Waverly Chapter I - Shows That the Loss of a Horse's Shoe May Be a Serious Inconvenience
by Sir Walter Scott
The manner and air of Waverley, but, above all, the glittering
contents of his purse, and the indifference with which he seemed
to regard them, somewhat overawed his companion, and deterred him
from making any attempts to enter upon conversation. His own
reflections were moreover agitated by various surmises, and by
plans of self-interest with which these were intimately connected.
The travellers journeyed, therefore, in silence, until it was
interrupted by the annunciation, on the part of the guide, that
his 'naig had lost a fore-foot shoe, which, doubtless, his honour
would consider it was his part to replace.'
This was what lawyers call a fishing question, calculated to
ascertain how far Waverley was disposed to submit to petty
imposition. 'My part to replace your horse's shoe, you rascal!'
said Waverley, mistaking the purport of the intimation.
'Indubitably,' answered Mr. Cruickshanks; 'though there was no
preceese clause to that effect, it canna be expected that I am to
pay for the casualties whilk may befall the puir naig while in
your honour's service. Nathless, if your honour—'
'O, you mean I am to pay the farrier; but where shall we find
Rejoiced at discerning there would be no objection made on the
part of his temporary master, Mr. Cruickshanks assured him that
Cairnvreckan, a village which they were about to enter, was happy
in an excellent blacksmith; 'but as he was a professor, he would
drive a nail for no man on the Sabbath or kirk-fast, unless it
were in a case of absolute necessity, for which he always charged
sixpence each shoe.' The most important part of this
communication, in the opinion of the speaker, made a very slight
impression on the hearer, who only internally wondered what
college this veterinary professor belonged to, not aware that the
word was used to denote any person who pretended to uncommon
sanctity of faith and manner.
As they entered the village of Cairnvreckan, they speedily
distinguished the smith's house. Being also a public, it was two
stories high, and proudly reared its crest, covered with grey
slate, above the thatched hovels by which it was surrounded. The
adjoining smithy betokened none of the Sabbatical silence and
repose which Ebenezer had augured from the sanctity of his friend.
On the contrary, hammer clashed and anvil rang, the bellows
groaned, and the whole apparatus of Vulcan appeared to be in full
activity. Nor was the labour of a rural and pacific nature. The
master smith, benempt, as his sign intimated, John Mucklewrath,
with two assistants, toiled busily in arranging, repairing, and
furbishing old muskets, pistols, and swords, which lay scattered
around his workshop in military confusion. The open shed,
containing the forge, was crowded with persons who came and went
as if receiving and communicating important news, and a single
glance at the aspect of the people who traversed the street in
haste, or stood assembled in groups, with eyes elevated and hands
uplifted, announced that some extraordinary intelligence was
agitating the public mind of the municipality of Cairnvreckan.
'There is some news,' said mine host of the Candlestick, pushing
his lantern-jawed visage and bare-boned nag rudely forward into
the crowd—'there is some news; and, if it please my Creator, I
will forthwith obtain speirings thereof.'
Waverley, with better regulated curiosity than his attendant's,
dismounted and gave his horse to a boy who stood idling near. It
arose, perhaps, from the shyness of his character in early youth,
that he felt dislike at applying to a stranger even for casual
information, without previously glancing at his physiognomy and
appearance. While he looked about in order to select the person
with whom he would most willingly hold communication, the buzz
around saved him in some degree the trouble of interrogatories.
The names of Lochiel, Clanronald, Glengarry, and other
distinguished Highland Chiefs, among whom Vich Ian Vohr was
repeatedly mentioned, were as familiar in men's mouths as
household words; and from the alarm generally expressed, he easily
conceived that their descent into the Lowlands, at the head of
their armed tribes, had either already taken place or was
Ere Waverley could ask particulars, a strong, large-boned,
hard-featured woman, about forty, dressed as if her clothes had been
flung on with a pitchfork, her cheeks flushed with a scarlet red
where they were not smutted with soot and lamp-black, jostled
through the crowd, and, brandishing high a child of two years old,
which she danced in her arms without regard to its screams of
terror, sang forth with all her might,—
Charlie is my darling, my darling, my darling,
Charlie is my darling,
The young Chevalier!
'D' ye hear what's come ower ye now,' continued the virago, 'ye
whingeing Whig carles? D'ye hear wha's coming to cow yer cracks?
