Waverley, by Sir Walter Scott

Chapter XXVIII

A Letter from Tully-Veolan

In the morning, when Waverley’s troubled reflections had for some time given way to repose, there came music to his dreams, but not the voice of Selma. He imagined himself transported back to Tully-Veolan, and that he heard Davie Gellatley singing in the court those matins which used generally to be the first sounds that disturbed his repose while a guest of the Baron of Bradwardine. The notes which suggested this vision continued, and waxed louder, until Edward awoke in earnest. The illusion, however, did not seem entirely dispelled. The apartment was in the fortress of lan nan Chaistel, but it was still the voice of Davie Gellatley that made the following lines resound under the window:—

My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here,

My heart’s in the Highlands a-chasing the deer;

A-chasing the wild deer, and following the roe,

My heart’s in the Highlands wherever I go. 64

Curious to know what could have determined Mr. Gellatley on an excursion of such unwonted extent, Edward began to dress himself in all haste, during which operation the minstrelsy of Davie changed its tune more than once:—

There’s nought in the Highlands but syboes and leeks,

And lang-leggit callants gaun wanting the breeks,

Wanting the breeks, and without hose and shoon,

But we’ll a’win the breeks when King Jamie comes hame. 65

By the time Waverley was dressed and had issued forth, David had associated himself with two or three of the numerous Highland loungers who always graced the gates of the castle with their presence, and was capering and dancing full merrily in the doubles and full career of a Scotch foursome reel, to the music of his own whistling. In this double capacity of dancer and musician he continued, until an idle piper, who observed his zeal, obeyed the unanimous call of seid suas (i.e. blow up), and relieved him from the latter part of his trouble. Young and old then mingled in the dance as they could find partners. The appearance of Waverley did not interrupt David’s exercise, though he contrived, by grinning, nodding, and throwing one or two inclinations of the body into the graces with which he performed the Highland fling, to convey to our hero symptoms of recognition. Then, while busily employed in setting, whooping all the while, and snapping his fingers over his head, he of a sudden prolonged his side-step until it brought him to the place where Edward was standing, and, still keeping time to the music like Harlequin in a pantomime, he thrust a letter into our hero’s hand, and continued his saltation without pause or intermission. Edward, who perceived that the address was in Rose’s hand-writing, retired to peruse it, leaving the faithful bearer to continue his exercise until the piper or he should be tired out.

The contents of the letter greatly surprised him. It had originally commenced with ‘Dear Sir’; but these words had been carefully erased, and the monosyllable ‘Sir’ substituted in their place. The rest of the contents shall be given in Rose’s own language.

I fear I am using an improper freedom by intruding upon you, yet I cannot trust to any one else to let you know some things which have happened here, with which it seems necessary you should be acquainted. Forgive me, if I am wrong in what I am doing; for, alas! Mr. Waverley, I have no better advice than that of my own feelings; my dear father is gone from this place, and when he can return to my assistance and protection, God alone knows. You have probably heard that, in consequence of some troublesome news from the Highlands, warrants were sent out for apprehending several gentlemen in these parts, and, among others, my dear father. In spite of all my tears and entreaties that he would surrender himself to the government, he joined with Mr. Falconer and some other gentlemen, and they have all gone northwards, with a body of about forty horsemen. So I am not so anxious concerning his immediate safety as about what may follow afterwards, for these troubles are only beginning. But all this is nothing to you, Mr. Waverley, only I thought you would be glad to learn that my father has escaped, in case you happen to have heard that he was in danger.

