Waverley, by Sir Walter Scott

Chapter X

The Journey is Continued

Before Waverley awakened from his repose, the day was far advanced, and he began to feel that he had passed many hours without food. This was soon supplied in form of a copious breakfast, but Colonel Stewart, as if wishing to avoid the queries of his guest, did not again present himself. His compliments were, however, delivered by a servant, with an offer to provide anything in his power that could be useful to Captain Waverley on his journey, which he intimated would be continued that evening. To Waverley’s further inquiries, the servant opposed the impenetrable barrier of real or affected ignorance and stupidity. He removed the table and provisions, and Waverley was again consigned to his own meditations.

As he contemplated the strangeness of his fortune, which seemed to delight in placing him at the disposal of others, without the power of directing his own motions, Edward’s eye suddenly rested upon his portmanteau, which had been deposited in his apartment during his sleep. The mysterious appearance of Alice in the cottage of the glen immediately rushed upon his mind, and he was about to secure and examine the packet which she had deposited among his clothes, when the servant of Colonel Stewart again made his appearance, and took up the portmanteau upon his shoulders.

‘May I not take out a change of linen, my friend?’

‘Your honour sall get ane o’ the Colonel’s ain ruffled sarks, but this maun gang in the baggage-cart.’

And so saying, he very coolly carried off the portmanteau, without waiting further remonstrance, leaving our hero in a state where disappointment and indignation struggled for the mastery. In a few minutes he heard a cart rumble out of the rugged court-yard, and made no doubt that he was now dispossessed, for a space at least, if not for ever, of the only documents which seemed to promise some light upon the dubious events which had of late influenced his destiny. With such melancholy thoughts he had to beguile about four or five hours of solitude.

When this space was elapsed, the trampling of horse was heard in the court-yard, and Colonel Stewart soon after made his appearance to request his guest to take some further refreshment before his departure. The offer was accepted, for a late breakfast had by no means left our hero incapable of doing honour to dinner, which was now presented. The conversation of his host was that of a plain country gentleman, mixed with some soldier-like sentiments and expressions. He cautiously avoided any reference to the military operations or civil politics of the time; and to Waverley’s direct inquiries concerning some of these points replied, that he was not at liberty to speak upon such topics.

When dinner was finished the governor arose, and, wishing Edward a good journey, said that, having been informed by Waverley’s servant that his baggage had been sent forward, he had taken the freedom to supply him with such changes of linen as he might find necessary till he was again possessed of his own. With this compliment he disappeared. A servant acquainted Waverley an instant afterwards that his horse was ready.

Upon this hint he descended into the court-yard, and found a trooper holding a saddled horse, on which he mounted and sallied from the portal of Doune Castle, attended by about a score of armed men on horseback. These had less the appearance of regular soldiers than of individuals who had suddenly assumed arms from some pressing motive of unexpected emergency. Their uniform, which was blue and red, an affected imitation of that of French chasseurs, was in many respects incomplete, and sate awkwardly upon those who wore it. Waverley’s eye, accustomed to look at a well-disciplined regiment, could easily discover that the motions and habits of his escort were not those of trained soldiers, and that, although expert enough in the management of their horses, their skill was that of huntsmen or grooms rather than of troopers. The horses were not trained to the regular pace so necessary to execute simultaneous and combined movements and formations; nor did they seem bitted (as it is technically expressed) for the use of the sword. The men, however, were stout, hardy-looking fellows, and might be individually formidable as irregular cavalry. The commander of this small party was mounted upon an excellent hunter, and, although dressed in uniform, his change of apparel did not prevent Waverley from recognising his old acquaintance, Mr. Falconer of Balmawhapple.

Now, although the terms upon which Edward had parted with this gentleman were none of the most friendly, he would have sacrificed every recollection of their foolish quarrel for the pleasure of enjoying once more the social intercourse of question and answer, from which he had been so long secluded. But apparently the remembrance of his defeat by the Baron of Bradwardine, of which Edward had been the unwilling cause, still rankled in the mind of the low-bred and yet proud laird. He carefully avoided giving the least sign of recognition, riding doggedly at the head of his men, who, though scarce equal in numbers to a sergeant’s party, were denominated Captain Falconer’s troop, being preceded by a trumpet, which sounded from time to time, and a standard, borne by Cornet Falconer, the laird’s younger brother. The lieutenant, an elderly man, had much the air of a low sportsman and boon companion; an expression of dry humour predominated in his countenance over features of a vulgar cast, which indicated habitual intemperance. His cocked hat was set knowingly upon one side of his head, and while he whistled the ‘Bob of Dumblain,’ under the influence of half a mutchkin of brandy, he seemed to trot merrily forward, with a happy indifference to the state of the country, the conduct of the party, the end of the journey, and all other sublunary matters whatever.

From this wight, who now and then dropped alongside of his horse, Waverley hoped to acquire some information, or at least to beguile the way with talk.

‘A fine evening, sir,’ was Edward’s salutation.

