Waverly Chapter XVIII - Waverley Proceeds on His Journey
by Sir Walter Scott
When Edward had collected his scattered recollection, he was
surprised to observe the cavern totally deserted. Having arisen
and put his dress in some order, he looked more accurately round
him; but all was still solitary. If it had not been for the
decayed brands of the fire, now sunk into grey ashes, and the
remnants of the festival, consisting of bones half burnt and half
gnawed, and an empty keg or two, there remained no traces of
Donald and his band. When Waverley sallied forth to the entrance
of the cave, he perceived that the point of rock, on which
remained the marks of last night's beacon, was accessible by a
small path, either natural or roughly hewn in the rock, along the
little inlet of water which ran a few yards up into the cavern,
where, as in a wetdock, the skiff which brought him there the
night before was still lying moored. When he reached the small
projecting platform on which the beacon had been established, he
would have believed his further progress by land impossible, only
that it was scarce probable but what the inhabitants of the cavern
had some mode of issuing from it otherwise than by the lake.
Accordingly, he soon observed three or four shelving steps, or
ledges of rock, at the very extremity of the little platform; and,
making use of them as a staircase, he clambered by their means
around the projecting shoulder of the crag on which the cavern
opened, and, descending with some difficulty on the other side, he
gained the wild and precipitous shores of a Highland loch, about
four miles in length and a mile and a half across, surrounded by
heathy and savage mountains, on the crests of which the morning
mist was still sleeping.
Looking back to the place from which he came, he could not help
admiring the address which had adopted a retreat of such seclusion
and secrecy. The rock, round the shoulder of which he had turned
by a few imperceptible notches, that barely afforded place for the
foot, seemed, in looking back upon it, a huge precipice, which
barred all further passage by the shores of the lake in that
direction. There could be no possibility, the breadth of the lake
considered, of descrying the entrance of the narrow and low-browed
cave from the other side; so that, unless the retreat had been
sought for with boats, or disclosed by treachery, it might be a
safe and secret residence to its garrison as long as they were
supplied with provisions. Having satisfied his curiosity in these
particulars, Waverley looked around for Evan Dhu and his
attendants, who, he rightly judged, would be at no great distance,
whatever might have become of Donald Bean Lean and his party,
whose mode of life was, of course, liable to sudden migrations of
abode. Accordingly, at the distance of about half a mile, he
beheld a Highlander (Evan apparently) angling in the lake, with
another attending him, whom, from the weapon which he shouldered,
he recognised for his friend with the battle-axe.
Much nearer to the mouth of the cave he heard the notes of a
lively Gaelic song, guided by which, in a sunny recess, shaded by
a glittering birch-tree, and carpeted with a bank of firm white
sand, he found the damsel of the cavern, whose lay had already
reached him, busy, to the best of her power, in arranging to
advantage a morning repast of milk, eggs, barley-bread, fresh
butter, and honey-comb. The poor girl had already made a circuit
of four miles that morning in search of the eggs, of the meal
which baked her cakes, and of the other materials of the
breakfast, being all delicacies which she had to beg or borrow
from distant cottagers. The followers of Donald Bean Lean used
little food except the flesh of the animals which they drove away
from the Lowlands; bread itself was a delicacy seldom thought of,
because hard to be obtained, and all the domestic accommodations
of milk, poultry, butter, etc., were out of the question in this
Scythian camp. Yet it must not be omitted that, although Alice had
occupied a part of the morning in providing those accommodations
for her guest which the cavern did not afford, she had secured
time also to arrange her own person in her best trim. Her finery
was very simple. A short russet-coloured jacket and a petticoat of
scanty longitude was her whole dress; but these were clean, and
neatly arranged. A piece of scarlet embroidered cloth, called the
snood, confined her hair, which fell over it in a profusion of
rich dark curls. The scarlet plaid, which formed part of her
dress, was laid aside, that it might not impede her activity in
attending the stranger. I should forget Alice's proudest ornament
were I to omit mentioning a pair of gold ear-rings and a, golden
rosary, which her father (for she was the daughter of Donald Bean
Lean) had brought from France, the plunder, probably, of some
battle or storm.
