Imágenes de página

during his sleep. The mysterious appearance of Alice, in the cottage of the glen, immediately rushed upon his mind, and he was about to secure and examine the packet which she had deposited among his clothes, when the servant of Colonel Stuart again made his appearance, and took up the portmanteau upon his shoulders.

"May I not take out a change of linen, my friend?" "Your honour sall get ane o' the colonel's ain ruffled sarks, but this maun gang in the baggage-cart."

And so saying, he very coolly carried off the portmanteau, without waiting further remonstrance, leav ing our hero in a state where disappointment and indignation struggled for the mastery. In a few minutes he heard a cart rumble out of the rugged courtyard, and made no doubt that he was now dispossessed, for a space at least, if not for ever, of the only documents which seemed to promise some light upon the dubious events which had of late influenced his destiny. With such melancholy thoughts he had to beguile about four or five hours of solitude.

When this space was elapsed, the trampling of horses was heard in the court-yard, and Colonel Stuart soon after made his appearance to request his guest to take some farther refreshment before his departure. The offer was accepted; for a late breakfast had by no means left our hero incapable of doing honour to dinner which was now, presented. The conversation of his host was that of a plain country gentleman, mixed with some soldier-like sentiments and expressions. He cautiously avoided any reference to the military operations, or civil politics of the time; and to Waverley's direct inquiries concerning some of these points, replied equally directly, that he was not at liberty to converse upon such topics.

When dinner was finished, the governor arose and wished Edward a good journey, told him that his servant having informed him that his baggage had been sent forward, he had taken the freedom to sup

ply him with such changes of linen as he might find necessary till he was again possessed of his own; with this compliment he disappeared. A servant acquainted Waverley an instant afterwards, that his horse was ready.

Upon this hint he descended into the court-yard, and found a trooper holding a saddled horse, on which he mounted, and sallied from the portal of Doune Castle, attended by about a score of armed men on horseback. These had less the appearance of regular soldiers than of individuals who had suddenly assumed arms from some pressing motive of unexpected emergency. Their uniform, which was an affected imitation of that of French chasseurs, was in many respects incomplete, and sat awkwardly upon those who wore it. Waverley's eye, accustomed to look at a well disciplined regiment, could easily discover that the motions and habits of his escort were not those of trained soldiers, and that although expert enough in the management of their horses, their skill was that of huntsmen or grooms, rather than of troopers. Their horses were not trained to the regular pace so necessary to execute simultaneous and combined movements and formations; nor did they seem bitted (as it is technically expressed) for the use of the sword. The men, however, were stout, hardy looking fellows, and might be individually formidable as irregular cavalry. The commander of this small party was mounted upon an excellent hunter, and although dressed in uniform, his change of apparel did not prevent Waverley from recognising his old acquaintance, Mr. Falconer of Balmawhapple.

"Now, although the terms upon which Edward had met with this gentleman were none of the most friendly, he would have sacrificed every recollection of their foolish quarrel, for the pleasure of enjoying once more the social intercourse of question and answer, from which he had been so long secluded. But apparently the remembrance of his defeat by the

[blocks in formation]

Baron of Bradwardine, of which Edward had been the unwilling cause, still rankled in the mind of the low-bred, and yet proud, laird. He carefully avoided giving the least sign of recognition, riding doggedly at the head of his men, who though scarce equal in numbers to a sergeant's party, were denominated Captain Falconer's troop, being proceeded by a trumpet, which sounded from time to time, and a standard, borne by Cornet Falconer, the laird's younger brother. The lieutenant, an elderly man, had much the air of a low sportsman and boon companion; the expression of dry humour predominated in his countenance over features of a vulgar cast, which indicated habitual intemperance. His cocked hat was set knowingly upon one side of his head, and while he whistled the "Bob of Dumblain," under the influence of half a mutchkin of brandy, he seemed to trot merrily forwards, with a happy indifference to the state of the country, the conduct of the party, the end of the journey, and all other sublunary matters whatsoever.

