Imagens da página

could observe, did she again revisit the cottage.

All precautions to blockade his view were from that time abandoned, and he was not only permitted, but assisted, to rise, and quit what had been, in a literal sense, his couch of confinement. But he was not al. lowed to leave the hut; for the young Highlander had now rejoined his senior, and one or other was constantly on the watch. Whenever Waverley approached the cottage door, the sentinel upon duty civilly, but resolutely, placed himself against it and opposed his exit, accompanying his action with signs which seemed to imply there was danger in the attempt, and an enemy in the neighbourhood. Old Janet appeared anxious and upon the watch, and Waverley, who had not yet recovered strength enough to attempt to take his departure in spite of the opposi. tion of his hosts, was under the necessity of remaining patient. His fare was, in every point of view, better than he could


have conceived; for poultry, and even wine, was no stranger to his table. The Highlanders never presumed to eat with him, and, unless in the circumstance of watching him, treated him with great respect. His sole amusement was gazing from the window, or rather the shapeless aperture which was meant to answer the purpose of a wndow, upon a large and rough brook, which raged and foamed through a rocky channel, closely canopied with trees and bushes, about ten feet beneath the site of his house of captivity, ;

Upon the sixth day of his confinement, Waverley found himself so well that he began to meditate his escape from this dull and miserable prison-house, thinking any risk which he might incur in the attempt preferable to the stupifying and intolerable uniformity of Janet's retirement. The question indeed occurred, where he was to direct his course when again at his own. disposal. Two schemes seemed practicable; yet both attended with danger and diffi

culty. One was, to go back to Glennaquoich, and join Fergus Mac-Ivor, by whom he was sure to be kindly received; and in the present state of his mind, the rigour with which he had been treated fully absolved him in his own eyes from his allegiance to the existing government. The other project.was, to endeavour to attain a Scottish sea-port, and thence to take shipping for England. His mind wavered: between these plans, and probably, if he had effected his escape in the manner he: proposed, he would have been finally determined by the comparative facility by which either might have been executed. But his fortune had settled that he was not. to be left to his option. .. . .

Upon the evening of the seventh day the door of the hut suddenly opened, and two Highlanders entered, whom Waverley: recognized as having been a part of hisi original escort to this cottage. They conversed for a short time with the old man and his companion, and then made Waver-.

ley understand, by very significant sigus, that he was to prepare to accompany them. This was a joyful communication, What had already passed during his confinement made it evident that no personal injury was designed to him; and his romantic spirit, having recovered during his repose much of that elasticity which anxiety, resentment, disappointment, and the mixture of unpleasant feelings excited by his late adventures had for a time subjugated, was now wearied with inaction. His passion for the wonderful, although it is the na. ture of such dispositions to be excited by that degree of danger which merely gives dignity to the feeling of the individual exposed to it, had sunk under the extraordinary and apparently insurmountable evils by which he appeared environed at Cairnyreckan. In fact, this compound of intense curiosity and exalted imagination forms a peculiar species of courage, which somewhat resembles the light usually car.

ried by a miner, sufficiently competent indeed to afford him guidance and comfort during the ordinary perils of his labour, but certain to be extinguished should he encounter the more formidable hazard of earth-damps or pestiferous vapours. It was now, however, once more rekindled, and with a throbbing mixture of hope, awe, and anxiety, Waverley watched the group before him, as those who were just arrived snatched a hasty meal, and the others assumed their arms, and made brief préparations for their departure.

As he sat in the smoky hut, at some distance from the fire, around which the others were crowded, he felt a gentle pressure upon his arm. He looked round It was Alice, the daughter of Donald Bean Lean. She shewed him a packet of papers. in such a manner that the motion was remarked by no one else, put her finger for a second to her lips, and passed on, as if to assist old Janet in packing Waverley's

« AnteriorContinuar »