Little wot ye wha's coming,
Little wot ye wha's coming,
A' the wild Macraws are coming.'
The Vulcan of Cairnvreckan, who acknowledged his Venus in this
exulting Bacchante, regarded her with a grim and ire-foreboding
countenance, while some of the senators of the village hastened to
interpose. 'Whisht, gudewife; is this a time or is this a day to
be singing your ranting fule sangs in?—a time when the wine of
wrath is poured out without mixture in the cup of indignation, and
a day when the land should give testimony against popery, and
prelacy, and quakerism, and independency, and supremacy, and
erastianism, and antinomianism, and a' the errors of the
'And that's a' your Whiggery,' reechoed the Jacobite heroine;
'that's a' your Whiggery, and your presbytery, ye cut-lugged,
graning carles! What! d' ye think the lads wi' the kilts will care
for yer synods and yer presbyteries, and yer buttock-mail, and yer
stool o' repentance? Vengeance on the black face o't! mony an
honester woman's been set upon it than streeks doon beside ony
Whig in the country. I mysell—'
Here John Mucklewrath, who dreaded her entering upon a detail of
personal experience, interposed his matrimonial authority. 'Gae
hame, and be d—(that I should say sae), and put on the sowens
'And you, ye doil'd dotard,' replied his gentle helpmate, her
wrath, which had hitherto wandered abroad over the whole assembly,
being at once and violently impelled into its natural channel, 'YE
stand there hammering dog-heads for fules that will never snap
them at a Highlandman, instead of earning bread for your family
and shoeing this winsome young gentleman's horse that's just come
frae the north! I'se warrant him nane of your whingeing King
George folk, but a gallant Gordon, at the least o' him.'
The eyes of the assembly were now turned upon Waverley, who took
the opportunity to beg the smith to shoe his guide's horse with
all speed, as he wished to proceed on his journey; for he had
heard enough to make him sensible that there would be danger in
delaying long in this place. The smith's eyes rested on him with a
look of displeasure and suspicion, not lessened by the eagerness
with which his wife enforced Waverley's mandate. 'D'ye hear what
the weel-favoured young gentleman says, ye drunken
'And what may your name be, sir?' quoth Mucklewrath.
'It is of no consequence to you, my friend, provided I pay your
'But it may be of consequence to the state, sir,' replied an old
farmer, smelling strongly of whisky and peat-smoke; 'and I doubt
we maun delay your journey till you have seen the Laird.'
'You certainly,' said Waverley, haughtily, 'will find it both
difficult and dangerous to detain me, unless you can produce some
There was a pause and a whisper among the crowd—'Secretary
Murray'—'Lord Lewis Gordon'—'Maybe the Chevalier himsell!' Such
were the surmises that passed hurriedly among them, and there was
obviously an increased disposition to resist Waverley's departure.
He attempted to argue mildly with them, but his voluntary ally,
Mrs. Mucklewrath, broke in upon and drowned his expostulations,
taking his part with an abusive violence which was all set down to
Edward's account by those on whom it was bestowed. 'YE'LL stop ony
gentleman that's the Prince's freend?' for she too, though with
other feelings, had adopted the general opinion respecting
Waverley. 'I daur ye to touch him,' spreading abroad her long and
muscular fingers, garnished with claws which a vulture might have
envied. 'I'll set my ten commandments in the face o' the first
loon that lays a finger on him.'
'Gae hame, gudewife,' quoth the farmer aforesaid; 'it wad better
set you to be nursing the gudeman's bairns than to be deaving us
'HIS bairns?' retorted the Amazon, regarding her husband with a
grin of ineffable contempt—'HIS bairns!
O gin ye were dead, gudeman,
And a green turf on your head, gudeman!
Then I wad ware my widowhood
Upon a ranting Highlandman'
This canticle, which excited a suppressed titter among the
part of the audience, totally overcame the patience of the taunted
man of the anvil. 'Deil be in me but I'll put this het gad down
her throat!' cried he in an ecstasy of wrath, snatching a bar from
the forge; and he might have executed his threat, had he not been
withheld by a part of the mob, while the rest endeavoured to force
the termagant out of his presence.
