Among the listeners there was somewhat less inclination than before to act this part of the story. For one thing, the boys were righteously indignant at the idea of any true hero being in love—unless, indeed, he could carry off his bride from the deck of a pirate vessel, cutlass in hand, and noble words of daring on his lips.
As for the girls, well—they knew that the bushes were dripping wet, and that if they set their feet upon their native heath, they would certainly be made to change their stockings as soon as they went home. This was a severe discourager of romance. There was nothing to prevent any one of them from asking questions, however. That was a business in which they excelled.
"But why did the Highland people want to rebel, anyway?" demanded Hugh John. "If I could have hunted like that, and raided, and carried off cattle, and had a castle with pipes playing and hundreds of clansmen to drill, I shouldn't have been such a soft as to rebel and get them all taken away from me!"
"It was because they were loyal to their rightful King," said Sweetheart, who is a Cavalier and a Jacobite—in the intervals of admiring Cromwell, and crying because they shot down the poor Covenanters.
"I think," said Sir Toady, who had been sitting very thoughtful, "that they just liked to fight, and King George would not let them. So they wanted a king who would not mind. Same as us, you know. If we are caught fighting in school, we get whipped, but father lets us fight outside as much as we want to. Besides, what did old Vich Ian Vohr want with all these silly Highlanders, eating up everything in his castle, if there were never any battles that they could fight for him?"
This was certainly a very strong and practical view, and so much impressed the others that they sat a long while quiet, turning it over in their minds.
"Well, at any rate," said Sweetheart, dropping her head with a sigh to go on with her seam, "I know that Flora Mac-Ivor was truly patriotic. See how she refused to listen to Waverley, all because she wanted to give her life for the cause."
"Humph," said Hugh John, disrespectfully turning up his nose, "that's all girls think about—loving, an' marrying, an' playing on harps—"
"I don't play on harps," sighed Sweetheart, "but I do wish I had a banjo!"
"I wish I had a targe and a broadsword, and the Chief's horse, Brown Dermid, to ride on," said Hugh John, putting on his "biggety" look.
"And a nice figure you would cut," sneered Sir Toady Lion, provokingly; "Highlanders don't fight on horseback! You ought to know that!"
Whereupon the first engagement of the campaign was immediately fought out on the carpet. And it was not till after the intervention of the Superior Power had restored quiet that the next tale from Waverley could be proceeded with.
Not long after Callum Beg had been left behind, and indeed almost as soon as the innkeeper and Edward were fairly on their way, the former suddenly announced that his horse had fallen lame and that they must turn aside to a neighbouring smithy to have the matter attended to.
"And as it is the Fast Day, and the smith a religious man, it may cost your Honour as muckle as sixpence a shoe!" suggested the wily innkeeper, watching Edward's face as he spoke.
For this announcement Edward cared nothing. He would gladly have paid a shilling a nail to be allowed to push forward on his journey with all speed. Accordingly to the smithy of Cairnvreckan they went. The village was in an uproar. The smith, a fierce-looking man, was busy hammering "dogs' heads" for musket-locks, while among the surrounding crowd the names of great Highland chiefs—Clanronald, Glengarry, Lochiel, and that of Vich Ian Vohr himself, were being bandied from mouth to mouth.
Edward soon found himself surrounded by an excited mob, in the midst of which the smith's wife, a wild witchlike woman, was dancing, every now and then casting her child up in the air as high as her arms would reach, singing all the while, and trying to anger the crowd, and especially to infuriate her husband, by the Jacobite songs which she chanted.
At last the smith could stand this provocation no longer. He snatched a red-hot bar of iron from the forge, and rushed at his wife, crying out that he would "thrust it down her throat." Then, finding himself held back by the crowd from executing vengeance on the woman, all his anger turned upon Edward, whom he took to be a Jacobite emissary. For the news which had caused all this stir was that Prince Charles had landed and that the whole Highlands was rallying to his banner.
So fierce and determined was the attack which the angry smith of Cairnvreckan made on Edward that the young man was compelled to draw his pistol in self-defence. And as the crowd threatened him and the smith continued furiously to attack with the red-hot iron, almost unconsciously his finger pressed the trigger. The shot went off, and immediately the smith fell to the ground. Then Edward, borne down by the mob, was for some time in great danger of his life. He was saved at last by the interference of the minister of the parish, a kind and gentle old man, who caused Edward's captors to treat him more tenderly. So that instead of executing vengeance upon the spot as they had proposed, they brought him before the nearest magistrate, who was, indeed, an old military officer, and, in addition, the Laird of the village of Cairnvreckan, one Major Melville by name.
The latter proved to be a stern soldier, so severe in manner that he often became unintentionally unjust. Major Melville found that though the blacksmith's wound proved to be a mere scratch, and though he had to own that the provocation given was a sufficient excuse for Edward's hasty action, yet he must detain the young man prisoner upon the warrant issued against Edward Waverley, which had been sent out by the Supreme Court of Scotland.
Edward, who at once owned to his name, was astonished beyond words to find that not only was he charged with being in the company of actual rebels, such as the Baron of Bradwardine and Vich Ian Vohr, but also with trying to induce his troop of horse to revolt by means of private letters addressed to one of them, Sergeant Houghton, in their barracks at Dundee. Captain Waverley was asserted to have effected this through the medium of a pedlar named Will Ruthven, or Wily Will—whose very name Edward had never heard up to that moment.
As the magistrate's examination proceeded, Waverley was astonished to find that, instead of clearing himself, everything he said, every article he carried about his person, was set down by Major Melville as an additional proof of his complicity with treason. Among these figured Flora's verses, his own presence at the great hunting match among the mountains, his father's and Sir Everard's letters, even the huge manuscripts written by his tutor (of which he had never read six pages)—all were brought forward as so many evidences of his guilt.
Finally, the magistrate informed Edward that he would be compelled to detain him a prisoner in his house of Cairnvreckan. But that if he would furnish such information as it was doubtless in his power to give concerning the forces and plans of Vich Ian Vohr and the other Highland chiefs, he might, after a brief detention, be allowed to go free. Edward fiercely exclaimed that he would die rather than turn informer against those who had been his friends and hosts. Whereupon, having refused all hospitality, he was conducted to a small room, there to be guarded till there was a chance of sending him under escort to the Castle of Stirling.
Here he was visited by Mr. Morton, the minister who had saved him from the clutches of the mob, and so sympathetically and kindly did he speak, that Edward told him his whole story from the moment when he had first left Waverley-Honour. And though the minister's favourable report did not alter the opinion Major Melville had formed of Edward's treason, it softened his feelings toward the young man so much that he invited him to dinner, and afterwards did his best to procure him favourable treatment from the Westland Whig captain, Mr. Gifted Gilfillan, who commanded the party which was to convoy him to Stirling Castle.
The escort which was to take Edward southward was not so strong as it might have been. Part of Captain Gifted Gilfillan's command had stayed behind to hear a favourite preacher upon the occasion of the afternoon Fast Day service at Cairnvreckan. Others straggled for purposes of their own, while as they went along, their leader lectured Edward upon the fewness of those that should be saved. Heaven, he informed Edward, would be peopled exclusively by the members of his own denomination. Captain Gifted was still engaged in condemning all and sundry belonging to the Churches of England and Scotland, when a stray pedlar joined his party and asked of "his Honour" the favour of his protection as far as Stirling, urging as a reason the uncertainty of the times and the value of the property he carried in his pack.
The pedlar, by agreeing with all that was said, and desiring further information upon spiritual matters, soon took the attention of Captain Gifted Gilfillan from his prisoner. He declared that he had even visited, near Mauchline, the very farm of the Whig leader. He congratulated him upon the fine breed of cattle he possessed. Then he went on to speak of the many evil, popish, and unchristian things he had seen in his travels as a pedlar over the benighted countries of Europe. Whereupon Gifted Gilfillan became so pleased with his companion and so enraptured with his subject, that he allowed his party to string itself out along the route without an attempt at discipline, or even the power of supporting each other in case of attack.
The leaders were ascending a little hill covered with whin bushes and crowned with low brushwood, when, after looking about him quickly to note some landmarks, the pedlar put his fingers to his mouth and whistled. He explained that he was whistling on a favourite dog, named Bawty, which he had lost. The Covenanter reproved him severely for thinking of a useless dog in the midst of such precious and improving conversation as they were holding together.
But in spite of his protests the pedlar persisted in his whistling, and presently, out of a copse close to the path, six or eight stout Highlanders sprang upon them brandishing their claymores.
"The Sword of the Lord and of Gideon!" shouted Gifted Gilfillan, nothing daunted. And he was proceeding to lay about him stoutly, when the pedlar, snatching a musket, felled him to the ground with the butt. The scattered Whig party hurried up to support their leader. In the scuffle, Edward's horse was shot, and he himself somewhat bruised in falling. Whereupon some of the Highlanders took him by the arms, and half-supported, half-carried him away from the highroad, leaving the unconscious Gifted still stretched on the ground. The Westlanders, thus deprived of a leader, did not even attempt a pursuit, but contented themselves with sending a few dropping shots after the Highlanders, which, of course, did nobody any harm.
They carried Edward fully two miles, and it was not till they reached the deep covert of a distant glen that they stopped with their burden. Edward spoke to them repeatedly, but the only answer he got was that they "had no English." Even the mention of the name of Vich Ian Vohr, which he had hitherto regarded as a talisman, produced no response.
Moreover, Edward could see from the tartans of his captors that they were not of the Clan Ivor. Nor did the hut, into which they presently conveyed our hero, reveal any more. Edward was placed in a large bed, planked all round, and after his bruises were attended to by an old woman, the sliding panel was shut upon him. A kind of fever set his ideas wandering, and sometimes he fancied that he heard the voice of Flora Mac-Ivor speaking in the hut without. He tried to push back the panel, but the inmates had secured it on the outside with a large nail.
Waverley remained some time in these narrow quarters, ministered to by the old woman and at intervals hearing the same gentle girlish voice speaking outside, without, however, ever being able to see its owner. At last, after several days, two of the Highlanders who had first captured him returned, and by signs informed him that he must get ready to follow them immediately.
At this news Edward, thoroughly tired of his confinement, rejoiced, and, upon rising, found himself sufficiently well to travel. He was seated in the smoky cottage quietly waiting the signal for departure, when he felt a touch on his arm, and, turning, he found himself face to face with Alice, the daughter of Donald Bean Lean. With a quick movement she showed him the edges of a bundle of papers which she as swiftly concealed. She then laid her finger on her lips, and glided away to assist old Janet, his nurse, in packing his saddle-bags. With the tail of his eye, however, Edward saw the girl fold the papers among his linen without being observed by the others. This being done, she took no further notice of him whatever, except that just at the last, as she was leaving the cottage, she turned round and gave him a smile and nod of farewell.
The tall Highlander who was to lead the party now made Edward understand that there was considerable danger on the way. He must follow without noise, and do exactly as he was bidden. A steel pistol and a broadsword were given him for use in case of attack. The party had not been long upon its night journeying, moving silently along through the woods and copses in Indian file, before Edward found that there was good reason for this precaution.
At no great distance he heard the cry of an English sentinel, "All's well!" Again and again the cry was taken up by other sentries till the sound was lost in the distance. The enemy was very near, but the trained senses of the Highlanders in their own rugged country were more than a match for the discipline of the regulars.
A little farther on they passed a large building, with lights still twinkling in the windows. Presently the tall Highlander stood up and sniffed. Then motioning Waverley to do as he did, he began to crawl on all fours toward a low and ruinous sheep-fold. With some difficulty Edward obeyed, and with so much care was the stalk conducted, that presently, looking over a stone wall, he could see an outpost of five or six soldiers lying round their camp-fire, while in front a sentinel paced backward and forward, regarding the heavens and whistling Nancy Dawson as placidly as if he were a hundred miles from any wild rebel Highlandmen.
At that moment the moon, which up to this time had been hidden behind clouds, shone out clear and bright. So Edward and his Highland guide had perforce to remain where they were, stuck up against the dike, not daring to continue their journey in the full glare of light, while the Highlander muttered curses on "MacFarlane's lanthorn," as he called the moon.
At last the Highlander, motioning Edward to stay where he was, began with infinite pains to worm his way backward on all fours, taking advantage of every bit of cover, lying stock-still behind a boulder while the sentry was looking in his direction, and again crawling swiftly to a more distant bush as often as he turned his back or marched the other way. Presently Edward lost sight of the Highlander, but before long he came out again at an altogether different part of the thicket, in full view of the sentinel, at whom he immediately fired a shot—the bullet wounding the soldier on the arm, stopping once and for all the whistling of Nancy Dawson.
Then all the soldiers, awakened by the shot and their comrade's cry, advanced alertly toward the spot where the tall man had been seen. He had, however, retired, but continued to give them occasionally such a view of his figure in the open moonlight, as to lead them yet farther from the path.
Meanwhile, taking advantage of their leader's ruse, Waverley and his attendants made good speed over the heather till they got behind a rising ground, from which, however, they could still hear the shouts of the pursuers, and the more distant roll of the royal drums beating to arms. They had not gone far before they came upon an encampment in a hollow. Here several Highlanders, with a horse or two, lay concealed. They had not arrived very long before the tall Highlander, who had led the soldiers such a dance, made his appearance quite out of breath, but laughing gayly at the ease with which he had tricked his pursuers.
Edward was now mounted on a stout pony, and the whole party set forward at a good round pace, accompanied by the Highlanders as an escort. They continued without molestation all the night, till, in the morning light, they saw a tall old castle on the opposite bank of the river, upon the battlements of which they could see the plaid and targe of a Highland sentry, and over which floated the white banner of the exiled Stuarts.
They passed through a small town, and presently were admitted into the courtyard of the ancient fortress, where Edward was courteously received by a chief in full dress and wearing a white cockade. He showed Waverley directly to a half-ruinous apartment where, however, there was a small camp bed. Here he was about to leave him, after asking him what refreshment he would take, when Edward, who had had enough of mysteries, requested that he might be told where he was.
"You are in the castle of Doune, in the district of Menteith," said the governor of the castle, "and you are in no danger whatever. I command here for his Royal Highness Prince Charles."
At last it seemed to Waverley as if he had reached a place of rest and safety. But it was not to be. On the very next day he was put in charge of a detachment of irregular horsemen who were making their way eastward to join the forces of the Prince. The leader of this band was no other than the Laird of Balmawhapple, who, backing words by deeds, had mustered his grooms and huntsmen in the cause of the Stuarts. Edward attempted to speak civilly to him, but found himself brutally repulsed. Captain Falconer of Balmawhapple had noways forgotten the shrewd pinch in the sword-arm which he had received from the Baron of Bradwardine in Waverley's quarrel.
At first Edward had better luck with his Lieutenant, a certain horse-coper or dealer. This man had sold Balmawhapple the chargers upon which to mount his motley array, and seeing no chance of getting his money except by "going out" himself, he had accepted the post of Lieutenant in the Chevalier's army. So far good. But just at the moment when it seemed that our hero was about to get some information of a useful sort, Balmawhapple rode up, and demanded of his Lieutenant if he had not heard his orders that no one should speak to the prisoner.
After that they marched in silence, till, as the little company of adventurers was passing Stirling Castle, Balmawhapple must needs sound his trumpet and display his white banner. This bravado, considerably to that gentleman's discomfiture, was answered at once by a burst of smoke from the Castle, and the next moment a cannon-ball knocked up the earth a few feet from the Captain's charger, and covered Balmawhapple himself with dirt and stones. An immediate retreat of the command took place without having been specially ordered.
As they approached Edinburgh, they could see that white wreaths of smoke circled the Castle. The cannonade rolled continuously. Balmawhapple, however, warned by what had happened at Stirling, gave the Castle a wide berth, and finally, without having entered the city, he delivered up his prisoner at the door of the ancient palace of Holyrood.
And so, for the time being, Edward's adventures in the wild Highlands were ended.