Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

might have been expected from the Colonel's receiving no answer to the first. It reminded Waverley of his duty, as a man of honour, an officer, and a Briton; took notice of the increasing dissatisfaction of his men, and that some of them had been heard to hint, that their Captain encouraged and approved of their mutinous behaviour; and, finally, the writer expressed the utmost regret and surprise that he had not obeyed his commands by repairing to head-quarters, reminded him that his leave of absence had been recalled, and conjured him, in a style in which paternal remonstrance was mingled with military authority, to redeem his error by immediately joining his regiment. “ That I may be certain,", concluded the letter, " that this actually reaches you, I despatch it by Corporal Tims, of your troop, with orders to deliver it into your own hands.”

Upon reading these letters, Waverley, with great bitterness of feeling, was compelled to make the amende honorable to the memory of the brave and excellent writer; for surely, as Colonel Gardiner must have had every reason to conclude they had come safely to hand, less could not follow, on their being neglected, than that third and final summons, which Waverley actually received at Glennaquoich, though too late to obey it

. And his being superseded, in consequence of his apparent neglect of this last command, was so far from being a harsh or severe proceeding, that it was plainly inevitable. The next letter he unfolded was from the Major of the regiment, acquainting him that a report, to the disadvantage of his reputation, was public in the country, stating, that one Mr Falconer of Ballihopple, or some such name, had proposed, in his presence, a treasonable toast, which he permitted to pass in silence, although it was so gross an affront to the royal family, that a gentleman in company, not remarkable for his zeal for government, had nevertheless taken the matter up, and that, supposing the account true, Captain Waverley had thus suffered another, comparatively unconcerned, to resent an affront directed against him personally as an officer, and to go out with the person by whom it was offered. The Major concluded, that no one of Captain Waverley's brother officers could believe this scandalous story, but that it was necessarily their joint opinion that his own honour, equally with that of the regiment, depended upon its being instantly contradicted by his authority, &c. &c. &c.

“ What do you think of all this?” said Colonel Talbot, to whom Waverley handed the letters after he had perused them.

66 Think! it renders thought impossible. It is enough to drive me mad."

“Be calm, my young friend ; let us see what are these dirty scrawls that follow."

The first was addressed, “ For Master W. Ruffin These.”_“Dear sur, sum of our yong gulpins will not bite, thof I tuold them you shoed me the 'squoire's own seel. But Tims will deliver you the lettrs as desired, and tell ould Addem he gave them to squoir's hond, as to be sure yours is the same, and shall be ready for signal, and hoy for Hoy Church and Sachefrel, as fadur sings at harvest-whome. Yours, deer Sur,

“H. H."

“ Poscriff.-Do’e tell squoire we longs to heer from him, and has dootings about his not writing himself, and Lifetenant Bottler is smoky.

“ This Ruffin, I suppose, then, is your Donald of the Cavern, who has intercepted your letters, and carried on a correspondence with the poor devil Houghton, as if under your authority ?' “ It seems too true. But who can Addem be?”

Possibly Adam, for poor Gardiner, a sort of pun upon his name." The other letters were to the same purpose, and they soon received yet more complete light upon Donald Bean's machinations.

John Hodges, one of Waverley's servants, who had remained with the regiment, and had been taken at Preston, now made his appearance. He had sought out his master, with the purpose of again entering his service. From this fellow they learned, that some time after Waverley had gone from the head-quarters of the regiment, à pedlar, called Ruthven, Ruffin, or Rivane, known among the soldiers by the name of Wily Will, had made frequent visits to the town of Dundee. He appeared to possess plenty of money, sold his commodities very cheap, seemed always willing to treat his friends at the ale-house, and easily ingratiated himself with many of Waverley's troop, particularly Sergeant Houghton, and one Tims, also a noncommissioned officer. To these he unfolded, in Waverley's name, a plan for leaving the regiment and joining him in the Highlands, where report said the clans had already taken arms in great numbers. The men, who had been educated as Jacobites, so far as they had any opinion at all, and who knew their landlord, Sir Everard, had always been supposed to hold such tenets, easily fell into the snare. That Waverley was at a distance in the Highlands, was received as a sufficient excuse for transmitting his letters through the medium of the pedlar; and the sight of his well-known seal seemed to authenticate the negotiations in his name, where writing might have been danger

The cabal, however, began to take air, from the premature mutinous language of those concerned. Wily Will justified his appellative; for, after suspicion arose, he was seen no more. When the Gazette appeared, in which Waverley was superseded, great part of his troop broke out into actual mutiny, but were surrounded and disarmed by the rest of the regiment. In consequence of the sentence of a court-martial, Houghton and Tims were condemned to be shot, but afterwards permitted to cast lots for life. Houghton, the survivor, shewed much penitence, being convinced, from the rebukes and explanations of Colonel Gardiner, that he had really engaged in a very heinous crime. It is remarkable, that as soon as the poor fellow was satisfied of this, he became also convinced that tlie instigator had acted without authority from Edward, saying, “ If it was dishonourable and against Old England, the squire could know nought about it; he never did, or thought to do, any thing dishonourable, no more didn't Sir Everard, nor none of them afore him, and in that belief he would live and die that Ruffen had done it all of his own head.”

The strength of conviction with which he expressed himself upon

ous.

this subject, as well as his assurances that the letters intended for Waverley had been delivered to Ruthven, made that revolution in Colonel Gardiner's opinion which he expressed to Talbot.

The reader has long since understood that Donald Bean Lean played the part of tempter on this occasion. His motives were shortly these :-of an active and intriguing spirit, he had been long employed as a subaltern agent and spy by those in the confidence of the Chevalier, to an extent beyond what was suspected even by Fergus Mac-Ivor, whom, though obliged to him for protection, he regarded with fear and

dislike. To success in this political department, he naturally looked for raising himself by some bold stroke above his present hazardous and precarious trade of rapine. He was particufarly employed in learning the strength of the regiments in Scotland, the character of the officers, &c., and had long had his eye upon Waverley's troop as open to temptation. Donald even believed that Waverley himself was at bottom in the Stewart interest, which seemed confirmed by his long visit to the Jacobite Baron of Bradwardine. When, therefore, he came to his cave with one of Glennáquoich's attendants, the robber, who could never appreciate his real motive, which was mere curiosity, was so sanguine as to hope that his own talents were to be employed in some intrigue of consequence, under the auspices of this wealthy young Englishman. Nor was he undeceived by Waverley's neglecting all hints and openings afforded for explanation. His conduct passed for prudent reserve, and somewhat piqued Donald Bean, who, supposing himself left out of a secret where confidence promised to be advantageous, determined to have his share in the drama, whether a regular part were assigned him or not. For this purpose, during Waverley's sleep, he possessed himself of his seal, as a token to be used to any of the troopers whom he might discover to be possessed of the captain's confidence. His first journey to Dundee, the town where the regiment was quartered, undeceived him in his original supposition, but opened to him a new field of action. He knew there would be no service so well rewarded by the friends of the Chevalier, as seducing a part of the regular army to his standard. For this purpose he opened the machinations with which the reader is already acquainted, and which form a clew to all the intricacies and obscurities of the narrative previous to Waverley's leaving

Glennaquoich. By Colonel Talbot's advice, Waverley declined detaining in his service the lad whose evidence had thrown additional light on these intrigues. He represented to him that it would be doing the man an injury, to engage him in a desperate undertaking, and that, whatever should happen, his evidence would go some length, at least, in explaining the circumstances under which Waverley himself had embarked in it. Waverley therefore wrote a short state of what had happened to his uncle and his father, cautioning them, however, in the present circumstances, not to attempt to answer his letter. Talbot then gave the young man a letter to the commander of one of the English vessels of war cruising in the firth, requesting him to put the bearer ashore at Berwick, with a pass to proceed to

shire. He was then furnished with money to make an expeditious journey,

and directed to get on board the ship by means of bribing a fishingboat, which, as they afterwards learned, he easily effected.

Tired of the attendance of Callum Beg, who, he thought, had some disposition to act as a spy on his motions, Waverley hired as a servant a simple Edinburgh swain, who had mounted the white cockade in a fit of spleen and jealousy, because Jenny Jop had danced a whole night with Corporal Bullock of the Fusileers.

CHAPTER LII.

Intrigues of Society and Love.