The day after my father went off there came a party of soldiers to Tully-Veolan, and behaved very rudely to Bailie Macwheeble; but the officer was very civil to me, only said his duty obliged him to search for arms and papers. My father had provided against this by taking away all the arms except the old useless things which hung in the hall, and he had put all his papers out of the way. But O! Mr. Waverley, how shall I tell you, that they made strict inquiry after you, and asked when you had been at Tully-Veolan, and where you now were. The officer is gone back with his party, but a non-commissioned officer and four men remain as a sort of garrison in the house. They have hitherto behaved very well, as we are forced to keep them in good-humour. But these soldiers have hinted as if, on your falling into their hands, you would be in great danger; I cannot prevail on myself to write what wicked falsehoods they said, for I am sure they are falsehoods; but you will best judge what you ought to do. The party that returned carried off your servant prisoner, with your two horses, and everything that you left at Tully-Veolan. I hope God will protect you, and that you will get safe home to England, where you used to tell me there was no military violence nor fighting among clans permitted, but everything was done according to an equal law that protected all who were harmless and innocent. I hope you will exert your indulgence as to my boldness in writing to you, where it seems to me, though perhaps erroneously, that your safety and honour are concerned. I am sure — at least I think, my father would approve of my writing; for Mr. Rubrick is fled to his cousin’s at the Duchran, to to be out of danger from the soldiers and the Whigs, and Bailie Macwheeble does not like to meddle (he says) in other men’s concerns, though I hope what may serve my father’s friend at such a time as this cannot be termed improper interference. Farewell, Captain Waverley! I shall probaby never see you more; for it would be very improper to wish you to call at Tully-Veolan just now, even if these men were gone; but I will always remember with gratitude your kindness in assisting so poor a scholar as myself, and your attentions to my dear, dear father.

I remain, your obliged servant,

ROSE COMYNE BRADWARDINE.

P.S. — I hope you will send me a line by David Gellatley, just to say you have received this and that you will take care of yourself; and forgive me if I entreat you, for your own sake, to join none of these unhappy cabals, but escape, as fast as possible, to your own fortunate country. My compliments to my dear Flora and to Glennaquoich. Is she not as handsome and accomplished as I have described her?

Thus concluded the letter of Rose Bradwardine, the contents of which both surprised and affected Waverley. That the Baron should fall under the suspicions of government, in consequence of the present stir among the partisans of the house of Stuart, seemed only the natural consequence of his political predilections; but how HE himself should have been involved in such suspicions, conscious that until yesterday he had been free from harbouring a thought against the prosperity of the reigning family, seemed inexplicable. Both at Tully-Veolan and Glennaquoich his hosts had respected his engagements with the existing government, and though enough passed by accidental innuendo that might induce him to reckon the Baron and the Chief among those disaffected gentlemen who were still numerous in Scotland, yet until his own connection with the army had been broken off by the resumption of his commission, he had no reason to suppose that they nourished any immediate or hostile attempts against the present establishment. Still he was aware that, unless he meant at once to embrace the proposal of Fergus Mac-Ivor, it would deeply concern him to leave the suspicious neighbourhood without delay, and repair where his conduct might undergo a satisfactory examination. Upon this he the rather determined, as Flora’s advice favoured his doing so, and because he felt inexpressible repugnance at the idea of being accessary to the plague of civil war. Whatever were the original rights of the Stuarts, calm reflection told him that, omitting the question how far James the Second could forfeit those of his posterity, he had, according to the united voice of the whole nation, justly forfeited his own. Since that period four monarchs had reigned in peace and glory over Britain, sustaining and exalting the character of the nation abroad and its liberties at home. Reason asked, was it worth while to disturb a government so long settled and established, and to plunge a kingdom into all the miseries of civil war, for the purpose of replacing upon the throne the descendants of a monarch by whom it had been wilfully forfeited? If, on the other hand, his own final conviction of the goodness of their cause, or the commands of his father or uncle, should recommend to him allegiance to the Stuarts, still it was necessary to clear his own character by showing that he had not, as seemed to be falsely insinuated, taken any step to this purpose during his holding the commission of the reigning monarch,

The affectionate simplicity of Rose and her anxiety for his safety, his sense too of her unprotected state, and of the terror and actual dangers to which she might be exposed, made an impression upon his mind, and he instantly wrote to thank her in the kindest terms for her solicitude on his account, to express his earnest good wishes for her welfare and that of her father, and to assure her of his own safety. The feelings which this task excited were speedily lost in the necessity which he now saw of bidding farewell to Flora Mac-Ivor, perhaps for ever. The pang attending this reflection was inexpressible; for her high-minded elevation of character, her self-devotion to the cause which she had embraced, united to her scrupulous rectitude as to the means of serving it, had vindicated to his judgment the choice adopted by his passions. But time pressed, calumny was busy with his fame, and every hour’s delay increased the power to injure it. His departure must be instant.

With this determination he sought out Fergus, and communicated to him the contents of Rose’s letter, with his own resolution instantly to go to Edinburgh, and put into the hands of some one or other of those persons of influence to whom he had letters from his father his exculpation from any charge which might be preferred against him.

‘You run your head into the lion’s mouth,’ answered Mac-Ivor. ‘You do not know the severity of a government harassed by just apprehensions, and a consciousness of their own illegality and insecurity. I shall have to deliver you from some dungeon in Stirling or Edinburgh Castle.’

‘My innocence, my rank, my father’s intimacy with Lord M — General G — etc., will be a sufficient protection,’ said Waverley.

‘You will find the contrary,’ replied the Chieftain, ‘these gentlemen will have enough to do about their own matters. Once more, will you take the plaid, and stay a little while with us among the mists and the crows, in the bravest cause ever sword was drawn in?’ 66

‘For many reasons, my dear Fergus, you must hold me excused.’

‘Well then,’ said Mac-Ivor, ‘I shall certainly find you exerting your poetical talents in elegies upon a prison, or your antiquarian researches in detecting the Oggam 67 character or some Punic hieroglyphic upon the keystones of a vault, curiously arched. Or what say you to un petit pendement bien joli? against which awkward ceremony I don’t warrant you, should you meet a body of the armed West-Country Whigs.’

‘And why should they use me so?’ said Waverley.

‘For a hundred good reasons,’ answered Fergus. ‘First, you are an Englishman; secondly, a gentleman; thirdly, a prelatist abjured; and, fourthly, they have not had an opportunity to exercise their talents on such a subject this long while. But don’t be cast down, beloved; all will be done in the fear of the Lord.’

‘Well, I must run my hazard.’

‘You are determined, then?’

‘I am.’

‘Wilful will do’t’ said Fergus. ‘But you cannot go on foot, and I shall want no horse, as I must march on foot at the head of the children of Ivor; you shall have brown Dermid.’

‘If you will sell him, I shall certainly be much obliged.’

‘If your proud English heart cannot be obliged by a gift or loan, I will not refuse money at the entrance of a campaign: his price is twenty guineas. [Remember, reader, it was Sixty Years Since.] And when do you propose to depart?’

‘The sooner the better,’ answered Waverley.

‘You are right, since go you must, or rather, since go you will. I will take Flora’s pony and ride with you as far as Bally-Brough. Callum Beg, see that our horses are ready, with a pony for yourself, to attend and carry Mr. Waverley’s baggage as far as — (naming a small town), where he can have a horse and guide to Edinburgh. Put on a Lowland dress, Callum, and see you keep your tongue close, if you would not have me cut it out. Mr. Waverley rides Dermid.’ Then turning to Edward, ‘You will take leave of my sister?’

‘Surely — that is, if Miss Mac-Ivor will honour me so far.’

‘Cathleen, let my sister know Mr. Waverley wishes to bid her farewell before he leaves us. But Rose Bradwardine, her situation must be thought of; I wish she were here. And why should she not? There are but four red-coats at Tully-Veolan, and their muskets would be very useful to us.’

To these broken remarks Edward made no answer; his ear indeed received them, but his soul was intent upon the expected entrance of Flora. The door opened. It was but Cathleen, with her lady’s excuse, and wishes for Captain Waverley’s health and happiness.

64 These lines form the burden of an old song to which Burns wrote additional verses.

65 These lines are also ancient, and I believe to the tune of ‘We’ll never hae peace till Jamie comes hame,’ to which Burns likewise wrote some verses.

66 A Highland rhyme on Glencairn’s Expedition, in 1650, has these lines —

We’ll bide a while amang ta crows,

We’ll wiske ta sword and bend ta bows

67 The Oggam is a species of the old Irish character. The idea of the correspondence betwixt the Celtic and Punic, founded on a scene in Plautus, was not started till General Vallancey set up his theory, long after the date of Fergus Mac-Ivor

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Last updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 22:29