He then, for the first time since leaving Edinburgh, began to experience that pleasure which almost all feel who return to a verdant, populous, and highly cultivated country from scenes of waste desolation or of solitary and melancholy grandeur. But how were those feelings enhanced when he entered on the domain so long possessed by his forefathers; recognised the old oaks of Waverley-Chace; thought with what delight he should introduce Rose to all his favourite haunts; beheld at length the towers of the venerable hall arise above the woods which embowered it, and finally threw himself into the arms of the venerable relations to whom he owed so much duty and affection!
The happiness of their meeting was not tarnished by a single word of reproach. On the contrary, whatever pain Sir Everard and Mrs. Rachel had felt during Waverley’s perilous engagement with the young Chevalier, it assorted too well with the principles in which they had been brought up to incur reprobation, or even censure. Colonel Talbot also had smoothed the way with great address for Edward’s favourable reception by dwelling upon his gallant behaviour in the military character, particularly his bravery and generosity at Preston; until, warmed at the idea of their nephew’s engaging in single combat, making prisoner, and saving from slaughter so distinguished an officer as the Colonel himself, the imagination of the Baronet and his sister ranked the exploits of Edward with those of Wilibert, Hildebrand, and Nigel, the vaunted heroes of their line.
The appearance of Waverley, embrowned by exercise and dignified by the habits of military discipline, had acquired an athletic and hardy character, which not only verified the Colonel’s narration, but surprised and delighted all the inhabitants of Waverley-Honour. They crowded to see, to hear him, and to sing his praises. Mr. Pembroke, who secretly extolled his spirit and courage in embracing the genuine cause of the Church of England, censured his pupil gently, nevertheless, for being so careless of his manuscripts, which indeed, he said, had occasioned him some personal inconvenience, as, upon the Baronet’s being arrested by a king’s messenger, he had deemed it prudent to retire to a concealment called ‘The Priest’s Hole,’ from the use it had been put to in former days; where, he assured our hero, the butler had thought it safe to venture with food only once in the day, so that he had been repeatedly compelled to dine upon victuals either absolutely cold or, what was worse, only half warm, not to mention that sometimes his bed had not been arranged for two days together. Waverley’s mind involuntarily turned to the Patmos of the Baron of Bradwardine, who was well pleased with Janet’s fare and a few bunches of straw stowed in a cleft in the front of a sand-cliff; but he made no remarks upon a contrast which could only mortify his worthy tutor.
All was now in a bustle to prepare for the nuptials of Edward, an event to which the good old Baronet and Mrs. Rachel looked forward as if to the renewal of their own youth. The match, as Colonel Talbot had intimated, had seemed to them in the highest degree eligible, having every recommendation but wealth, of which they themselves had more than enough. Mr. Clippurse was therefore summoned to Waverley-Honour, under better auspices than at the commencement of our story. But Mr. Clippurse came not alone; for, being now stricken in years, he had associated with him a nephew, a younger vulture (as our English Juvenal, who tells the tale of Swallow the attorney, might have called him), and they now carried on business as Messrs. Clippurse and Hookem. These worthy gentlemen had directions to make the necessary settlements on the most splendid scale of liberality, as if Edward were to wed a peeress in her own right, with her paternal estate tacked to the fringe of her ermine.
But before entering upon a subject of proverbial delay, I must remind my reader of the progress of a stone rolled downhill by an idle truant boy (a pastime at which I was myself expert in my more juvenile years), it moves at first slowly, avoiding by inflection every obstacle of the least importance; but when it has attained its full impulse, and draws near the conclusion of its career, it smokes and thunders down, taking a rood at every spring, clearing hedge and ditch like a Yorkshire huntsman, and becoming most furiously rapid in its course when it is nearest to being consigned to rest for ever. Even such is the course of a narrative like that which you are perusing. The earlier events are studiously dwelt upon, that you, kind reader, may be introduced to the character rather by narrative than by the duller medium of direct description; but when the story draws near its close, we hurry over the circumstances, however important, which your imagination must have forestalled, and leave you to suppose those things which it would be abusing your patience to relate at length.
We are, therefore, so far from attempting to trace the dull progress of Messrs. Clippurse and Hookem, or that of their worthy official brethren who had the charge of suing out the pardons of Edward Waverley and his intended father-in-law, that we can but touch upon matters more attractive. The mutual epistles, for example, which were exchanged between Sir Everard and the Baron upon this occasion, though matchless specimens of eloquence in their way, must be consigned to merciless oblivion. Nor can I tell you at length how worthy Aunt Rachel, not without a delicate and affectionate allusion to the circumstances which had transferred Rose’s maternal diamonds to the hands of Donald Bean Lean, stocked her casket with a set of jewels that a duchess might have envied. Moreover, the reader will have the goodness to imagine that Job Houghton and his dame were suitably provided for, although they could never be persuaded that their son fell otherwise than fighting by the young squire’s side; so that Alick, who, as a lover of truth, had made many needless attempts to expound the real circumstances to them, was finally ordered to say not a word more upon the subject. He indemnified himself, however, by the liberal allowance of desperate battles, grisly executions, and raw-head and bloody-bone stories with which he astonished the servants’ hall.
But although these important matters may be briefly told in narrative, like a newspaper report of a Chancery suit, yet, with all the urgency which Waverley could use, the real time which the law proceedings occupied, joined to the delay occasioned by the mode of travelling at that period, rendered it considerably more than two months ere Waverley, having left England, alighted once more at the mansion of the Laird of Duchran to claim the hand of his plighted bride.
The day of his marriage was fixed for the sixth after his arrival. The Baron of Bradwardine, with whom bridals, christenings, and funerals were festivals of high and solemn import, felt a little hurt that, including the family of the Duchran and all the immediate vicinity who had title to be present on such an occasion, there could not be above thirty persons collected. ‘When he was married,’ he observed, ‘three hundred horse of gentlemen born, besides servants, and some score or two of Highland lairds, who never got on horseback, were present on the occasion.’
But his pride found some consolation in reflecting that, he and his son-in-law having been so lately in arms against government, it might give matter of reasonable fear and offence to the ruling powers if they were to collect together the kith, kin, and allies of their houses, arrayed in effeir of war, as was the ancient custom of Scotland on these occasions—‘And, without dubitation,’ he concluded with a sigh, ‘many of those who would have rejoiced most freely upon these joyful espousals are either gone to a better place or are now exiles from their native land.’
The marriage took place on the appointed day. The Reverend Mr. Rubrick, kinsman to the proprietor of the hospitable mansion where it was solemnised, and chaplain to the Baron of Bradwardine, had the satisfaction to unite their hands; and Frank Stanley acted as bridesman, having joined Edward with that view soon after his arrival. Lady Emily and Colonel Talbot had proposed being present; but Lady Emily’s health, when the day approached, was found inadequate to the journey. In amends it was arranged that Edward Waverley and his lady, who, with the Baron, proposed an immediate journey to Waverley-Honour, should in their way spend a few days at an estate which Colonel Talbot had been tempted to purchase in Scotland as a very great bargain, and at which he proposed to reside for some time.