Waverley, by Sir Walter Scott

Chapter XXII

Intrigues of Love and Politics

It is not necessary to record in these pages the triumphant entrance of the Chevalier into Edinburgh after the decisive affair at Preston. One circumstance, however, may be noticed, because it illustrates the high spirit of Flora Mac-Ivor. The Highlanders by whom the Prince was surrounded, in the license and extravagance of this joyful moment, fired their pieces repeatedly, and one of these having been accidentally loaded with ball, the bullet grazed the young lady’s temple as she waved her handkerchief from a balcony.91 Fergus, who beheld the accident, was at her side in an instant; and, on seeing that the wound was trifling, he drew his broadsword with the purpose of rushing down upon the man by whose carelessness she had incurred so much danger, when, holding him by the plaid, ‘Do not harm the poor fellow,’ she cried; ‘for Heaven’s sake, do not harm him! but thank God with me that the accident happened to Flora Mac-Ivor; for had it befallen a Whig, they would have pretended that the shot was fired on purpose.’

Waverley escaped the alarm which this accident would have occasioned to him, as he was unavoidably delayed by the necessity of accompanying Colonel Talbot to Edinburgh.

They performed the journey together on horseback, and for some time, as if to sound each other’s feelings and sentiments, they conversed upon general and ordinary topics.

When Waverley again entered upon the subject which he had most at heart, the situation, namely, of his father and his uncle, Colonel Talbot seemed now rather desirous to alleviate than to aggravate his anxiety. This appeared particularly to be the case when he heard Waverley’s history, which he did not scruple to confide to him.

‘And so,’ said the Colonel,‘there has been no malice prepense, as lawyers, I think, term it, in this rash step of yours; and you have been trepanned into the service of this Italian knight-errant by a few civil speeches from him and one or two of his Highland recruiting sergeants? It is sadly foolish, to be sure, but not nearly so bad as I was led to expect. However, you cannot desert, even from the Pretender, at the present moment; that seems impossible. But I have little doubt that, in the dissensions incident to this heterogeneous mass of wild and desperate men, some opportunity may arise, by availing yourself of which you may extricate yourself honourably from your rash engagement before the bubble burst. If this can be managed, I would have you go to a place of safety in Flanders which I shall point out. And I think I can secure your pardon from government after a few months’ residence abroad.’

‘I cannot permit you, Colonel Talbot,’ answered Waverley, ‘to speak of any plan which turns on my deserting an enterprise in which I may have engaged hastily, but certainly voluntarily, and with the purpose of abiding the issue.’

‘Well,’ said Colonel Talbot, smiling, ‘leave me my thoughts and hopes at least at liberty, if not my speech. But have you never examined your mysterious packet?’

‘It is in my baggage,’ replied Edward; ‘we shall find it in Edinburgh.’

In Edinburgh they soon arrived. Waverley’s quarters had been assigned to him, by the Prince’s express orders, in a handsome lodging, where there was accommodation for Colonel Talbot. His first business was to examine his portmanteau, and, after a very short search, out tumbled the expected packet. Waverley opened it eagerly. Under a blank cover, simply addressed to E. Waverley, Esq., he found a number of open letters. The uppermost were two from Colonel Gardiner addressed to himself. The earliest in date was a kind and gentle remonstrance for neglect of the writer’s advice respecting the disposal of his time during his leave of absence, the renewal of which, he reminded Captain Waverley, would speedily expire. ‘Indeed,’ the letter proceeded, ‘had it been otherwise, the news from abroad and my instructions from the War Office must have compelled me to recall it, as there is great danger, since the disaster in Flanders, both of foreign invasion and insurrection among the disaffected at home. I therefore entreat you will repair as soon as possible to the headquarters of the regiment; and I am concerned to add that this is still the more necessary as there is some discontent in your troop, and I postpone inquiry into particulars until I can have the advantage of your assistance.’

The second letter, dated eight days later, was in such a style as might have been expected from the Colonel’s receiving no answer to the first. It reminded Waverley of his duty as a man of honour, an officer, and a Briton; took notice of the increasing dissatisfaction of his men, and that some of them had been heard to hint that their Captain encouraged and approved of their mutinous behaviour; and, finally, the writer expressed the utmost regret and surprise that he had not obeyed his commands by repairing to headquarters, reminded him that his leave of absence had been recalled, and conjured him, in a style in which paternal remonstrance was mingled with military authority, to redeem his error by immediately joining his regiment. ‘That I may be certain,’ concluded the letter, ‘that this actually reaches you, I despatch it by Corporal Tims of your troop, with orders to deliver it into your own hand.’

Upon reading these letters Waverley, with great bitterness of feeling, was compelled to make the amende honorable to the memory of the brave and excellent writer; for surely, as Colonel Gardiner must have had every reason to conclude they had come safely to hand, less could not follow, on their being neglected, than that third and final summons, which Waverley actually received at Glennaquoich, though too late to obey it. And his being superseded, in consequence of his apparent neglect of this last command, was so far from being a harsh or severe proceeding, that it was plainly inevitable. The next letter he unfolded was from the major of the regiment, acquainting him that a report to the disadvantage of his reputation was public in the country, stating, that one Mr. Falconer of Ballihopple, or some such name, had proposed in his presence a treasonable toast, which he permitted to pass in silence, although it was so gross an affront to the royal family that a gentleman in company, not remarkable for his zeal for government, had never theless taken the matter up, and that, supposing the account true, Captain Waverley had thus suffered another, comparatively unconcerned, to resent an affront directed against him personally as an officer, and to go out with the person by whom it was offered. The major concluded that no one of Captain Waverley’s brother officers could believe this scandalous story, but that it was necessarily their joint opinion that his own honour, equally with that of the regiment, depended upon its being instantly contradicted by his authority, etc. etc. etc.

‘What do you think of all this?’ said Colonel Talbot, to whom Waverley handed the letters after he had perused them.

‘Think! it renders thought impossible. It is enough to drive me mad.’

‘Be calm, my young friend; let us see what are these dirty scrawls that follow.’

The first was addressed, —

‘For Master W. Ruffin, These.’ —

‘Dear sur, sum of our yong gulpins will not bite, thof I tuold them you shoed me the squoire’s own seel. But Tims will deliver you the lettrs as desired, and tell ould Addem he gave them to squoir’s bond, as to be sure yours is the same, and shall be ready for signal, and hoy for Hoy Church and Sachefrel, as fadur sings at harvestwhome. Yours, deer Sur,

‘H. H.

‘Poscriff. — Do’e tell squoire we longs to heer from him, and has dootings about his not writing himself, and Lifetenant Bottler is smoky.’

‘This Ruffin, I suppose, then, is your Donald of the Cavern, who has intercepted your letters, and carried on a correspondence with the poor devil Houghton, as if under your authority?’

‘It seems too true. But who can Addem be?’

‘Possibly Adam, for poor Gardiner, a sort of pun on his name.’

The other letters were to the same purpose; and they soon received yet more complete light upon Donald Bean’s machinations.

John Hodges, one of Waverley’s servants, who had remained with the regiment and had been taken at Preston, now made his appearance. He had sought out his master with the purpose of again entering his service. From this fellow they learned that some time after Waverley had gone from the headquarters of the regiment, a pedlar, called Ruthven, Rufnn, or Rivane, known among the soldiers by the name of Wily Will, had made frequent visits to the town of Dundee. He appeared to possess plenty of money, sold his commodities very cheap, seemed always willing to treat his friends at the ale-house, and easily ingratiated himself with many of Waverley’s troop, particularly Sergeant Houghton and one Tims, also a non-commissioned officer. To these he unfolded, in Waverley’s name, a plan for leaving the regiment and joining him in the Highlands, where report said the clans had already taken arms in great numbers. The men, who had been educated as Jacobites, so far as they had any opinion at all, and who knew their landlord, Sir Everard, had always been supposed to hold such tenets, easily fell into the snare. That Waverley was at a distance in the Highlands was received as a sufficient excuse for transmitting his letters through the medium of the pedlar; and the sight of his well-known seal seemed to authenticate the negotiations in his name, where writing might have been dangerous. The cabal, however, began to take air, from the premature mutinous language of those concerned. Wily Will justified his appellative; for, after suspicion arose, he was seen no more. When the ‘Gazette’ appeared in which Waverley was superseded, great part of his troop broke out into actual mutiny, but were surrounded and disarmed by the rest of the regiment In consequence of the sentence of a court-martial, Houghton and Tims were condemned to be shot, but afterwards permitted to cast lots for life. Houghton, the survivor, showed much penitence, being convinced, from the rebukes and explanations of Colonel Gardiner, that he had really engaged in a very heinous crime. It is remarkable that, as soon as the poor fellow was satisfied of this, he became also convinced that the instigator had acted without authority from Edward, saying, ‘If it was dishonourable and against Old England, the squire could know nought about it; he never did, or thought to do, anything dishonourable, no more didn’t Sir Everard, nor none of them afore him, and in that belief he would live and die that Ruffin had done it all of his own head.’