‘Ow, ay, sir! a bra’ night,’ replied the lieutenant, in broad Scotch of the most vulgar description.

‘And a fine harvest, apparently,’ continued Waverley, following up his first attack.

‘Ay, the aits will be got bravely in; but the farmers, deil burst them, and the corn-mongers will make the auld price gude against them as has horses till keep.’

‘You perhaps act as quartermaster, sir?’

‘Ay, quartermaster, riding-master, and lieutenant,’ answered this officer of all work. ‘And, to be sure, wha’s fitter to look after the breaking and the keeping of the poor beasts than mysell, that bought and sold every ane o’ them?’

‘And pray, sir, if it be not too great a freedom, may I beg to know where we are going just now?’

‘A fule’s errand, I fear,’ answered this communicative personage.

‘In that case,’ said Waverley, determined not to spare civility, ‘I should have thought a person of your appearance would not have been found on the road.’

‘Vera true, vera true, sir,’ replied the officer, ‘but every why has its wherefore. Ye maun ken, the laird there bought a’ thir beasts frae me to munt his troop, and agreed to pay for them according to the necessities and prices of the time. But then he hadna the ready penny, and I hae been advised his bond will not be worth a boddle against the estate, and then I had a’ my dealers to settle wi’ at Martinmas; and so, as he very kindly offered me this commission, and as the auld Fifteen73 wad never help me to my siller for sending out naigs against the government, why, conscience! sir, I thought my best chance for payment was e’en to GAE OUT74 mysell; and ye may judge, sir, as I hae dealt a’ my life in halters, I think na mickle o’ putting my craig in peril of a Saint John-stone’s tippet.’

‘You are not, then, by profession a soldier?’ said Waverley.

‘Na, na; thank God,’ answered this doughty partizan, ‘I wasna bred at sae short a tether, I was brought up to hack and manger. I was bred a horse-couper, sir; and if I might live to see you at Whitson-tryst, or at Stagshawbank, or the winter fair at Hawick, and ye wanted a spanker that would lead the field, I’se be caution I would serve ye easy; for Jamie Jinker was ne’er the lad to impose upon a gentleman. Ye’re a gentleman, sir, and should ken a horse’s points; ye see that through — ganging thing that Balmawhapple’s on; I selled her till him. She was bred out of Lick-the-ladle, that wan the king’s plate at Caverton-Edge, by Duke Hamilton’s White-Foot,’ etc., etc., etc.

But as Jinker was entered full sail upon the pedigree of Balmawhapple’s mare, having already got as far as great-grandsire and great-grand-dam, and while Waverley was watching for an opportunity to obtain from him intelligence of more interest, the noble captain checked his horse until they came up, and then, without directly appearing to notice Edward, said sternly to the genealogist, ‘I thought, lieutenant, my orders were preceese, that no one should speak to the prisoner?’

The metamorphosed horse-dealer was silenced of course, and slunk to the rear, where he consoled himself by entering into a vehement dispute upon the price of hay with a farmer who had reluctantly followed his laird to the field rather than give up his farm, whereof the lease had just expired. Waverley was therefore once more consigned to silence, foreseeing that further attempts at conversation with any of the party would only give Balmawhapple a wished-for opportunity to display the insolence of authority, and the sulky spite of a temper naturally dogged, and rendered more so by habits of low indulgence and the incense of servile adulation.

In about two hours’ time the party were near the Castle of Stirling, over whose battlements the union flag was brightened as it waved in the evening sun. To shorten his journey, or perhaps to display his importance and insult the English garrison, Balmawhapple, inclining to the right, took his route through the royal park, which reaches to and surrounds the rock upon which the fortress is situated.

pb078.jpg (84K)
Stirling Castle — Etched by John Andrew and Son

With a mind more at ease Waverley could not have failed to admire the mixture of romance and beauty which renders interesting the scene through which he was now passing — the field which had been the scene of the tournaments of old — the rock from which the ladies beheld the contest, while each made vows for the success of some favourite knight — the towers of the Gothic church, where these vows might be paid — and, surmounting all, the fortress itself, at once a castle and palace, where valour received the prize from royalty, and knights and dames closed the evening amid the revelry of the dance, the song, and the feast. All these were objects fitted to arouse and interest a romantic imagination.

But Waverley had other objects of meditation, and an incident soon occurred of a nature to disturb meditation of any kind. Balmawhapple, in the pride of his heart, as he wheeled his little body of cavalry round the base of the Castle, commanded his trumpet to sound a flourish and his standard to be displayed. This insult produced apparently some sensation; for when the cavalcade was at such distance from the southern battery as to admit of a gun being depressed so as to bear upon them, a flash of fire issued from one of the embrazures upon the rock; and ere the report with which it was attended could be heard, the rushing sound of a cannon-ball passed over Balmawhapple’s head, and the bullet, burying itself in the ground at a few yards’ distance, covered him with the earth which it drove up. There was no need to bid the party trudge. In fact, every man, acting upon the impulse of the moment, soon brought Mr. Jinker’s steeds to show their mettle, and the cavaliers, retreating with more speed than regularity, never took to a trot, as the lieutenant afterwards observed, until an intervening eminence had secured them from any repetition of so undesirable a compliment on the part of Stirling Castle. I must do Balmawhapple, however, the justice to say that he not only kept the rear of his troop, and laboured to maintain some order among them, but, in the height of his gallantry, answered the fire of the Castle by discharging one of his horse-pistols at the battlements; although, the distance being nearly half a mile, I could never learn that this measure of retaliation was attended with any particular effect.

The travellers now passed the memorable field of Bannockburn and reached the Torwood, a place glorious or terrible to the recollections of the Scottish peasant, as the feats of Wallace or the cruelties of Wude Willie Grime predominate in his recollection. At Falkirk, a town formerly famous in Scottish history, and soon to be again distinguished as the scene of military events of importance, Balmawhapple proposed to halt and repose for the evening. This was performed with very little regard to military discipline, his worthy quarter-master being chiefly solicitous to discover where the best brandy might be come at. Sentinels were deemed unnecessary, and the only vigils performed were those of such of the party as could procure liquor. A few resolute men might easily have cut off the detachment; but of the inhabitants some were favourable, many indifferent, and the rest overawed. So nothing memorable occurred in the course of the evening, except that Waverley’s rest was sorely interrupted by the revellers hallooing forth their Jacobite songs, without remorse or mitigation of voice.

Early in the morning they were again mounted and on the road to Edinburgh, though the pallid visages of some of the troop betrayed that they had spent a night of sleepless debauchery. They halted at Linlithgow, distinguished by its ancient palace, which Sixty Years Since was entire and habitable, and whose venerable ruins, NOT QUITE SIXTY YEARS SINCE, very narrowly escaped the unworthy fate of being converted into a barrack for French prisoners. May repose and blessings attend the ashes of the patriotic statesman who, amongst his last services to Scotland, interposed to prevent this profanation!

As they approached the metropolis of Scotland, through a champaign and cultivated country, the sounds of war began to be heard. The distant yet distinct report of heavy cannon, fired at intervals, apprized Waverley that the work of destruction was going forward. Even Balmawhapple seemed moved to take some precautions, by sending an advanced party in front of his troop, keeping the main body in tolerable order, and moving steadily forward.

Marching in this manner they speedily reached an eminence, from which they could view Edinburgh stretching along the ridgy hill which slopes eastward from the Castle. The latter, being in a state of siege, or rather of blockade, by the northern insurgents, who had already occupied the town for two or three days, fired at intervals upon such parties of Highlanders as exposed themselves, either on the main street or elsewhere in the vicinity of the fortress. The morning being calm and fair, the effect of this dropping fire was to invest the Castle in wreaths of smoke, the edges of which dissipated slowly in the air, while the central veil was darkened ever and anon by fresh clouds poured forth from the battlements; the whole giving, by the partial concealment, an appearance of grandeur and gloom, rendered more terrific when Waverley reflected on the cause by which it was produced, and that each explosion might ring some brave man’s knell.

Ere they approached the city the partial cannonade had wholly ceased. Balmawhapple, however, having in his recollection the unfriendly greeting which his troop had received from the battery at Stirling, had apparently no wish to tempt the forbearance of the artillery of the Castle. He therefore left the direct road, and, sweeping considerably to the southward so as to keep out of the range of the cannon, approached the ancient palace of Holyrood without having entered the walls of the city. He then drew up his men in front of that venerable pile, and delivered Waverley to the custody of a guard of Highlanders, whose officer conducted him into the interior of the building.

A long, low, and ill-proportioned gallery, hung with pictures, affirmed to be the portraits of kings, who, if they ever flourished at all, lived several hundred years before the invention of painting in oil colours, served as a sort of guard chamber or vestibule to the apartments which the adventurous Charles Edward now occupied in the palace of his ancestors. Officers, both in the Highland and Lowland garb, passed and repassed in haste, or loitered in the hall as if waiting for orders. Secretaries were engaged in making out passes, musters, and returns. All seemed busy, and earnestly intent upon something of importance; but Waverley was suffered to remain seated in the recess of a window, unnoticed by any one, in anxious reflection upon the crisis of his fate, which seemed now rapidly approaching.

73 The Judges of the Supreme Court of Session in Scotland are proverbially termed among the country people, The Fifteen.

74 To go out, or to have been out, in Scotland was a conventional phrase similar to that of the Irish respecting a man having been up, both having reference to an individual who had been engaged in insurrection. It was accounted ill-breeding in Scotland about forty years since to use the phrase rebellion or rebel, which might be interpreted by some of the parties present as a personal insult. It was also esteemed more polite, even for stanch Whigs, to denominate Charles Edward the Chevalier than to speak of him as the Pretender; and this kind of accommodating courtesy was usually observed in society where individuals of each party mixed on friendly terms.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/s/scott/walter/waverley/chapter39.html

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