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lost heart altogether, and burst into a flood of
The Baron entered at this moment, and rebuked her with more asperity than Waverley had ever heard him use to any one. «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 a half score of muskets, whether for defence or rescue.»
Baillie Macwheeble 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 was there no chance of their following the gear to any 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 projected 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, 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 and a rock of offence to the Lowland vicinage-He discomfited them, I say, when they had the temerity to descend to harry this country, in the time of the civil disseņsions, in the year of grace sixteen hundred forty and two. And now, sir, I, his grandson, am thus used at such unworthy hands !»
Here there was an awful pause; after which all the company, as is usual in cases of difficulty, began to give separate and inconsistent counsel. Alexander ab Alexandro proposed they should send some one to compound with the Catherans, who would readily, he said, give up their prey for a dollar a-bead. The
baillie opined that this transaction would amount to theft-boot, or composition of felony; and he recommended that some canny hand should be sent up to the glens to make the best bargain he could, as it were for himself, so that the laird might not be seen in such a transaction. Edward proposed to send off to the nearest garrison for a party of soldiers and a magistrate's warrant; and Rose, as far as she dared, endeavoured to insinuate the course of paying the arrears of tribute-money to Fergus Mac-Ivor Vich Ian Vohr, wbo, they all knew, could easily procure restoration of the cattle, if he were properly propitiated.
None of these proposals met the Baron's approbation. The idea of composition, direct or implied, was absolutely ignominious; that of Waverley only showed that he did not understand the state of the country, and of the political parties which divided it; and, standing matters as they did with Fergus Mac-Ivor Vich lan Vohr, the Baron would make no concession to him, wereit, he said, ato procurerestitution in integrum of every stick and stot that his clan had stolen since the days of Malcolm Canmore..
In fact, his voice was still for war, and he proposed to send expresses to Balmawhapple, Killancureit, Tilliellum, and other lairds who were exposed to similar depredations, inviting them to join in the pursuit; «and then, sir,
shall these nebulones nequissimi, as Leslæus calls them, be brought to the fate of their predecessor Cacus,
Elisos oculos, et siccum sanguine guttur.»
The baillie, who by no means relished these warlike councils, here pulled forth an immense watch, of the colour, and nearly of the size, of a pewter warming-pan, and observed it was now past 'noon, and that the Catheranis had been seen in the pass of Ballybrough soon after sun-rise; so that before the allied forces could assemble, they and their prey
would be far beyond the reach of the most active pursuit, and sheltered in those pathless deserts, where it was neither advisable to follow, nor indeed possible to trace them.
This proposition was undeniable. The council therefore broke up without coming to any
conclusion, as has occurred to councils of more importance; only it was determined that the baillie should send his own three milk cows down to the Mains for the use of the Baron's family, and brew small ale as a substitute for milk in his own.
To this arrangement, which was suggested by Saunderson, the baillie readily assented,'both from habitual deference to the family, and an internal consciousness that his courtesy would, in some mode or other, be repaid tenfold.
The Baron having also retired to give some
necessary directions, Waverley seized the opportunity to ask, whether this Fergus, with the unpronouncable name, were the chiefthieftaker of the district ?
« Thief-taker !» answered Rose, laughing; « he is a gentleman of great honour and conșequence; the chieftain of an independent branch of a powerful Higbland clan, and is much respected, both for his own power, and that of his kith, kin, and allies,»
« And what has he to do with the thieves then? Is he a magistrate, or in the commission of the peace?»
« The commission of war rather, if there be such a thing,» said Rose; « for he is a very unquiet neighbour to his un-friends, and keeps a greater following on foot than many that have thrice his estate. As to his connexion with the thieves, that I cannot well explain; but the boldest of them will never steal a hoof from any
black-mail to Vich lan Vohr.»
« And what is black-mail ? »
« A sort of protection-money that low-country gentlemen and heritors, lying near the Highlands, pay to some Highland chief, that he may neither do them barm himself, nor suffer it to be done to them by others; and then if your cattle are stole, you have only to send him word, and he will recover them; or it may be, he will drive