The vivacity of this good lady, as it helped Edward out of this scrape, was like to have drawn him into one or two others. In every town where they stopped she wished to examine the corps de garde, if there was one, and once very narrowly missed introducing Waverley to a recruiting-sergeant of his own regiment. Then she Captain’d and Butler’d him till he was almost mad with vexation and anxiety; and never was he more rejoiced in his life at the termination of a journey than when the arrival of the coach in London freed him from the attentions of Madam Nosebag.
What’s to be done next?
Itwas twilight when they arrived in town; and having shaken off his companions, and walked through a good many streets to avoid the possibility of being traced by them, Edward took a hackney-coach and drove to Colonel Talbot’s house, in one of the principal squares at the west end of the town. That gentleman, by the death of relations, had succeeded since his marriage to a large fortune, possessed considerable political interest, and lived in what is called great style.
When Waverley knocked at his door he found it at first difficult to procure admittance, but at length was shown into an apartment where the Colonel was at table. Lady Emily, whose very beautiful features were still pallid from indisposition, sate opposite to him. The instant he heard Waverley’s voice, he started up and embraced him. ’Frank Stanley, my dear boy, how d’ye do? Emily, my love, this is young Stanley.’
The blood started to the lady’s cheek as she gave Waverley a reception in which courtesy was mingled with kindness, while her trembling hand and faltering voice showed how much she was startled and discomposed. Dinner was hastily replaced, and while Waverley was engaged in refreshing himself, the Colonel proceeded —’I wonder you have come here, Frank; the Doctors tell me the air of London is very bad for your complaints. You should not have risked it. But I am delighted to see you, and so is Emily, though I fear we must not reckon upon your staying long.’
‘Some particular business brought me up,’ muttered Waverley.
‘I supposed so, but I shan’t allow you to stay long. Spontoon’ (to an elderly military-looking servant out of livery),’take away these things, and answer the bell yourself, if I ring. Don’t let any of the other fellows disturb us. My nephew and I have business to talk of.’
When the servants had retired, ’In the name of God, Waverley, what has brought you here? It may be as much as your life is worth.’
‘Dear Mr. