

robbers from the neighbouring Highlands. We used to be quite free from them while we paid black-mail to Fergus Mac-Ivor 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,

“Yes;

"Was it not a shame,” he said, “that she should exhibit herself before any gentleman in such a light, as if she shed tears for a drove of horned nolt and milch kine, like the daughter of a Cheshire yeoman! - Captain Waverley, I must request your favourable construction of her grief, which may, or ought to proceed, solely from seeing her father's estate exposed to spulzie and depredation from common thieves and sornars, * while we are not allowed to keep half a score of muskets, whether for defence or rescue.”

Bailie Macwhecble entered immediately afterwards, and by his report of arms and ammunition confirmed this statement, informing the Baron, in a melancholy voice, that though the people would certainly obey his honour's orders, yet there was no chance of their following the gear to ony guid purpose, in respect there were only his honour's body servants who had swords and pistols, and the depredators were twelve Highlanders, completely armed after the manner of their country. Having delivered this doleful annunciation, he assumed a posture of silent dejection, shaking his head slowly with the motion of a pendulum when it is ceasing to vibrate, and then remained stationary, his body stooping at a more acute angle than usual, and the latter part of his person projecting in proportion.

The Baron, meanwhile, paced the room in silent indignation, and at length fixing his eye upon an old portrait, whose person was clad in armour, and whose features glared grimly out of a huge bush of hair, part of which descended from his head to his shoulders, and part from his chin and upper-lip to his breastplate, “That gentleman, Captain Waverley, my grandsire, he said, “with two hundred horse, whom he levied within his own bounds, discomfited and put to the rout more than five hundred of these Highland reivers, who have been ever lapis offensionis et petra scandali, a stumbling-block aud a rock of offence to the Lowland vicinage

he discomfited them, I say, when they had the temerity to descend to barry this country,

in Sornars may be translated sturdy beggars, more especially indi. cating these unwelcome visitors who exact lodgings and victuals by force, or something approaching to it. Waverley.

7

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »