Waverly Chapter XXIX - The Confusion of King Agramant's Camp
by Sir Walter Scott
It was Waverley's custom sometimes to ride a little apart from the
main body, to look at any object of curiosity which occurred on
the march. They were now in Lancashire, when, attracted by a
castellated old hall, he left the squadron for half an hour to
take a survey and slight sketch of it. As he returned down the
avenue he was met by Ensign Maccombich. This man had contracted a
sort of regard for Edward since the day of his first seeing him at
Tully-Veolan and introducing him to the Highlands. He seemed to
loiter, as if on purpose to meet with our hero. Yet, as he passed
him, he only approached his stirrup and pronounced the single word
'Beware!' and then walked swiftly on, shunning all further
Edward, somewhat surprised at this hint, followed with his eyes
the course of Evan, who speedily disappeared among the trees. His
servant, Alick Polwarth, who was in attendance, also looked after
the Highlander, and then riding up close to his master, said,—
'The ne'er be in me, sir, if I think you're safe amang thae
'What do you mean, Alick?' said Waverley.
'The Mac-Ivors, sir, hae gotten it into their heads that ye hae
affronted their young leddy, Miss Flora; and I hae heard mae than
ane say, they wadna tak muckle to mak a black-cock o' ye; and ye
ken weel eneugh there's mony o' them wadna mind a bawbee the
weising a ball through the Prince himsell, an the Chief gae them
the wink, or whether he did or no, if they thought it a thing that
would please him when it was dune.'
Waverley, though confident that Fergus Mac-Ivor was incapable of
such treachery, was by no means equally sure of the forbearance of
his followers. He knew that, where the honour of the Chief or his
family was supposed to be touched, the happiest man would be he
that could first avenge the stigma; and he had often heard them
quote a proverb, 'That the best revenge was the most speedy and
most safe.' Coupling this with the hint of Evan, he judged it most
prudent to set spurs to his horse and ride briskly back to the
squadron. Ere he reached the end of the long avenue, however, a
ball whistled past him, and the report of a pistol was heard.
'It was that deevil's buckle, Callum Beg,' said Alick; 'I saw him
whisk away through amang the reises.'
Edward, justly incensed at this act of treachery, galloped out of
the avenue, and observed the battalion of Mac-Ivor at some
distance moving along the common in which it terminated. He also
saw an individual running very fast to join the party; this he
concluded was the intended assassin, who, by leaping an enclosure,
might easily make a much shorter path to the main body than he
could find on horseback. Unable to contain himself, he commanded
Alick to go to the Baron of Bradwardine, who was at the head of
his regiment about half a mile in front, and acquaint him with
what had happened. He himself immediately rode up to Fergus's
regiment. The Chief himself was in the act of joining them. He was
on horseback, having returned from waiting on the Prince. On
perceiving Edward approaching, he put his horse in motion towards
'Colonel Mac-Ivor,' said Waverley, without any farther
'I have to inform you that one of your people has this instant
fired at me from a lurking-place.'
'As that,' answered Mac-Ivor, 'excepting the circumstance of a
lurking-place, is a pleasure which I presently propose to myself,
I should be glad to know which of my clansmen dared to anticipate
'I shall certainly be at your command whenever you please; the
gentleman who took your office upon himself is your page there,
'Stand forth from the ranks, Callum! Did you fire at Mr.
'No,' answered the unblushing Callum.
'You did,' said Alick Polwarth, who was already returned, having
met a trooper by whom he despatched an account of what was going
forward to the Baron of Bradwardine, while he himself returned to
his master at full gallop, neither sparing the rowels of his spurs
nor the sides of his horse. 'You did; I saw you as plainly as I
ever saw the auld kirk at Coudingham.'
'You lie,' replied Callum, with his usual impenetrable obstinacy.
The combat between the knights would certainly, as in the days of
chivalry, have been preceded by an encounter between the squires
(for Alick was a stout-hearted Merseman, and feared the bow of
Cupid far more than a Highlander's dirk or claymore), but Fergus,
with his usual tone of decision, demanded Callum's pistol. The
cock was down, the pan and muzzle were black with the smoke; it
had been that instant fired.
'Take that,' said Fergus, striking the boy upon the head with the
heavy pistol-butt with his whole force—'take that for acting
without orders, and lying to disguise it.' Callum received the
blow without appearing to flinch from it, and fell without sign of
life. 'Stand still, upon your lives!' said Fergus to the rest of
the clan; 'I blow out the brains of the first man who interferes
between Mr. Waverley and me.' They stood motionless; Evan Dhu
alone showed symptoms of vexation and anxiety. Callum lay on the
ground bleeding copiously, but no one ventured to give him any
assistance. It seemed as if he had gotten his death-blow.
'And now for you, Mr. Waverley; please to turn your horse twenty
yards with me upon the common.' Waverley complied; and Fergus,
confronting him when they were a little way from the line of
march, said, with great affected coolness, 'I could not but
wonder, sir, at the fickleness of taste which you were pleased to
express the other day. But it was not an angel, as you justly
observed, who had charms for you, unless she brought an empire for
her fortune. I have now an excellent commentary upon that obscure
'I am at a loss even to guess at your meaning, Colonel Mac-Ivor,
unless it seems plain that you intend to fasten a quarrel upon
'Your affected ignorance shall not serve you, sir. The
Prince himself has acquainted me with your manoeuvres. I little
thought that your engagements with Miss Bradwardine were the
reason of your breaking off your intended match with my sister. I
suppose the information that the Baron had altered the destination
of his estate was quite a sufficient reason for slighting your
friend's sister and carrying off your friend's mistress.'
'Did the Prince tell you I was engaged to Miss Bradwardine?' said
'He did, sir,' answered Mac-Ivor; 'so, either draw and defend
yourself or resign your pretensions to the lady.' 'This is
absolute madness,' exclaimed Waverley, 'or some strange
'O! no evasion! draw your sword!' said the infuriated Chieftain,
his own already unsheathed.
'Must I fight in a madman's quarrel?'
'Then give up now, and forever, all pretensions to Miss
'What title have you,' cried Waverley, utterly losing command of
himself—'what title have you, or any man living, to dictate such
terms to me?' And he also drew his sword.
At this moment the Baron of Bradwardine, followed by several of
his troop, came up on the spur, some from curiosity, others to
take part in the quarrel which they indistinctly understood had
broken out between the Mac-Ivors and their corps. The clan, seeing
them approach, put themselves in motion to support their
Chieftain, and a scene of confusion commenced which seamed likely
to terminate in bloodshed. A hundred tongues were in motion at
once. The Baron lectured, the Chieftain stormed, the Highlanders
screamed in Gaelic, the horsemen cursed and swore in Lowland
Scotch. At length matters came to such a pass that the Baron
threatened to charge the Mac-Ivors unless they resumed their
ranks, and many of them, in return, presented their firearms at
him and the other troopers. The confusion was privately fostered
by old Ballenkeiroch, who made no doubt that his own day of
vengeance was arrived, when, behold! a cry arose of 'Room! make
way! place a Monseigneur! place a Monseigneur!' This announced the
approach of the Prince, who came up with a party of Fitz-James's
foreign dragoons that acted as his body-guard. His arrival
produced some degree of order. The Highlanders reassumed their
ranks, the cavalry fell in and formed squadron, and the Baron and
Chieftain were silent.
The Prince called them and Waverley before him. Having heard the
original cause of the quarrel through the villainy of Callum Beg,
he ordered him into custody of the provost-marshal for immediate
execution, in the event of his surviving the chastisement
inflicted by his Chieftain. Fergus, however, in a tone betwixt
claiming a right and asking a favour, requested he might be left
to his disposal, and promised his punishment should be exemplary.
To deny this might have seemed to encroach on the patriarchal
authority of the Chieftains, of which they were very jealous, and
they were not persons to be disobliged. Callum was therefore left
to the justice of his own tribe.
The Prince next demanded to know the new cause of quarrel between
Colonel Mac-Ivor and Waverley. There was a pause. Both gentlemen
found the presence of the Baron of Bradwardine (for by this time
all three had approached the Chevalier by his command) an
insurmountable barrier against entering upon a subject where the
name of his daughter must unavoidably be mentioned. They turned
their eyes on the ground, with looks in which shame and
embarrassment were mingled with displeasure. The Prince, who had
been educated amongst the discontented and mutinous spirits of the
court of St. Germains, where feuds of every kind were the daily
subject of solicitude to the dethroned sovereign, had served his
apprenticeship, as old Frederick of Prussia would have said, to
the trade of royalty. To promote or restore concord among his
followers was indispensable. Accordingly he took his measures.
'Monsieur de Beaujeu!'
'Monseigneur!' said a very handsome French cavalry officer who
'Ayez la bonte d'aligner ces montagnards la, ainsi que la
cavalerie, s'il vous plait, et de les remettre a la marche. Vous
parlez si bien l'Anglois, cela ne vous donneroit pas beaucoup de
'Ah! pas du tout, Monseigneur,' replied Mons. le Comte de
his head bending down to the neck of his little prancing
highly-managed charger. Accordingly he piaffed away, in high spirits and
confidence, to the head of Fergus's regiment, although
understanding not a word of Gaelic and very little English.
'Messieurs les sauvages Ecossois—dat is, gentilmans savages,
the goodness d'arranger vous.'
The clan, comprehending the order more from the gesture than the
words, and seeing the Prince himself present, hastened to dress
'Ah! ver well! dat is fort bien!' said the Count de Beaujeu.
'Gentilmans sauvages! mais, tres bien. Eh bien! Qu'est ce que vous
appelez visage, Monsieur?' (to a lounging trooper who stood by
him). 'Ah, oui! face. Je vous remercie, Monsieur. Gentilshommes,
have de goodness to make de face to de right par file, dat is, by
files. Marsh! Mais, tres bien; encore, Messieurs; il faut vous
mettre a la marche. ... Marchez done, au nom de Dieu, parceque
j'ai oublie le mot Anglois; mais vous etes des braves gens, et me
comprenez tres bien.'
The Count next hastened to put the cavalry in motion. 'Gentilmans
cavalry, you must fall in. Ah! par ma foi, I did not say fall off!
I am a fear de little gross fat gentilman is moche hurt. Ah, mon
Dieu! c'est le Commissaire qui nous a apporte les premieres
nouvelles de ce maudit fracas. Je suis trop fache, Monsieur!'
But poor Macwheeble, who, with a sword stuck across him, and a
white cockade as large as a pancake, now figured in the character
of a commissary, being overturned in the bustle occasioned by the
troopers hastening to get themselves in order in the Prince's
presence, before he could rally his galloway, slunk to the rear
amid the unrestrained laughter of the spectators.
'Eh bien, Messieurs, wheel to de right. Ah! dat is it! Eh,
Monsieur de Bradwardine, ayez la bonte de vous mettre a la tete de
votre regiment, car, par Dieu, je n'en puis plus!'
The Baron of Bradwardine was obliged to go to the assistance of
Monsieur de Beaujeu, after he had fairly expended his few English
military phrases. One purpose of the Chevalier was thus answered.
The other he proposed was, that in the eagerness to hear and
comprehend commands issued through such an indistinct medium in
his own presence, the thoughts of the soldiers in both corps might
get a current different from the angry channel in which they were
flowing at the time.
Charles Edward was no sooner left with the Chieftain and
the rest of his attendants being at some distance, than he said,
'If I owed less to your disinterested friendship, I could be most
seriously angry with both of you for this very extraordinary and
causeless broil, at a moment when my father's service so decidedly
demands the most perfect unanimity. But the worst of my situation
is, that my very best friends hold they have liberty to ruin
themselves, as well as the cause they are engaged in, upon the
Both the young men protested their resolution to submit every
difference to his arbitration. 'Indeed,' said Edward, 'I hardly
know of what I am accused. I sought Colonel Mac-Ivor merely to
mention to him that I had narrowly escaped assassination at the
hand of his immediate dependent, a dastardly revenge which I knew
him to be incapable of authorising. As to the cause for which he
is disposed to fasten a quarrel upon me, I am ignorant of it,
unless it be that he accuses me, most unjustly, of having engaged
the affections of a young lady in prejudice of his pretensions.'
'If there is an error,' said the Chieftain, 'it arises from a
conversation which I held this morning with his Royal Highness
'With me?' said the Chevalier; 'how can Colonel Mac-Ivor have so
far misunderstood me?'
He then led Fergus aside, and, after five minutes' earnest
conversation, spurred his horse towards Edward. 'Is it
possible—nay, ride up, Colonel, for I desire no secrets—is it possible,
Mr. Waverley, that I am mistaken in supposing that you are an
accepted lover of Miss Bradwardine? a fact of which I was by
circumstances, though not by communication from you, so absolutely
convinced that I alleged it to Vich Ian Vohr this morning as a
reason why, without offence to him, you might not continue to be
ambitious of an alliance which, to an unengaged person, even
though once repulsed, holds out too many charms to be lightly laid
'Your Royal Highness,' said Waverley,'must have founded on
circumstances altogether unknown to me, when you did me the
distinguished honour of supposing me an accepted lover of Miss
Bradwardine. I feel the distinction implied in the supposition,
but I have no title to it. For the rest, my confidence in my own
merit is too justly slight to admit of my hoping for success in
any quarter after positive rejection.'
The Chevalier was silent for a moment, looking steadily at them
both, and then said, 'Upon my word, Mr. Waverley, you are a less
happy man than I conceived I had very good reason to believe you.
But now, gentlemen, allow me to be umpire in this matter, not as
Prince Regent but as Charles Stuart, a brother adventurer with you
in the same gallant cause. Lay my pretensions to be obeyed by you
entirely out of view, and consider your own honour, and how far it
is well or becoming to give our enemies the advantage and our
friends the scandal of showing that, few as we are, we are not
united. And forgive me if I add, that the names of the ladies who
have been mentioned crave more respect from us all than to be made
themes of discord.'
He took Fergus a little apart and spoke to him very earnestly for
two or three minutes, and then returning to Waverley, said, 'I
believe I have satisfied Colonel Mac-Ivor that his resentment was
founded upon a misconception, to which, indeed, I myself gave
rise; and I trust Mr. Waverley is too generous to harbour any
recollection of what is past when I assure him that such is the
case. You must state this matter properly to your clan, Vich Ian
Vohr, to prevent a recurrence of their precipitate violence.'
Fergus bowed. 'And now, gentlemen, let me have the pleasure to see
you shake hands.'
They advanced coldly, and with measured steps, each apparently
reluctant to appear most forward in concession. They did, however,
shake hands, and parted, taking a respectful leave of the
Charles Edward [Footnote: See Note 12.] then rode to the head of
the Mac-Ivors, threw himself from his horse, begged a drink out of
old Ballenkeiroch's cantine, and marched about half a mile along
with them, inquiring into the history and connexions of Sliochd
nan Ivor, adroitly using the few words of Gaelic he possessed, and
affecting a great desire to learn it more thoroughly. He then
mounted his horse once more, and galloped to the Baron's cavalry,
which was in front, halted them, and examined their accoutrements
and state of discipline; took notice of the principal gentlemen,
and even of the cadets; inquired after their ladies, and commended
their horses; rode about an hour with the Baron of Bradwardine,
and endured three long stories about Field-Marshal the Duke of
'Ah, Beaujeu, mon cher ami,' said he, as he returned to his usual
place in the line of march, 'que mon metier de prince errant est
ennuyant, par fois. Mais, courage! c'est le grand jeu, apres