Waverly Chapter XVI - An Incident Gives Rise to Unavailing Reflections
by Sir Walter Scott
When Waverley reached that part of the column which was filled by
the clan of Mac-Ivor, they halted, formed, and received him with a
triumphant flourish upon the bagpipes and a loud shout of the men,
most of whom knew him personally, and were delighted to see him in
the dress of their country and of their sept. 'You shout,' said a
Highlander of a neighbouring clan to Evan Dhu, 'as if the
Chieftain were just come to your head.'
'Mar e Bran is e a brathair, If it be not Bran, it is Bran's
brother,' was the proverbial reply of Maccombich. [Footnote: Bran,
the well-known dog of Fingal. is often the theme of Highland
proverb as well as song.]
'O, then, it is the handsome Sassenach duinhe-wassel that is to be
married to Lady Flora?'
'That may be, or it may not be; and it is neither your matter nor
Fergus advanced to embrace the volunteer, and afford him a warm
and hearty welcome; but he thought it necessary to apologize for
the diminished numbers of his battalion (which did not exceed
three hundred men) by observing he had sent a good many out upon
The real fact, however, was, that the defection of Donald Bean
Lean had deprived him of at least thirty hardy fellows, whose
services he had fully reckoned upon, and that many of his
occasional adherents had been recalled by their several chiefs to
the standards to which they most properly owed their allegiance.
The rival chief of the great northern branch, also, of his own
clan had mustered his people, although he had not yet declared
either for the government or for the Chevalier, and by his
intrigues had in some degree diminished the force with which
Fergus took the field. To make amends for these disappointments,
it was universally admitted that the followers of Vich Ian Vohr,
in point of appearance, equipment, arms, and dexterity in using
them, equalled the most choice troops which followed the standard
of Charles Edward. Old Ballenkeiroch acted as his major; and, with
the other officers who had known Waverley when at Glennaquoich,
gave our hero a cordial reception, as the sharer of their future
dangers and expected honours.
The route pursued by the Highland army, after leaving the village
of Duddingston, was for some time the common post-road betwixt
Edinburgh and Haddington, until they crossed the Esk at
Musselburgh, when, instead of keeping the low grounds towards the
sea, they turned more inland, and occupied the brow of the
eminence called Carberry Hill, a place already distinguished in
Scottish history as the spot where the lovely Mary surrendered
herself to her insurgent subjects. This direction was chosen
because the Chevalier had received notice that the army of the
government, arriving by sea from Aberdeen, had landed at Dunbar,
and quartered the night before to the west of Haddington, with the
intention of falling down towards the sea-side, and approaching
Edinburgh by the lower coast-road. By keeping the height, which
overhung that road in many places, it was hoped the Highlanders
might find an opportunity of attacking them to advantage. The army
therefore halted upon the ridge of Carberry Hill, both to refresh
the soldiers and as a central situation from which their march
could be directed to any point that the motions of the enemy might
render most advisable. While they remained in this position a
messenger arrived in haste to desire Mac-Ivor to come to the
Prince, adding that their advanced post had had a skirmish with
some of the enemy's cavalry, and that the Baron of Bradwardine had
sent in a few prisoners.
Waverley walked forward out of the line to satisfy his curiosity,
and soon observed five or six of the troopers who, covered with
dust, had galloped in to announce that the enemy were in full
march westward along the coast. Passing still a little farther on,
he was struck with a groan which issued from a hovel. He
approached the spot, and heard a voice, in the provincial English
of his native county, which endeavoured, though frequently
interrupted by pain, to repeat the Lord's Prayer. The voice of
distress always found a ready answer in our hero's bosom. He
entered the hovel, which seemed to be intended for what is called,
in the pastoral counties of Scotland, a smearing-house; and in its
obscurity Edward could only at first discern a sort of red bundle;
for those who had stripped the wounded man of his arms and part of
his clothes had left him the dragoon-cloak in which he was
'For the love of God,' said the wounded man, as he heard
Waverley's step, 'give me a single drop of water!'
'You shall have it,' answered Waverley, at the same time raising
him in his arms, bearing him to the door of the hut, and giving
him some drink from his flask.
'I should know that voice,' said the man; but looking on
Waverley's dress with a bewildered look—'no, this is not the
This was the common phrase by which Edward was distinguished on
the estate of Waverley-Honour, and the sound now thrilled to his
heart with the thousand recollections which the well-known accents
of his native country had already contributed to awaken.
