Waverley, by Sir Walter Scott

Chapter XXXVI

More Explanation

With the first dawn of day, old Janet was scuttling about the house to wake the Baron, who usually slept sound and heavily.

‘I must go back,’ he said to Waverley,‘to my cove; will you walk down the glen wi’ me?’ They went out together, and followed a narrow and entangled foot-path, which the occasional passage of anglers or wood-cutters had traced by the side of the stream. On their way the Baron explained to Waverley that he would be under no danger in remaining a day or two at Tully-Veolan, and even in being seen walking about, if he used the precaution of pretending that he was looking at the estate as agent or surveyor for an English gentleman who designed to be purchaser. With this view he recommended to him to visit the Bailie, who still lived at the factor’s house, called Little Veolan, about a mile from the village, though he was to remove at next term. Stanley’s passport would be an answer to the officer who commanded the military; and as to any of the country people who might recognise Waverley, the Baron assured him he was in no danger of being betrayed by them.

‘I believe,’ said the old man, ‘half the people of the barony know that their poor auld laird is somewhere hereabout; for I see they do not suffer a single bairn to come here a bird-nesting; a practice whilk, when I was in full possession of my power as baron, I was unable totally to inhibit. Nay, I often find bits of things in my way, that the poor bodies, God help them! leave there, because they think they may be useful to me. I hope they will get a wiser master, and as kind a one as I was.’

A natural sigh closed the sentence; but the quiet equanimity with which the Baron endured his misfortunes had something in it venerable and even sublime. There was no fruitless repining, no turbid melancholy; he bore his lot, and the hardships which it involved, with a good-humored, though serious composure, and used no violent language against the prevailing party.

‘I did what I thought my duty,’ said the good old man, ‘and questionless they are doing what they think theirs. It grieves me sometimes to look upon these blackened walls of the house of my ancestors; but doubtless officers cannot always keep the soldier’s hand from depredation and spuilzie, and Gustavus Adolphus himself, as ye may read in Colonel Munro his “Expedition with the Worthy Scotch Regiment called Mackay’s Regiment” did often permit it. Indeed I have myself seen as sad sights as Tully-Veolan now is when I served with the Marechal Duke of Berwick. To be sure we may say with Virgilius Maro, Fuimus Troes — and there’s the end of an auld sang. But houses and families and men have a’ stood lang eneugh when they have stood till they fall with honour; and now I hae gotten a house that is not unlike a domus ultima’ — they were now standing below a steep rock. ‘We poor Jacobites,’ continued the Baron, looking up, ‘are now like the conies in Holy Scripture (which the great traveller Pococke calleth Jerboa), a feeble people, that make our abode in the rocks. So, fare you well, my good lad, till we meet at Janet’s in the even; for I must get into my Patmos, which is no easy matter for my auld stiff limbs.’

With that he began to ascend the rock, striding, with the help of his hands, from one precarious footstep to another, till he got about half-way up, where two or three bushes concealed the mouth of a hole, resembling an oven, into which the Baron insinuated, first his head and shoulders, and then, by slow gradation, the rest of his l ong body; his legs and feet finally disappearing, coiled up like a huge snake entering his retreat, or a long pedigree introduced with care and difficulty into the narrow pigeon-hole of an old cabinet. Waverley had the curiosity to clamber up and look in upon him in his den, as the lurking-place might well be termed. Upon the whole, he looked not unlike that ingenious puzzle called ‘a reel in a bottle,’ the marvel of children (and of some grown people too, myself for one), who can neither comprehend the mysteryhowit has got in or how it is to be taken out. The cave was very narrow, too low in the roof to admit of his standing, or almost of his sitting up, though he made some awkward attempts at the latter posture. His sole amusement was the perusal of his old friend Titus Livius, varied by occasionally scratching Latin proverbs and texts of Scripture with his knife on the roof and walls of his fortalice, which were of sandstone. As the cave was dry, and filled with clean straw and withered fern, ‘it made,’ as he said, coiling himself up with an air of snugness and comfort which contrasted strangely with his situation, ‘unless when the wind was due north, a very passable gite for an old soldier.’ Neither, as he observed, was he without sentries for the purpose of reconnoitring. Davie and his mother were constantly on the watch to discover and avert danger; and it was singular what instances of address seemed dictated by the instinctive attachment of the poor simpleton when his patron’s safety was concerned.

With Janet, Edward now sought an interview. He had recognised her at first sight as the old woman who had nursed him during his sickness after his delivery from Gifted Gilfillan. The hut also, although a little repaired and somewhat better furnished, was certainly the place of his confinement; and he now recollected on the common moor of Tully-Veolan the trunk of a large decayed tree, called the try sting-tree, which he had no doubt was the same at which the Highlanders rendezvoused on that memorable night. All this he had combined in his imagination the night before; but reasons which may probably occur to the reader prevented him from catechising Janet in the presence of the Baron.

He now commenced the task in good earnest; and the first question was, Who was the young lady that visited the hut during his illness? Janet paused for a little; and then observed, that to keep the secret now would neither do good nor ill to anybody.

‘ It was just a leddy that hasna her equal in the world — Miss Rose Bradwardine!’

‘Then Miss Rose was probably also the author of my deliverance,’ inferred Waverley, delighted at the confirmation of an idea which local circumstances had already induced him to entertain.

‘I wot weel, Mr. Wauverley, and that was she e’en; but sair, sair angry and affronted wad she hae been, puir thing, if she had thought ye had been ever to ken a word about the matter; for she gar’d me speak aye Gaelic when ye was in hearing, to mak ye trow we were in the Hielands. I can speak it weil eneugh, for my mother was a Hieland woman.’

A few more questions now brought out the whole mystery respecting Waverley’s deliverance from the bondage in which he left Cairnvreckan. Never did music sound sweeter to an amateur than the drowsy tautology with which old Janet detailed every circumstance thrilled upon the ears of Waverley. But my reader is not a lover and I must spare his patience, by attempting to condense within reasonable compass the narrative which old Janet spread through a harangue of nearly two hours.

When Waverley communicated to Fergus the letter he had received from Rose Bradwardine by Davie Gellatley, giving an account of Tully-Veolan being occupied by a small party of soldiers, that circumstance had struck upon the busy and active mind of the Chieftain. Eager to distress and narrow the posts of the enemy, desirous to prevent their establishing a garrison so near him, and willing also to oblige the Baron — for he often had the idea of marriage with Rose floating through his brain — he resolved to send some of his people to drive out the red-coats and to bring Rose to Glennaquoich. But just as he had ordered Evan with a small party on this duty, the news of Cope’s having marched into the Highlands, to meet and disperse the forces of the Chevalier ere they came to a head, obliged him to join the standard with his whole forces.

He sent to order Donald Bean to attend him; but that cautious freebooter, who well understood the value of a separate command, instead of joining, sent various apologies which the pressure of the times compelled Fergus to admit as current, though not without the internal resolution of being revenged on him for his procrastination, time and place convenient. However, as he could not amend the matter, he issued orders to Donald to descend into the Low Country, drive the soldiers from Tully-Veolan, and, paying all respect to the mansion of the Baron, to take his abode somewhere near it, for protection of his daughter and family, and to harass and drive away any of the armed volunteers or small parties of military which he might find moving about the vicinity. As this charge formed a sort of roving commission, which Donald proposed to interpret in the way most advantageous to himself, as he was relieved from the immediate terrors of Fergus, and as he had, from former secret services, some interest in the councils of the Chevalier, he resolved to make hay while the sun shone. He achieved without difficulty the task of driving the soldiers from Tully-Veolan; but, although he did not venture to encroach upon the interior of the family, or to disturb Miss Rose, being unwilling to make himself a powerful enemy in the Chevalier’s army,