From this wight, who now and then dropped along. side of his horse, Waverley hoped to acquire some information, or at least to beguile the way with talk. "A fine evening, sir," was Edward's salutation.

"Ow, ay! a bra' night," replied the lieutenant, in broad Scotch of the most vulgar description.

"And a fine harvest, apparently," continued Waverley, following up his first attack.

"Ay, the aits will be got bravely in; but the farmers, deil burst them, and the corn-mongers, will make the auld price gude against them as has horses till keep."

"You perhaps act as quarter-master, sir?",

"Ay, quarter-master, riding-master, and lieuten


And to be sure, whae's fitter to look after the breaking and the keeping of the puir beasts than mysell, that bought and sold every one of them?

And pray, sir, if it be not too great a freedom, may I beg to know where we are going just now?" "A fule's errand, I fear," answered this communicative personage.

"In that case I should have thought a person of your appearance would not have been found upon the road."

"Vera true, vera true, sir-but every why has its wherefore; ye maun ken the laird there bought a thir beasts frae me to munt his troop, and agreed to pay for them according to the necessities and prices of the time. But then he had na the ready penny, and I hae been advised his bond will no be worth a boddle against the estate, and then I had a' my dealers to settle with at Martimas; and so as he very kindly offered me this commission, and as the auld fifteen wad never help me to my siller for sending out naigs against the government, why, conscience! sir, I thought my best chance for payment was e'en to gae out mysell; and ye may judge, sir, as I hae dealt a' my life in the halters, I think nae mickle o' putting my craig in peril of a St. Johnstone's tippet.'

[ocr errors]

"You are not, then by profession a soldier?"

"Na, na, thank God, answered this doughty partizan, "I was na bred at sae short a tether; I was brought up to hack and manger: I was bred a horsecouper, sir; and if I might live to see you at Whitsontryst, or at Stagshaw-bank, or the winter fair at Hawick, and ye wanted a spanker that would lead the field, I'se be caution I would serve ye asy, for Jamie Jinker was ne'er the lad to impose upon a gentleman. Ye're a gentleman, sir an should ken a horse's points; ye see that throughgging thing that Balmawhapple's on; I selled her till him. She was bred out of Lick the-Laddle, which wan the king's plate at Caverton-Edge, by Duke Hamilton's Dusty-foot," &c. &c. &c.

But as Jinker was entering full sail upon the pedigree of Balmawhapple's mare, having already got as

far as great grandsire and grand-dam, and while Waverley was watching for an opportunity to obtain from him intelligence of more interest, the noble captain checked his horse until they came up, and then, without directly appearing to notice Edward, said sternly to the genealogist, "I thought, lieutenant, my or ders were precise, that no one should speak to the prisoner?"

The metamorphosed horse-dealer was silenced, of course, and slunk to the rear, where he consoled himself by entering into a vehement dispute upon the price of hay with a farmer, who had reluctantly followed his laird to the field, rather than give up his farm, whereof the lease had just expired. Waverley was therefore, once more consigned to silence, foreseeing that farther attempts at conversation with any of the party would only give Balmawhapple a wished-for opportunity to display the insolence of authority, and the sulky spite of a temper naturally dogged, and rendered more so by habits of low indulgence and the incense of servile adulation.

In about two hour's time the party were near the Castle of Stirling, over whose battlements the union flag was brightening as it waved in the evening sun. To shorten his journey, or perhaps to displayed his importance and insult the English garrison, Balmawhapple, inclining to the right, took his rout through the royal park, which reaches to, and surrounds the rock upon which the fortress is situated.

With a mind more at ease, Waverley could not have failed to admire the mixture of romance and beauty which renders interesting the scene through which he was now passing-the field which had been the scene of the tournaments of old-the rock from which the ladies beheld the contest, while each made vows for the success of some favourite knight-the towers of the gothic church where these vows might be paid and, surmounting all, the fortress itself, at once a castle and palace, where valour received the

« AnteriorContinuar »