'Houghton!' he said, gazing on the ghastly features which death
was fast disfiguring, 'can this be you?'
'I never thought to hear an English voice again,' said the
man;'they left me to live or die here as I could, when they found
I would say nothing about the strength of the regiment. But, O
squire! how could you stay from us so long, and let us be tempted
by that fiend of the pit, Rufinn? we should have followed you
through flood and fire, to be sure.'
'Rufin! I assure you, Houghton, you have been vilely imposed
'I often thought so,' said Houghton,'though they showed us your
very seal; and so Tims was shot and I was reduced to the ranks.'
'Do not exhaust your strength in speaking,' said Edward; 'I will
get you a surgeon presently.'
He saw Mac-Ivor approaching, who was now returning from
headquarters, where he had attended a council of war, and hastened
to meet him. 'Brave news!'shouted the Chief; 'we shall be at it in
less than two hours. The Prince has put himself at the head of the
advance, and, as he drew his sword, called out, "My friends, I
have thrown away the scabbard." Come, Waverley, we move
'A moment—a moment; this poor prisoner is dying; where shall I
find a surgeon?'
'Why, where should you? We have none, you know, but two or three
French fellows, who, I believe, are little better than _garqons
'But the man will bleed to death.'
'Poor fellow!' said Fergus, in a momentary fit of compassion;
instantly added, 'But it will be a thousand men's fate before
night; so come along.'
'I cannot; I tell you he is a son of a tenant of my uncle's.'
'O, if he's a follower of yours he must be looked to; I'll send
Callum to you; but _diaoul! ceade millia mottigheart_,' continued
the impatient Chieftain, 'what made an old soldier like
Bradwardine send dying men here to cumber us?'
Callum came with his usual alertness; and, indeed, Waverley
gained than lost in the opinion of the Highlanders by his anxiety
about the wounded man. They would not have understood the general
philanthropy which rendered it almost impossible for Waverley to
have passed any person in such distress; but, as apprehending that
the sufferer was one of his _following_ they unanimously allowed
that Waverley's conduct was thatof akind and considerate
chieftain, who merited the attachment of his people. In about a
quarter of an hour poor Humphrey breathed his last, praying his
young master, when he returned to Waverley-Honour, to be kind to
old Job Houghton and his dame, and conjuring him not to fight with
these wild petticoat-men against old England.
When his last breath was drawn, Waverley, who had beheld with
sincere sorrow, and no slight tinge of remorse, the final agonies
of mortality, now witnessed for the first time, commanded Callum
to remove the body into the hut. This the young Highlander
performed, not without examining the pockets of the defunct,
which, however, he remarked had been pretty well spunged. He took
the cloak, however, and proceeding with the provident caution of a
spaniel hiding a bone, concealed it among some furze and carefully
marked the spot, observing that, if he chanced to return that way,
it would be an excellent rokelay for his auld mother Elspat.
It was by a considerable exertion that they regained their place
in the marching column, which was now moving rapidly forward to
occupy the high grounds above the village of Tranent, between
which and the sea lay the purposed march of the opposite army.
This melancholy interview with his late sergeant forced many
unavailing and painful reflections upon Waverley's mind. It was
clear from the confession of the man that Colonel Gardiner's
proceedings had been strictly warranted, and even rendered
indispensable, by the steps taken in Edward's name to induce the
soldiers of his troop to mutiny. The circumstance of the seal he
now, for the first time, recollected, and that he had lost it in
the cavern of the robber, Bean Lean. That the artful villain had
secured it, and used it as the means of carrying on an intrigue in
the regiment for his own purposes, was sufficiently evident; and
Edward had now little doubt that in the packet placed in his
portmanteau by his daughter he should find farther light upon his
proceedings. In the meanwhile the repeated expostulation of
Houghton—'Ah, squire, why did you leave us?' rung like a knell in
'Yes,' he said, 'I have indeed acted towards you with thoughtless
cruelty. I brought you from your paternal fields, and the
protection of a generous and kind landlord, and when I had
subjected you to all the rigour of military discipline, I shunned
to bear my own share of the burden, and wandered from the duties I
had undertaken, leaving alike those whom it was my business to
protect, and my own reputation, to suffer under the artifices of
villainy. O, indolence and indecision of mind, if not in
yourselves vices—to how much exquisite misery and mischief do you
frequently prepare the way!'