Waverley had, indeed, as he looked closer into the state of the
Chevalier's court, less reason to be satisfied with it. It
contained, as they say an acorn includes all the ramifications of
the future oak, as many seeds of tracasserie and intrigue as might
have done honour to the court of a large empire. Every person of
consequence had some separate object, which he pursued with a fury
that Waverley considered as altogether disproportioned to its
importance. Almost all had their reasons for discontent, although
the most legitimate was that of the worthy old Baron, who was only
distressed on account of the common cause.
'We shall hardly,' said he one morning to Waverley when they had
been viewing the Castle—'we shall hardly gain the obsidional
crown, which you wot well was made of the roots or grain which
takes root within the place besieged, or it may be of the herb
woodbind, parietaria, or pellitory; we shall not, I say, gain it
by this same blockade or leaguer of Edinburgh Castle.' For this
opinion he gave most learned and satisfactory reasons, that the
reader may not care to hear repeated.
Having escaped from the old gentleman, Waverley went to Fergus's
lodgings by appointment, to await his return from Holyrood House.
'I am to have a particular audience to-morrow,' said Fergus to
Waverley overnight, 'and you must meet me to wish me joy of the
success which I securely anticipate.'
The morrow came, and in the Chief's apartment he found Ensign
Maccombich waiting to make report of his turn of duty in a sort of
ditch which they had dug across the Castle-hill and called a
trench. In a short time the Chief's voice was heard on the stair
in a tone of impatient fury: 'Callum! why, Callum Beg! Diaoul!' He
entered the room with all the marks of a man agitated by a
towering passion; and there were few upon whose features rage
produced a more violent effect. The veins of his forehead swelled
when he was in such agitation; his nostril became dilated; his
cheek and eye inflamed; and his look that of a demoniac. These
appearances of half-suppressed rage were the more frightful
because they were obviously caused by a strong effort to temper
with discretion an almost ungovernable paroxysm of passion, and
resulted from an internal conflict of the most dreadful kind,
which agitated his whole frame of mortality.
As he entered the apartment he unbuckled his broadsword, and
throwing it down with such violence that the weapon rolled to the
other end of the room, 'I know not what,' he exclaimed, 'withholds
me from taking a solemn oath that I will never more draw it in his
cause. Load my pistols, Callum, and bring them hither
instantly—instantly!' Callum, whom nothing ever startled, dismayed, or
disconcerted, obeyed very coolly. Evan Dhu, upon whose brow the
suspicion that his Chief had been insulted called up a
corresponding storm, swelled in sullen silence, awaiting to learn
where or upon whom vengeance was to descend.
'So, Waverley, you are there,' said the Chief, after a moment's
recollection. 'Yes, I remember I asked you to share my triumph,
and you have come to witness my disappointment we shall call it.'
Evan now presented the written report he had in his hand, which
Fergus threw from him with great passion. 'I wish to God,' he
said, 'the old den would tumble down upon the heads of the fools
who attack and the knaves who defend it! I see, Waverley, you
think I am mad. Leave us, Evan, but be within call.'
'The Colonel's in an unco kippage,' said Mrs. Flockhart to Evan
he descended; 'I wish he may be weel,—the very veins on his brent
brow are swelled like whipcord; wad he no tak something?'
'He usually lets blood for these fits,' answered the Highland
ancient with great composure.
When this officer left the room, the Chieftain gradually
some degree of composure. 'I know, Waverley,' he said, 'that
Colonel Talbot has persuaded you to curse ten times a day your
engagement with us; nay, never deny it, for I am at this moment
tempted to curse my own. Would you believe it, I made this very
morning two suits to the Prince, and he has rejected them both;
what do you think of it?'
'What can I think,' answered Waverley,'till I know what your
requests were?' 'Why, what signifies what they were, man? I tell
you it was I that made them—I to whom he owes more than to any
three who have joined the standard; for I negotiated the whole
business, and brought in all the Perthshire men when not one would
have stirred. I am not likely, I think, to ask anything very
unreasonable, and if I did, they might have stretched a point.
Well, but you shall know all, now that I can draw my breath again
with some freedom. You remember my earl's patent; it is dated some
years back, for services then rendered; and certainly my merit has
not been diminished, to say the least, by my subsequent behaviour.
Now, sir, I value this bauble of a coronet as little as you can,
or any philosopher on earth; for I hold that the chief of such a
clan as the Sliochd nan Ivor is superior in rank to any earl in
Scotland. But I had a particular reason for assuming this cursed
title at this time. You must know that I learned accidentally that
the Prince has been pressing that old foolish Baron of Bradwardine
to disinherit his male heir, or nineteenth or twentieth cousin,
who has taken a command in the Elector of Hanover's militia, and
to settle his estate upon your pretty little friend Rose; and
this, as being the command of his king and overlord, who may alter
the destination of a fief at pleasure, the old gentleman seems
well reconciled to.'
'And what becomes of the homage?'
'Curse the homage! I believe Rose is to pull off the queen's
slipper on her coronation-day, or some such trash. Well, sir, as
Rose Bradwardine would always have made a suitable match for me
but for this idiotical predilection of her father for the
heir-male, it occurred to me there now remained no obstacle unless that
the Baron might expect his daughter's husband to take the name of
Bradwardine (which you know would be impossible in my case), and
that this might be evaded by my assuming the title to which I had
so good a right, and which, of course, would supersede that
difficulty. If she was to be also Viscountess Bradwardine in her
own right after her father's demise, so much the better; I could
have no objection.'
'But, Fergus,' said Waverley, 'I had no idea that you had any
affection for Miss Bradwardine, and you are always sneering at her
'I have as much affection for Miss Bradwardine, my good friend,
I think it necessary to have for the future mistress of my family
and the mother of my children. She is a very pretty, intelligent
girl, and is certainly of one of the very first Lowland families;
and, with a little of Flora's instructions and forming, will make
a very good figure. As to her father, he is an original, it is
true, and an absurd one enough; but he has given such severe
lessons to Sir Hew Halbert, that dear defunct the Laird of
Balmawhapple, and others, that nobody dare laugh at him, so his
absurdity goes for nothing. I tell you there could have been no
earthly objection—none. I had settled the thing entirely in my
'But had you asked the Baron's consent,' said Waverley, 'or
'To what purpose? To have spoke to the Baron before I had assumed
my title would have only provoked a premature and irritating
discussion on the subject of the change of name, when, as Earl of
Glennaquoich, I had only to propose to him to carry his d—d bear
and bootjack party per pale, or in a scutcheon of pretence, or in
a separate shield perhaps—any way that would not blemish my own
coat of arms. And as to Rose, I don't see what objection she could
have made if her father was satisfied.'
'Perhaps the same that your sister makes to me, you being
Fergus gave a broad stare at the comparison which this
implied, but cautiously suppressed the answer which rose to his
tongue. 'O, we should easily have arranged all that. So, sir, I
craved a private interview, and this morning was assigned; and I
asked you to meet me here, thinking, like a fool, that I should
want your countenance as bride's-man. Well, I state my
pretension—they are not denied; the promises so repeatedly made and the
patent granted—they are acknowledged. But I propose, as a natural
consequence, to assume the rank which the patent bestowed. I have
the old story of the jealousy of C——and M——trumped up
against me. I resist this pretext, and offer to procure their
written acquiescence, in virtue of the date of my patent as prior
to their silly claims; I assure you I would have had such a
consent from them, if it had been at the point of the sword. And
then out comes the real truth; and he dares to tell me to my face
that my patent must be suppressed for the present, for fear of
disgusting that rascally coward and faineant (naming the rival
chief of his own clan), who has no better title to be a chieftain
than I to be Emperor of China, and who is pleased to shelter his
dastardly reluctance to come out, agreeable to his promise twenty
times pledged, under a pretended jealousy of the Prince's
partiality to me. And, to leave this miserable driveller without a
pretence for his cowardice, the Prince asks it as a personal
favour of me, forsooth, not to press my just and reasonable
request at this moment. After this, put your faith in princes!'
'And did your audience end here?'
'End? O no! I was determined to leave him no pretence for his
ingratitude, and I therefore stated, with all the composure I
could muster,—for I promise you I trembled with passion,—the
particular reasons I had for wishing that his Royal Highness would
impose upon me any other mode of exhibiting my duty and devotion,
as my views in life made what at any other time would have been a
mere trifle at this crisis a severe sacrifice; and then I
explained to him my full plan.'
'And what did the Prince answer?'
'Answer? why—it is well it is written, "Curse not the king, no,
not in thy thought!"—why, he answered that truly he was glad I
had made him my confidant, to prevent more grievous
disappointment, for he could assure me, upon the word of a prince,
that Miss Bradwardine's affections were engaged, and he was under
a particular promise to favour them. "So, my dear Fergus," said
he, with his most gracious cast of smile, "as the marriage is
utterly out of question, there need be no hurry, you know, about
the earldom." And so he glided off and left me plante la.'
'And what did you do?'
'I'll tell you what I COULD have done at that moment—sold myself
to the devil or the Elector, whichever offered the dearest
revenge. However, I am now cool. I know he intends to marry her to
some of his rascally Frenchmen or his Irish officers, but I will
watch them close; and let the man that would supplant me look well
to himself. Bisogna coprirsi, Signor.'
After some further conversation, unnecessary to be detailed,
Waverley took leave of the Chieftain, whose fury had now subsided
into a deep and strong desire of vengeance, and returned home,
scarce able to analyse the mixture of feelings which the narrative
had awakened in his own bosom.