Her form, though rather large for her years, was very well
proportioned, and her demeanour had a natural and rustic grace,
with nothing of the sheepishness of an ordinary peasant. The
smiles, displaying a row of teeth of exquisite whiteness, and the
laughing eyes, with which, in dumb show, she gave Waverley that
morning greeting which she wanted English words to express, might
have been interpreted by a coxcomb, or perhaps by a young soldier
who, without being such, was conscious of a handsome person, as
meant to convey more than the courtesy of an hostess. Nor do I
take it upon me to say that the little wild mountaineer would have
welcomed any staid old gentleman advanced in life, the Baron of
Bradwardine, for example, with the cheerful pains which she
bestowed upon Edward's accommodation. She seemed eager to place
him by the meal which she had so sedulously arranged, and to which
she now added a few bunches of cranberries, gathered in an
adjacent morass. Having had the satisfaction of seeing him seated
at his breakfast, she placed herself demurely upon a stone at a
few yards' distance, and appeared to watch with great complacency
for some opportunity of serving him.
Evan and his attendant now returned slowly along the beach, the
latter bearing a large salmon-trout, the produce of the morning's
sport, together with the angling-rod, while Evan strolled forward,
with an easy, self-satisfied, and important gait, towards the spot
where Waverley was so agreeably employed at the breakfast-table.
After morning greetings had passed on both sides, and Evan,
looking at Waverley, had said something in Gaelic to Alice, which
made her laugh, yet colour up to her eyes, through a complexion
well en-browned by sun and wind, Evan intimated his commands that
the fish should be prepared for breakfast. A spark from the lock
of his pistol produced a light, and a few withered fir branches
were quickly in flame, and as speedily reduced to hot embers, on
which the trout was broiled in large slices. To crown the repast,
Evan produced from the pocket of his short jerkin a large scallop
shell, and from under the folds of his plaid a ram's horn full of
whisky. Of this he took a copious dram, observing he had already
taken his MORNING with Donald Bean Lean before his departure; he
offered the same cordial to Alice and to Edward, which they both
declined. With the bounteous air of a lord, Evan then proffered
the scallop to Dugald Mahony, his attendant, who, without waiting
to be asked a second time, drank it off with great gusto. Evan
then prepared to move towards the boat, inviting Waverley to
attend him. Meanwhile, Alice had made up in a small basket what
she thought worth removing, and flinging her plaid around her, she
advanced up to Edward, and with the utmost simplicity, taking hold
of his hand, offered her cheek to his salute, dropping at the same
time her little curtsy. Evan, who was esteemed a wag among the
mountain fair, advanced as if to secure a similar favour; but
Alice, snatching up her basket, escaped up the rocky bank as
fleetly as a roe, and, turning round and laughing, called
something out to him in Gaelic, which he answered in the same tone
and language; then, waving her hand to Edward, she resumed her
road, and was soon lost among the thickets, though they continued
for some time to hear her lively carol, as she proceeded gaily on
her solitary journey.
They now again entered the gorge of the cavern, and stepping into
the boat, the Highlander pushed off, and, taking advantage of the
morning breeze, hoisted a clumsy sort of sail, while Evan assumed
the helm, directing their course, as it appeared to Waverley,
rather higher up the lake than towards the place of his
embarkation on the preceding night. As they glided along the
silver mirror, Evan opened the conversation with a panegyric upon
Alice, who, he said, was both CANNY and FENDY; and was, to the
boot of all that, the best dancer of a strathspey in the whole
strath. Edward assented to her praises so far as he understood
them, yet could not help regretting that she was condemned to such
a perilous and dismal life.
'Oich! for that,' said Evan, 'there is nothing in Perthshire that
she need want, if she ask her father to fetch it, unless it be too
hot or too heavy.'
'But to be the daughter of a cattle-stealer—a common thief!'
'Common thief!—no such thing: Donald Bean Lean never LIFTED less
than a drove in his life.'
'Do you call him an uncommon thief, then?'