COLONEL TALBOT became more kindly in his demeanour towards Waverley after the confidence he had reposed in him, and as they were necessarily much together, the character of the Colonel rose in Waverley's estimation. There seemed at first something harsh in his strong expressions of dislike and censure, although no one was in the general case more open to conviction. The habit of authority had also given his manners some peremptory hardness, notwithstanding the polish which they had received from his intimate acquaintance with the higher circles. As a specimen of the military character, he differed from all whom Waverley had as yet seen. The soldiership of the Baron of Bradwardine was marked by pedantry; that of Major Melville by a sort of martinet attention to the minutiæ and technicalities of discipline, rather suitable to one who was to manæuvre a battalion, than to him who was to command an army; the military spirit of Fergus was so much warped and blended with his plans and political views, that it was less that of a soldier than of a petty sovereign. But Colonel Talbot was in every point the English soldier. His whole soul was devoted to the service of his king and country, with out feeling any pride in knowing the theory of his art with the Baron, or its practical minutiæ with the Major, or in applying his science to his own particular plans of ambition, like the Chieftain of Glennaquoich. *Added to this, he was a man of extended knowledge and cultivated taste, although strongly tinged, as we have already observed, with those prejudices which are peculiarly English.

The character of Colonel Talbot dawned upon Edward by degrees ; for the delay of the Highlanders in the fruitless siege of Edinburgh Castle occupied several weeks, during which Waverley had little to do, excepting to seek such amusement as society afforded. He would willingly have persuaded his new friend to become acquainted with some of his former intimates. But the Colonel, after one or two visits, shook his head, and declined farther experiment. Indeed he went farther, and characterised the Baron as the most intolerable formal pedant he had ever had the misfortune to meet with, and the Chief of Glennaquoich as a Frenchified Scotsman, possessing all the cunning and plausibility of the nation where he was educated, with the proud, vindictive, and turbulent humour of that of his birth. “If the devil," he said, “had sought out an agent expressly for the

purpose of embroiling this miserable country, I do not think he could find a better than such a fellow as this, whose temper seems equally active, supple, and mischievous, and who is followed, and implicitly obeyed, by a gang of such cut-throats as those whom you are pleased to admire so much."

The ladies of the party did not escape his censure. He allowed that Flora Mac-Ivor was a fine woman, and Rose Bradwardine a pretty girl. But he alleged that the former destroyed the effect of her beauty by an affectation of the grand airs which she had probably seen practised in the mock court of St Germains. As for Rose Bradwardine, he said it was impossible for any mortal to admire such a little uninformed thing, whose small portion of education was as ill adapted to her sex or youth, as if she had appeared with one of her father's old campaign coats upon her person for her sole garment. Now much of this was mere spleen and prejudice in the excellent Colonel, with whom the white cockade on the breast, the white rose in the hair, and the Mac at the beginning of a name, would have made a devil out of an angel; and indeed he himself jocularly allowed, that he could not have endured Venus herself, if she had been announced in a drawing-room by the name of Miss Mac-Jupiter.

Waverley, it may easily be believed, looked upon these young ladies with very different eyes. During the period of the siege, he paid them almost daily visits, although he observed with regret that his suit made as little progress in the affections of the former, as the arms of the Chevalier in subduing the fortress. She maintained with rigour the rule she had laid down of treating him with indifference, without either affecting to avoid him, or to shun intercourse with him. Every word, every look, was strictly regulated to accord with her system, and neither the dejection of Waverley, nor the anger which Fergus scarcely suppressed, could extend Flora's attention to Edward beyond that which the most ordinary politeness demanded. On the other hand, Rose Bradwardine gradually rose in Waverley's opinion. He had several opportunities of remarking, that, as her extreme timidity wore off, her manners assumed a higher character; that the agitating circumstances of the stormy time seemed to call forth a certain dignity of feeling and expression, which he had not formerly observed; and that she omitted no opportunity within her reach to extend her knowledge and refine her taste.

Flora Mac-Ivor called Rose her pupil, and was attentive to assist her in her studies, and to fashion both her taste and understanding. It might have been remarked, by a very close observer, that in the presence of Waverley she was much more desirous to exhibit her friend's excellencies than her own. But I must request of the reader to suppose, that this kind and disinterested purpose was concealed by the most cautious delicacy, studiously shunning the most distant approach to affectation. So that it was as unlike the usual exhibition of one pretty woman affecting to proner another, as the friendship of David and Jonathan might be to the intimac of two Bond-street loungers. The fact is, that though the effect was felt, the cause could hardly be observed. Each of the ladies, like two excellent actresses, were perfect in their parts, and performed them to the de

« AnteriorContinuar »