Waverley meditated a retreat in the confusion, but his horse was
nowhere to be seen. At length he observed at some distance his
faithful attendant, Ebenezer, who, as soon as he had perceived the
turn matters were likely to take, had withdrawn both horses from
the press, and, mounted on the one and holding the other, answered
the loud and repeated calls of Waverley for his horse. 'Na, na! if
ye are nae friend to kirk and the king, and are detained as siccan
a person, ye maun answer to honest men of the country for breach
of contract; and I maun keep the naig and the walise for damage
and expense, in respect my horse and mysell will lose to-morrow's
day's wark, besides the afternoon preaching.'
Edward, out of patience, hemmed in and hustled by the rabble on
every side, and every moment expecting personal violence, resolved
to try measures of intimidation, and at length drew a
pocket-pistol, threatening, on the one hand, to shoot whomsoever dared to
stop him, and, on the other, menacing Ebenezer with a similar doom
if he stirred a foot with the horses. The sapient Partridge says
that one man with a pistol is equal to a hundred unarmed, because,
though he can shoot but one of the multitude, yet no one knows but
that he himself may be that luckless individual. The levy en masse
of Cairnvreckan would therefore probably have given way, nor would
Ebenezer, whose natural paleness had waxed three shades more
cadaverous, have ventured to dispute a mandate so enforced, had
not the Vulcan of the village, eager to discharge upon some more
worthy object the fury which his helpmate had provoked, and not
ill satisfied to find such an object in Waverley, rushed at him
with the red-hot bar of iron with such determination as made the
discharge of his pistol an act of self-defence. The unfortunate
man fell; and while Edward, thrilled with a natural horror at the
incident, neither had presence of mind to unsheathe his sword nor
to draw his remaining pistol, the populace threw themselves upon
him, disarmed him, and were about to use him with great violence,
when the appearance of a venerable clergyman, the pastor of the
parish, put a curb on their fury.
This worthy man (none of the Goukthrapples or Rentowels)
maintained his character with the common people, although he
preached the practical fruits of Christian faith as well as its
abstract tenets, and was respected by the higher orders,
notwithstanding he declined soothing their speculative errors by
converting the pulpit of the gospel into a school of heathen
morality. Perhaps it is owing to this mixture of faith and
practice in his doctrine that, although his memory has formed a
sort of era in the annals of Cairnvreckan, so that the
parishioners, to denote what befell Sixty Years Since, still say
it happened 'in good Mr. Morton's time,' I have never been able to
discover which he belonged to, the evangelical or the moderate
party in the kirk. Nor do I hold the circumstance of much moment,
since, in my own remembrance, the one was headed by an Erskine,
the other by a Robertson.
[Footnote: The Reverend John Erskine, D. D, an eminent Scottish
divine and a most excellent man, headed the Evangelical party in
the Church of Scotland at the time when the celebrated Doctor
Robertson, the historian, was the leader of the Moderate party.
These two distinguished persons were colleagues in the Old Grey
Friars' Church, Edinburgh; and, however much they differed in
church politics, preserved the most perfect harmony as private
friends and as clergymen serving the same cure]
Mr. Morton had been alarmed by the discharge of the pistol and
increasing hubbub around the smithy. His first attention, after he
had directed the bystanders to detain Waverley, but to abstain
from injuring him, was turned to the body of Mucklewrath, over
which his wife, in a revulsion of feeling, was weeping, howling,
and tearing her elf-locks in a state little short of distraction.
On raising up the smith, the first discovery was that he was
alive; and the next that he was likely to live as long as if he
had never heard the report of a pistol in his life. He had made a
narrow escape, however; the bullet had grazed his head and stunned
him for a moment or two, which trance terror and confusion of
spirit had prolonged somewhat longer. He now arose to demand
vengeance on the person of Waverley, and with difficulty
acquiesced in the proposal of Mr. Morton that he should be carried
before the Laird, as a justice of peace, and placed at his
disposal. The rest of the assistants unanimously agreed to the
measure recommended; even Mrs. Mucklewrath, who had begun to
recover from her hysterics, whimpered forth, 'She wadna say
naething against what the minister proposed; he was e'en ower gude
for his trade, and she hoped to see him wi' a dainty decent
bishop's gown on his back; a comelier sight than your Geneva
cloaks and bands, I wis.'
All controversy being thus laid aside, Waverley, escorted by the
whole inhabitants of the village who were not bed-ridden, was
conducted to the house of Cairnvreckan, which was about half a