'No; he that steals a cow from a poor widow, or a stirk from a
cotter, is a thief; he that lifts a drove from a Sassenach laird
is a gentleman-drover. And, besides, to take a tree from the
forest, a salmon from the river, a deer from the hill, or a cow
from a Lowland strath, is what no Highlander need ever think shame
'But what can this end in, were he taken in such an
'To be sure he would DIE FOR THE LAW, as many a pretty man has
done before him.'
'Die for the law!'
'Ay; that is, with the law, or by the law; be strapped up on the
KIND gallows of Crieff, [Footnote: See Note 16.] where his father
died, and his goodsire died, and where I hope he'll live to die
himsell, if he's not shot, or slashed, in a creagh.'
'You HOPE such a death for your friend, Evan?'
'And that do I e'en; would you have me wish him to die on a
of wet straw in yon den of his, like a mangy tyke?'
'But what becomes of Alice, then?'
'Troth, if such an accident were to happen, as her father would
not need her help ony langer, I ken nought to hinder me to marry
'Gallantly resolved,' said Edward; 'but, in the meanwhile, Evan,
what has your father-in-law (that shall be, if he have the good
fortune to be hanged) done with the Baron's cattle?'
'Oich,' answered Evan,'they were all trudging before your lad and
Allan Kennedy before the sun blinked ower Ben Lawers this morning;
and they'll be in the pass of Bally-Brough by this time, in their
way back to the parks of Tully-Veolan, all but two, that were
unhappily slaughtered before I got last night to Uaimh an Ri.'
'And where are we going, Evan, if I may be so bold as to ask?'
'Where would you be ganging, but to the Laird's ain house of
Glennaquoich? Ye would not think to be in his country, without
ganging to see him? It would be as much as a man's life's
'And are we far from Glennaquoich?'
'But five bits of miles; and Vich Ian Vohr will meet us.'
In about half an hour they reached the upper end of the lake,
where, after landing Waverley, the two Highanders drew the boat
into a little creek among thick flags and reeds, where it lay
perfectly concealed. The oars they put in another place of
concealment, both for the use of Donald Bean Lean probably, when
his occasions should next bring him to that place.
The travellers followed for some time a delightful opening into
the hills, down which a little brook found its way to the lake.
When they had pursued their walk a short distance, Waverley
renewed his questions about their host of the cavern.
'Does he always reside in that cave?'
'Out, no! it's past the skill of man to tell where he's to be
found at a' times; there's not a dern nook, or cove, or corrie, in
the whole country that he's not acquainted with.'
'And do others beside your master shelter him?'
'My master? MY master is in Heaven,' answered Evan, haughtily;
then immediately assuming his usual civility of manner, 'but you
mean my Chief;—no, he does not shelter Donald Bean Lean, nor any
that are like him; he only allows him (with a smile) wood and
'No great boon, I should think, Evan, when both seem to be very
'Ah! but ye dinna see through it. When I say wood and water, I
mean the loch and the land; and I fancy Donald would be put till
't if the Laird were to look for him wi' threescore men in the
wood of Kailychat yonder; and if our boats, with a score or twa
mair, were to come down the loch to Uaimh an Ri, headed by mysell,
or ony other pretty man.'
'But suppose a strong party came against him from the Low
would not your Chief defend him?'
'Na, he would not ware the spark of a flint for him—if they came
with the law.'
'And what must Donald do, then?'
'He behoved to rid this country of himsell, and fall back, it may
be, over the mount upon Letter Scriven.'
'And if he were pursued to that place?'
'I'se warrant he would go to his cousin's at Rannoch.'
'Well, but if they followed him to Rannoch?'
'That,' quoth Evan, 'is beyond all belief; and, indeed, to tell
you the truth, there durst not a Lowlander in all Scotland follow
the fray a gun-shot beyond Bally-Brough, unless he had the help
of the Sidier Dhu.'
'Whom do you call so?'
'The Sidier Dhu? the black soldier; that is what they call the
independent companies that were raised to keep peace and law in
the Highlands. Vich Ian Vohr commanded one of them for five years,
and I was sergeant mysell, I shall warrant ye. They call them
Sidier Dhu because they wear the tartans, as they call your
men—King George's men—Sidier Roy, or red soldiers.'
'Well, but when you were in King George's pay, Evan, you were
surely King George's soldiers?'
'Troth, and you must ask Vich Ian Vohr about that; for we are for
his king, and care not much which o' them it is. At ony rate,
nobody can say we are King George's men now, when we have not seen
his pay this twelve-month.'
This last argument admitted of no reply, nor did Edward attempt
any; he rather chose to bring back the discourse to Donald Bean
Lean. 'Does Donald confine himself to cattle, or does he LIFT, as
you call it, anything else that comes in his way?'
'Troth, he's nae nice body, and he'll just tak onything, but most
readily cattle, horse, or live Christians; for sheep are slow of
travel, and inside plenishing is cumbrous to carry, and not easy
to put away for siller in this country.'
'But does he carry off men and women?'
'Out, ay. Did not ye hear him speak o' the Perth bailie? It cost
that body five hundred merks ere he got to the south of
Bally-Brough. And ance Donald played a pretty sport. [Footnote: See Note
17.] There was to be a blythe bridal between the Lady Cramfeezer,
in the howe o' the Mearns (she was the auld laird's widow, and no
sae young as she had been hersell), and young Gilliewhackit, who
had spent his heirship and movables, like a gentleman, at
cock-matches, bull-baitings, horse-races, and the like. Now, Donald
Bean Lean, being aware that the bridegroom was in request, and
wanting to cleik the cunzie (that is, to hook the siller), he
cannily carried off Gilliewhackit ae night when he was riding
dovering hame (wi' the malt rather abune the meal), and with the
help of his gillies he gat him into the hills with the speed of
light, and the first place he wakened in was the cove of Uaimh an
Ri. So there was old to do about ransoming the bridegroom; for
Donald would not lower a farthing of a thousand punds—'
'Punds Scottish, ye shall understand. And the lady had not the
siller if she had pawned her gown; and they applied to the
governor o' Stirling castle, and to the major o' the Black Watch;
and the governor said it was ower far to the northward, and out of
his district; and the major said his men were gane hame to the
shearing, and he would not call them out before the victual was
got in for all the Cramfeezers in Christendom, let alane the
Mearns, for that it would prejudice the country. And in the
meanwhile ye'll no hinder Gilliewhackit to take the small-pox.
There was not the doctor in Perth or Stirling would look near the
poor lad; and I cannot blame them, for Donald had been misguggled
by ane of these doctors about Paris, and he swore he would fling
the first into the loch that he catched beyond the pass. However
some cailliachs (that is, old women) that were about Donald's hand
nursed Gilliewhackit sae weel that, between the free open air in
the cove and the fresh whey, deil an he did not recover maybe as
weel as if he had been closed in a glazed chamber and a bed with
curtains, and fed with red wine and white meat. And Donald was sae
vexed about it that, when he was stout and weel, he even sent him
free home, and said he would be pleased with onything they would
like to gie him for the plague and trouble which he had about
Gilliewhackit to an unkenn'd degree. And I cannot tell you
precisely how they sorted; but they agreed sae right that Donald
was invited to dance at the wedding in his Highland trews, and
they said that there was never sae meikle siller clinked in his
purse either before or since. And to the boot of all that,
Gilliewhackit said that, be the evidence what it liked, if he had
the luck to be on Donald's inquest, he would bring him in guilty
of nothing whatever, unless it were wilful arson or murder under
With such bald and disjointed chat Evan went on illustrating the
existing state of the Highlands, more perhaps to the amusement of
Waverley than that of our readers. At length, after having marched
over bank and brae, moss and heather, Edward, though not
unacquainted with the Scottish liberality in computing distance,
began to think that Evan's five miles were nearly doubled. His
observation on the large measure which the Scottish allowed of
their land, in comparison to the computation of their money, was
readily answered by Evan with the old jest, 'The deil take them
wha have the least pint stoup.'
[Footnote: The Scotch are liberal in computing their land and
liquor; the Scottish pint corresponds to two English quarts. As
for their coin, every one knows the couplet—
How can the rogues pretend to sense?
Their pound is only twenty pence.]
And now the report of a gun was heard, and a sportsman was seen,
with his dogs and attendant, at the upper end of the glen.
'Shough,' said Dugald Mahony, 'tat's ta Chief.'
'It is not,' said Evan, imperiously. 'Do you think he would come
to meet a Sassenach duinhe-wassel in such a way as that?'
But as they approached a little nearer, he said, with an
appearance of mortification, 'And it is even he, sure enough; and
he has not his tail on after all; there is no living creature with
him but Callum Beg.'
In fact, Fergus Mac-Ivor, of whom a Frenchman might have said as
truly as of any man in the Highlands, 'Qu'il connoit bien ses
gens' had no idea of raising himself in the eyes of an English
young man of fortune by appearing with a retinue of idle
Highlanders disproportioned to the occasion. He was well aware
that such an unnecessary attendance would seem to Edward rather
ludicrous than respectable; and, while few men were more attached
to ideas of chieftainship and feudal power, he was, for that very
reason, cautious of exhibiting external marks of dignity, unless
at the time and in the manner when they were most likely to
produce an imposing effect. Therefore, although, had he been to
receive a brother chieftain, he would probably have been attended
by all that retinue which Evan described with so much unction, he
judged it more respectable to advance to meet Waverley with a
single attendant, a very handsome Highland boy, who carried his
master's shooting-pouch and his broadsword, without which he
seldom went abroad.
When Fergus and Waverley met, the latter was struck with the
peculiar grace and dignity of the Chieftain's figure. Above the
middle size and finely proportioned, the Highland dress, which he
wore in its simplest mode, set off his person to great advantage.
He wore the trews, or close trowsers, made of tartan, chequed
scarlet and white; in other particulars his dress strictly
resembled Evan's, excepting that he had no weapon save a dirk,
very richly mounted with silver. His page, as we have said,
carried his claymore; and the fowling-piece, which he held in his
hand, seemed only designed for sport. He had shot in the course of
his walk some young wild-ducks, as, though CLOSE TIME was then
unknown, the broods of grouse were yet too young for the
sportsman. His countenance was decidedly Scottish, with all the
peculiarities of the northern physiognomy, but yet had so little
of its harshness and exaggeration that it would have been
pronounced in any country extremely handsome. The martial air of
the bonnet, with a single eagle's feather as a distinction, added
much to the manly appearance of his head, which was besides
ornamented with a far more natural and graceful cluster of close
black curls than ever were exposed to sale in Bond Street.
An air of openness and affability increased the favorable
impression derived from this handsome and dignified exterior. Yet
a skilful physiognomist would have been less satisfied with the
countenance on the second than on the first view. The eyebrow and
upper lip bespoke something of the habit of peremptory command and
decisive superiority. Even his courtesy, though open, frank, and
unconstrained, seemed to indicate a sense of personal importance;
and, upon any check or accidental excitation, a sudden, though
transient lour of the eye showed a hasty, haughty, and vindictive
temper, not less to be dreaded because it seemed much under its
owner's command. In short, the countenance of the Chieftain
resembled a smiling summer's day, in which, notwithstanding, we
are made sensible by certain, though slight signs that it may
thunder and lighten before the close of evening.
It was not, however, upon their first meeting that Edward had an
opportunity of making these less favourable remarks. The Chief
received him as a friend of the Baron of Bradwardine, with the
utmost expression of kindness and obligation for the visit;
upbraided him gently with choosing so rude an abode as he had done
the night before; and entered into a lively conversation with him
about Donald Bean's housekeeping, but without the least hint as to
his predatory habits, or the immediate occasion of Waverley's
visit, a topic which, as the Chief did not introduce it, our hero
also avoided. While they walked merrily on towards the house of
Glennaquoich, Evan, who now fell respectfully into the rear,
followed with Callum Beg and Dugald Mahony.
We shall take the opportunity to introduce the reader to some
particulars of Fergus Mac-Ivor's character and history, which were
not completely known to Waverley till after a connection which,
though arising from a circumstance so casual, had for a length of
time the deepest influence upon his character, actions, and
prospects. But this, being an important subject, must form the
commencement of a new chapter.