The strength of conviction with which he expressed himself upon this subject, as well as his assurances that the letters intended for Waverley had been delivered to Ruthven, made that revolution in Colonel Gardiner’s opinion which he expressed to Talbot.

The reader has long since understood that Donald Bean Lean played the part of tempter on this occasion. His motives were shortly these. Of an active and intriguing spirit, he had been long employed as a subaltern agent and spy by those in the confidence of the Chevalier, to an extent beyond what was suspected even by Fergus Mac-Ivor, whom, though obliged to him for protection, he regarded with fear and dislike. To success in this political department he naturally looked for raising himself by some bold stroke above his present hazardous and precarious trade of rapine. He was particularly employed in learning the strength of the regiments in Scotland, the character of the officers, etc., and had long had his eye upon Waverley’s troop as open to temptation. Donald even believed that Waverley himself was at bottom in the Stuart interest, which seemed confirmed by his long visit to the Jacobite Baron of Bradwardine. When, therefore, he came to his cave with one of Glennaquoich’s attendants, the robber, who could never appreciate his real motive, which was mere curiosity, was so sanguine as to hope that his own talents were to be employed in some intrigue of consequence, under the auspices of this wealthy young Englishman. Nor was he undeceived by Waverley’s neglecting all hints and openings afforded for explanation. His conduct passed for prudent reserve, and somewhat piqued Donald Bean, who, supposing himself left out of a secret where confidence promised to be advantageous, determined to have his share in the drama, whether a regular part were assigned him or not. For this purpose during Waverley’s sleep he possessed himself of his seal, as a token to be used to any of the troopers whom he might discover to be possessed of the captain’s confidence. His first journey to Dundee, the town where the regiment was quartered, undeceived him in his original supposition, but opened to him a new field of action. He knew there would be no service so well rewarded by the friends of the Chevalier as seducing a part of the regular army to his standard. For this purpose he opened the machinations with which the reader is already acquainted, and which form a clue to all the intricacies and obscurities of the narrative previous to Waverley’s leaving Glennaquoich.

By Colonel Talbot’s advice, Waverley declined detaining in his service the lad whose evidence had thrown additional light on these intrigues. He represented to him, that it would be doing the man an injury to engage him in a desperate undertaking, and that, whatever should happen, his evidence would go some length at least in explaining the circumstances under which Waverley himself had embarked in it. Waverley therefore wrote a short state of what had happened to his uncle and his father, cautioning them, however, in the present circumstances, not to attempt to answer his letter. Talbot then gave the young man a letter to the commander of one of the English vessels of war cruising in the frith, requesting him to put the bearer ashore at Berwick, with a pass to proceed to —— shire. He was then furnished with money to make an expeditious journey, and directed to get on board the ship by means of bribing a fishing-boat, which, as they afterwards learned, he easily effected.

Tired of the attendance of Callum Beg, who, he thought, had some disposition to act as a spy on his motions, Waverley hired as a servant a simple Edinburgh swain, who had mounted the white cockade in a fit of spleen and jealousy, because Jenny Jop had danced a whole night with Corporal Bullock of the Fusileers.

91 The incident here said to have happened to Flora Mac-Ivor actually befell Miss Nairne, a lady with whom the author had the pleasure of being acquainted. As the Highland army rushed into Edinburgh, Miss Nairne, like other ladies who approved of their cause, stood waving her handkerchief from a balcony, when a ball from a Highlander’s musket, which was discharged by accident, grazed her forehead. ‘Thank God,’ said she, the instant she recovered,‘that the accident happened to me, whose principles are known. Had it befallen a Whig, they would have said it was done on purpose.’

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