For well he knew the Baron’s wrath was deadly;

yet he set about to raise contributions and exactions upon the tenantry, and otherwise to turn the war to his own advantage. Meanwhile he mounted the white cockade, and waited upon Rose with a pretext of great devotion for the service in which her father was engaged, and many apologies for the freedom he must necessarily use for the support of his people. It was at this moment that Rose learned, by open-mouthed fame, with all sorts of exaggeration, that Waverley had killed the smith at Cairnvreckan, in an attempt to arrest him; had been cast into a dungeon by Major Melville of Cairnvreckan, and was to be executed by martial law within three days. In the agony which these tidings excited she proposed to Donald Bean the rescue of the prisoner. It was the very sort of service which he was desirous to undertake, judging it might constitute a merit of such a nature as would make amends for any peccadilloes which he might be guilty of in the country. He had the art, however, pleading all the while duty and discipline, to hold off, until poor Rose, in the extremity of her distress, offered to bribe him to the enterprise with some valuable jewels which had been her mother’s.

Donald Bean, who had served in France, knew, and perhaps over- estimated, the value of these trinkets. But he also perceived Rose’s apprehensions of its being discovered that she had parted with her jewels for Waverley’s liberation. Resolved this scruple should not part him and the treasure, he voluntarily offered to take an oath that he would never mention Miss Rose’s share in the transaction; and, foreseeing convenience in keeping the oath and no probable advantage in breaking it, he took the engagement — in order, as he told his lieutenant, to deal handsomely by the young lady — in the only mode and form which, by a mental paction with himself, he considered as binding: he swore secrecy upon his drawn dirk. He was the more especially moved to this act of good faith by some attentions that Miss Bradwardine showed to his daughter Alice, which, while they gained the heart of the mountain damsel, highly gratified the pride of her father. Alice, who could now speak a little English, was very communicative in return for Rose’s kindness, readily confided to her the whole papers respecting the intrigue with Gardiner’s regiment, of which she was the depositary, and as readily undertook, at her instance, to restore them to Waverley without her father’s knowledge. For ‘they may oblige the bonnie young lady and the handsome young gentleman,’ said Alice, ‘and what use has my father for a whin bits o’ scarted paper?’

The reader is aware that she took an opportunity of executing this purpose on the eve of Waverley’s leaving the glen.

How Donald executed his enterprise the reader is aware. But the expulsion of the military from Tully-Veolan had given alarm, and while he was lying in wait for Gilfillan, a strong party, such as Donald did not care to face, was sent to drive back the insurgents in their turn, to encamp there, and to protect the country. The officer, a gentleman and a disciplinarian, neither intruded himself on Miss Bradwardine, whose unprotected situation he respected, nor permitted his soldiers to commit any breach of discipline. He formed a little camp upon an eminence near the house of Tully-Veolan, and placed proper guards at the passes in the vicinity. This unwelcome news reached Donald Bean Lean as he was returning to Tully-Veolan. Determined, however, to obtain the guerdon of his labour, he resolved, since approach to Tully-Veolan was impossible, to deposit his prisoner in Janet’s cottage, a place the very existence of which could hardly have been suspected even by those who had long lived in the vicinity, unless they had been guided thither, and which was utterly unknown to Waverley himself. This effected, he claimed and received his reward. Waverley’s illness was an event which deranged all their calculations. Donald was obliged to leave the neighbourhood with his people, and to seek more free course for his adventures elsewhere. At Rose’s entreaty, he left an old man, a herbalist, who was supposed to understand a little of medicine, to attend Waverley during his illness.

In the meanwhile, new and fearful doubts started in Rose’s mind. They were suggested by old Janet, who insisted that, a reward having been offered for the apprehension of Waverley, and his own personal effects being so valuable, there was no saying to what breach of faith Donald might be tempted. In an agony of grief and terror, Rose took the daring resolution of explaining to the Prince himself the danger in which Mr. Waverley stood, judging that, both as a politician and a man of honour and humanity, Charles Edward would interest himself to prevent his falling into the hands of the opposite party. This letter she at first thought of sending anonymously, but naturally feared it would not in that case be credited. She therefore subscribed her name, though with reluctance and terror, and consigned it in charge to a young man, who at leaving his farm to join the Chevalier’s army, made it his petition to her to have some sort of credentials to the adventurer, from whom he hoped to obtain a commission.

