Waverley, by Sir Walter Scott

Chapter XXVII

Exertion

When Colonel Talbot entered the breakfast-parlour next morning, he learned from Waverley’s servant that our hero had been abroad at an early hour and was not yet returned. The morning was well advanced before he again appeared. He arrived out of breath, but with an air of joy that astonished Colonel Talbot.

‘There,’ said he, throwing a paper on the table, ‘there is my morning’s work. Alick, pack up the Colonel’s clothes. Make haste, make haste.’

The Colonel examined the paper with astonishment. It was a pass from the Chevalier to Colonel Talbot, to repair to Leith, or any other port in possession of his Royal Highness’s troops, and there to embark for England or elsewhere, at his free pleasure; he only giving his parole of honour not to bear arms against the house of Stuart for the space of a twelve-month.

‘In the name of God,’ said the Colonel, his eyes sparkling with eagerness, ‘how did you obtain this?’

‘I was at the Chevalier’s levee as soon as he usually rises. He was gone to the camp at Duddingston. I pursued him thither, asked and obtained an audience — but I will tell you not a word more, unless I see you begin to pack.’

‘Before I know whether I can avail myself of this passport, or how it was obtained?’

‘O, you can take out the things again, you know. Now I see you busy, I will go on. When I first mentioned your name, his eyes sparkled almost as bright as yours did two minutes since. “Had you,” he earnestly asked, “shown any sentiments favourable to his cause?” “Not in the least, nor was there any hope you would do so.” His countenance fell. I requested your freedom. “Impossible,” he said; “your importance as a friend and confidant of such and such personages made my request altogether extravagant.” I told him my own story and yours; and asked him to judge what my feelings must be by his own. He has a heart, and a kind one, Colonel Talbot, you may say what you please. He took a sheet of paper and wrote the pass with his own hand. “I will not trust myself with my council,” he said; “they will argue me out of what is right. I will not endure that a friend, valued as I value you, should be loaded with the painful reflections which must afflict you in case of further misfortune in Colonel Talbot’s family; nor will I keep a brave enemy a prisoner under such circumstances. Besides,” said he, “I think I can justify myself to my prudent advisers by pleading the good effect such lenity will produce on the minds of the great English families with whom Colonel Talbot is connected.”’

‘There the politician peeped out,’ said the Colonel.

‘Well, at least he concluded like a king’s son: “Take the passport; I have added a condition for form’s sake; but if the Colonel objects to it, let him depart without giving any parole whatever. I come here to war with men, but not to distress or endanger women.”’

‘Well, I never thought to have been so much indebted to the Pretend — ’

‘To the Prince,’ said Waverley, smiling.

‘To the Chevalier,’ said the Colonel; ‘it is a good travelling name, and which we may both freely use. Did he say anything more?’

‘Only asked if there was anything else he could oblige me in; and when I replied in the negative, he shook me by the hand, and wished all his followers were as considerate, since some friends of mine not only asked all he had to bestow, but many things which were entirely out of his power, or that of the greatest sovereign upon earth. Indeed, he said, no prince seemed, in the eyes of his followers, so like the Deity as himself, if you were to judge from the extravagant requests which they daily preferred to him.’

‘Poor young gentleman,’ said the Colonel, ‘I suppose he begins to feel the difficulties of his situation. Well, dear Waverley, this is more than kind, and shall not be forgotten while Philip Talbot can remember anything. My life — pshaw — let Emily thank you for that; this is a favour worth fifty lives. I cannot hesitate on giving my parole in the circumstances; there it is (he wrote it out in form). And now, how am I to get off?’

‘All that is settled: your baggage is packed, my horses wait, and a boat has been engaged, by the Prince’s permission, to put you on board the Fox frigate. I sent a messenger down to Leith on purpose.’

‘That will do excellently well. Captain Beaver is my particular friend; he will put me ashore at Berwick or Shields, from whence I can ride post to London; and you must entrust me with the packet of papers which you recovered by means of your Miss Bean Lean. I may have an opportunity of using them to your advantage. But I see your Highland friend, Glen —— what do you call his barbarous name? and his orderly with him; I must not call him his orderly cut-throat any more, I suppose. See how he walks as if the world were his own, with the bonnet on one side of his head and his plaid puffed out across his breast! I should like now to meet that youth where my hands were not tied: I would tame his pride, or he should tame mine.’

‘For shame, Colonel Talbot! you swell at sight of tartan as the bull is said to do at scarlet. You and Mac-Ivor have some points not much unlike, so far as national prejudice is concerned.’

The latter part of this discourse took place in the street. They passed the Chief, the Colonel and he sternly and punctiliously greeting each other, like two duellists before they take their ground. It was evident the dislike was mutual. ‘I never see that surly fellow that dogs his heels,’ said the Colonel, after he had mounted his horse, ‘but he reminds me of lines I have somewhere heard — upon the stage, I think:—

Close behind him

Stalks sullen Bertram, like a sorcerer’s fiend,

Pressing to be employed.

‘I assure you, Colonel,’ said Waverley,‘that you judge too harshly of the Highlanders.’

‘Not a whit, not a whit; I cannot spare them a jot; I cannot bate them an ace. Let them stay in their own barren mountains, and puff and swell, and hang their bonnets on the horns of the moon, if they have a mind; but what business have they to come where people wear breeches, and speak an intelligible language? I mean intelligible in comparison to their gibberish, for even the Lowlanders talk a kind of English little better than the Negroes in Jamaica. I could pity the Pr — — I mean the, Chevalier himself, for having so many desperadoes about him. And they learn their trade so early. There is a kind of subaltern imp, for example, a sort of sucking devil, whom your friend Glena —— Glenamuck there, has sometimes in his train. To look at him, he is about fifteen years; but he is a century old in mischief and villainy. He was playing at quoits the other day in the court; a gentleman, a decent-looking person enough, came past, and as a quoit hit his shin, he lifted his cane; but my young bravo whips out his pistol, like Beau Clincher in the “Trip to the Jubilee,” and had not a scream of Gardez l’eau from an upper window set all parties a-scampering for fear of the inevitable consequences, the poor gentleman would have lost his life by the hands of that little cockatrice.’

‘A fine character you’ll give of Scotland upon your return, Colonel Talbot.’

‘O, Justice Shallow,’ said the Colonel, ‘will save me the trouble — “Barren, barren, beggars all, beggars all. Marry, good air,” — and that only when you are fairly out of Edinburgh, and not yet come to Leith, as is our case at present.’

In a short time they arrived at the seaport.

The boat rock’d at the pier of Leith,

Full loud the wind blew down the ferry;

The ship rode at the Berwick Law.

‘Farewell, Colonel; may you find all as you would wish it! Perhaps we may meet sooner than you expect; they talk of an immediate route to England.’

‘Tell me nothing of that,’ said Talbot; ‘I wish to carry no news of your motions.’

‘Simply, then, adieu. Say, with a thousand kind greetings, all that is dutiful and affectionate to Sir Everard and Aunt Rachel. Think of me as kindly as you can, speak of me as indulgently as your conscience will permit, and once more adieu.’

‘And adieu, my dear Waverley; many, many thanks for your kindness. Unplaid yourself on the first opportunity. I shall ever think on you with gratitude, and the worst of my censure shall be, Que diable alloit — il faire dans cette galere?’

And thus they parted, Colonel Talbot going on board of the boat and Waverley returning to Edinburgh.

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