Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

his blood, and if tears could have washed it out, it had not been there

now;

for there was not a dry eye in the house. You would have thought, Edward, that the very trees mourned for her, for their leaves dropped around her without a gust of wind; and indeed she looked like one that would never see them green again.»

From such legends our hero would steal away to indulge the fancies they excited. In the corner of the large and sombre library, with no other light than was afforded by the decaying brands on its ponderous and ample hearth, he would exercise for hours that internal sorcery by which past or imaginary events are presented in action, as it were, to the

eye of the muser. Then arose in long and fair array the splendour of the bridal feast at Waverley-Castle; the tall and emaciated form of its real lord, as he stood in bis pilgrim's weeds, an unnoticed spectator of the festivities of his supposed heir and intended bride; the electrical shock occasioned by the discovery; the springing of the vassals to arms; the astonishment of the bridegroom; the terror and confusion of the bride; the agony with which Wilibert observed, that her heart as well as consent was in these nuptials; the air of dignity, yet of deep feeling, with which he flung down the balf-drawn sword, and turned away

for ever from the house of his ancestors,

Then would he change the scene, and fancy would at his wish represent Aunt Rachael's tragedy. He saw the Lady Waverley seated in her bower, her ear strained to every sound, her heart throbbing with double agony; now listening to the decaying echo of the hoofs of the king's horse, and when that had died away, hearing in every breeze that shook the trees of the park the noise of the remote skirmish. A distant sound is heard like the rushing of a swoln stream; it comes nearer, and Edward can plainly distinguish the galloping of horses, the cries and shouts of men, with straggling pistol-shots between, rolling forwards to the hall. The lady starts up -- a terrified menial rushes in-But why pursue such a description.

As living in this ideal world became daily more delectable to our hero, interruption was disagreeable in proportion. The extensive domain that surrounded the Hall, which, far exceeding the dimensions of a park, was usually termed Waverley Chase, had originally been forest ground, and still, though broken by extensive glades, in which the young deer were sporting, retained its pristine and savage cha

It was traversed by broad avenues, in many places half grown up with brushwood, where the beauties of former days used to take their stand to see the stag coursed with greyhounds, or to gain an aim at him with the

racter.

cross-bow. In one spot, distinguished by a moss-grown gothic monument which retained the name of Queen's Standing, Elizabeth herself was said to have pierced seven bucks with her own arrows. This was a favourite haunt of Edward Waverley. At other times, with his gun and his spaniel, which served as an apology to others, and with a book in his pocket, which perhaps served as an apology to himself, he used to pursue one of these long avenues, which, after an ascending sweep of four miles, gradually narrowed into a rude and contracted path through the cliffy and wooded pass called Mirkwood Dingle, and opened suddenly upon a deep, dark, and small lake, named from the same cause, Mirkwood-Mere. There stood in former times a solitary tower upon a rock almost surrounded by the water, which had acquired the name of the Strength of Waverley, because in perilous times it had often been the refuge of the fainily. There, in the wars of York and Lancaster, the last adherents of the Red Rose who dared to maintain her cause, carried on a harassing and predatory warfare, till the stronghold was reduced by the celebrated Richard of Gloucester. Here too a party of cavaliers long maintained themselves under Nigel Waverley, elder brother of that William, whose fate Aunt Rachael commemorated. Through these scenes it was that Edward loved to « chew the

cud of sweet and bitter fancy,» and, like a child among his toys, culled and arranged, from the splendid yet useless imagery and emblems with which his imagination was stored, visions as brilliant and as fading as those of an evening sky. The effect of this indulgence upon his temper and character will appear in the next chapter.

CHAPTER V.

Choice of a Profession.

FROM the minuteness with which I have traced Waverley's pursuits, and the bias which these unavoidably communicated to his imagination, the reader may perhaps anticipate, in the following tale, an imitation of the romance of Cervantes. But he will do my prudence injustice in the supposition. My intention is not to follow the steps of that inimitable author, in describing such total perversion of intellect as misconstrues the objects actually presented to the senses, but that more common aberration from sound judgment, which apprehends occurrences indeed in their reality, but communicates to them a tincture of its own romantic tone and colouring. So far was Edward Waverley from expecting general sympathy with his own feelings, or concluding that the present state of things was calculated to exhibit the reality of those visions in which

« AnteriorContinuar »