The letter reached Charles Edward on his descent to the Lowlands, and, aware of the political importance of having it supposed that he was in correspondence with the English Jacobites, he caused the most positive orders to be transmitted to Donald Bean Lean to transmit Waverley, safe and uninjured, in person or effects, to the governor of Doune Castle. The freebooter durst not disobey, for the army of the Prince was now so near him that punishment might have followed; besides, he was a politician as well as a robber, and was unwilling to cancel the interest created through former secret services by being refractory on this occasion. He therefore made a virtue of necessity, and transmitted orders to his lieutenant to convey Edward to Doune, which was safely accomplished in the mode mentioned in a former chapter. The governor of Doune was directed to send him to Edinburgh as a prisoner, because the Prince was apprehensive that Waverley, if set at liberty, might have resumed his purpose of returning to England, without affording him an opportunity of a personal interview. In this, indeed, he acted by the advice of the Chieftain of Glennaquoich, with whom it may be remembered the Chevalier communicated upon the mode of disposing of Edward, though without telling him how he came to learn the place of his confinement.

This, indeed, Charles Edward considered as a lady’s secret; for although Rose’s letter was couched in the most cautious and general terms, and professed to be written merely from motives of humanity and zeal for the Prince’s service, yet she expressed so anxious a wish that she should not be known to have interfered, that the Chevalier was induced to suspect the deep interest which she took in Waverley’s safety. This conjecture, which was well founded, led, however, to false inferences. For the emotion which Edward displayed on approaching Flora and Rose at the ball of Holyrood was placed by the Chevalier to the account of the latter; and he concluded that the Baron’s views about the settlement of his property, or some such obstacle, thwarted their mutual inclinations. Common fame, it is true, frequently gave Waverley to Miss Mac-Ivor; but the Prince knew that common fame is very prodigal in such gifts; and, watching attentively the behaviour of the ladies towards Waverley, he had no doubt that the young Englishman had no interest with Flora, and was beloved by Rose Bradwardine. Desirous to bind Waverley to his service, and wishing also to do a kind and friendly action, the Prince next assailed the Baron on the subject of settling his estate upon his daughter. Mr. Bradwardine acquiesced; but the consequence was that Fergus was immediately induced to prefer his double suit for a wife and an earldom, which the Prince rejected in the manner we have seen. The Chevalier, constantly engaged in his own multiplied affairs, had not hitherto sought any explanation with Waverley, though often meaning to do so. But after Fergus’s declaration he saw the necessity of appearing neutral between the rivals, devoutly hoping that the matter, which now seemed fraught with the seeds of strife, might be permitted to lie over till the termination of the expedition. When, on the march to Derby, Fergus, being questioned concerning his quarrel with Waverley, alleged as the cause that Edward was desirous of retracting the suit he had made to his sister, the Chevalier plainly told him that he had himself observed Miss Mac-Ivor’s behaviour to Waverley, and that he was convinced Fergus was under the influence of a mistake in judging of Waverley’s conduct, who, he had every reason to believe, was engaged to Miss Bradwardine. The quarrel which ensued between Edward and the Chieftain is, I hope, still in the remembrance of the reader. These circumstances will serve to explain such points of our narrative as, according to the custom of story-tellers, we deemed it fit to leave unexplained, for the purpose of exciting the reader’s curiosity.

When Janet had once finished the leading facts of this narrative, Waverley was easily enabled to apply the clue which they afforded to other mazes of the labyrinth in which he had been engaged. To Rose Bradwardine, then, he owed the life which he now thought he could willingly have laid down to serve her. A little reflection convinced him, however, that to live for her sake was more convenient and agreeable, and that, being possessed of independence, she might share it with him either in foreign countries or in his own. The pleasure of being allied to a man of the Baron’s high worth, and who was so much valued by his uncle Sir Everard, was also an agreeable consideration, had anything been wanting to recommend the match. His absurdities, which had appeared grotesquely ludicrous during his prosperity, seemed, in the sunset of his fortune, to be harmonised and assimilated with the noble features of his character, so as to add peculiarity without exciting ridicule. His mind occupied with such projects of future happiness, Edward sought Little Veolan, the habitation of Mr. Duncan Macwheeble.

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