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CHAPTER IV.

Castle-Building

I have already hinted that the dainty, squeamish, and fastidious taste acquired by a surfeit of idle reading, had not only rendered our hero unfit for serious and sober study, but had even disgusted him in some degree with that in which he had hitherto indulged. He was in his sixteenth year, when his habits of abstraction and love of solitude became so much marked as to excite Sir Everard's affectionate apprehension. He tried to counterbalance these propensities, by engaging his nephew in fieldsports, which had been the chief pleasure of his own youth. But although Edward eagerly carried the gun for one season, yet

when

practice had given him some dexterity, the pastime ceased to afford him amusement. In the succeeding spring, the perusal of old Isaac Walton's fascinating volume determined Edward to become « a brother of the angle.» But of all diversions which ingenuity ever devised

for the relief of idleness, fishing is the worst qualified to amuse a man who is at once indoent and impatient, and our hero's rod was speedily flung aside. Society and example, which, more than any other motives, master and sway the natural bent of our passions, might have had their usual effect upon our youthful visionary. But the neighbourhood was thinly inhabited, and the home-bred young squires whom it afforded, were not of a class fit to form Edward's usual companions, far less to excite him to emulate them in the practice of those pastimes which composed the serious business of their lives. Sir Everard had, upon the death of Queen Anne, resigned his seat in Parliament, and, as his age increased and the number of his contemporaries diminished, gradually withdrawn himself from society; so that, when upon any particular occasion Edward mingled with accomplished and well educated young men of his own rank and expectations, he felt an inferiority in their society, not so much from deficiency of information, as from the want of the skill to command and to arrange that which he possessed. A deep and increasing sensibility added to his dislike of society. The idea of having committed the slightest solecism in politeness, whether real or imaginary, was agony to him; for perhaps even guilt itself does not impose upon some minds so keen a sense of shame and remorse

as a modest, sensitive, and inexperienced youth feels from the consciousness of having neglected etiquette, or excited ridicule. Where we are not at ease, we cannot be happy; and therefore it is not surprising, that Edward Waverley supposed that he disliked and was unfitted for society, merely because he had not yet acquired the babit of living in it with ease and comfort, and of reciprocally giving and receiving pleasure. The hours he spent with his uncle and aunt were exhausted in listening to the oft-repeated tale of narrative old age. Yet even there his imagination, the predominant faculty of his mind, was frequently excited. Family tradition and genealogical history, upon which much of Sir Everard's discourse turned, is the very reverse of amber, which, itself a valuable substance, usually includes flies straws, and other trifles; whereas these studies, being themselves very insignificant and trifling, do nevertheless serve to perpetuate a great deal of what is rare and valuable in ancient manners, and to record many curious and minute facts, which could have been preserved and conveyed through no other medium. If, therefore, Edward Waverley yawned at times over the dry deduction of his line of ancestors, with their various intermarriages, and inwardly deprecated the remorseless and protracted accuracy with which the worthy Sir Everard rehearsed the various degrees

of propinquity between the house of Waverley-Honour and the doughty barons, knights, and squires, to whom they stood allied; if, (notwithstanding his obligations to the three ermines passant) he sometimes cursed in his heart the jargon of heraldry, its griffins, its moldwarps, its wyverns, and its dragons, with all the bitterness of Hotspur himself, there were moments when these communications interested his fancy and rewarded his attention. The deeds of Wilibert of Waverley in the Holy Land, his long absenceand perilous adventures, his supposed death, and his return on the evening when the betrothed of his heart had wedded the hero who had protected her from insult and oppression during his absence; the generosity with which the crusader relinquished his claims, and sought in a neighbouring cloister that peace which passeth not away; to these and similar tales he would hearken till his heart glowed and his eye glistened. Nor was he less affected, when his aunt, Mrs Rachael, narrated the sufferings and fortitude of Alice Waverley during the great civil war. The benevolent features of the venerable spinster kindled into more majestic expression, as she told how Charles had, after the field of Worcester, found a day's refuge at Waverley-Honour, and how, when a troop of cavalry were approaching to search the mansion, Lady Alice dismissed her youngest son

with a handful of domestics, charging them to make good with their lives an hour's diversion, that the king might have that space for escape. « And, God help her,» would Mrs Rachael continue, fixing her eyes upon the heroine's portrait as she spoke, «full dearly did she purchase the safety of her prince with the life of her darling child. They brought him here a prisoner, mortally wounded, and you may trace the drops of his blood from the great hall door, along the little gallery, and up to the, saloon, where they laid him down to die at his mother's feet. But there was comfort exchanged betweeen them; for he knew from the glance of his mother's eye that the purpose of his desperate defence was attained-Ah! I remember,» she continued, «I remember well to have seen one that knew and loved him, Miss Lucy St Aubin lived and died a maid for his sake, though one of the most beautiful and wealthy matches in this country; all the country ran after her, but she wore widow's mourning all her life for poor William, for they were betrothed, though not married, and died in-. I cannot think of the date; but I remember, in the November of that very year, when she found herself sinking, she desired to be brought to Waverley-Honour once more, and visited all the places where she had been with my grand-uncle, and caused the carpets to be raised, that she might trace the impression of

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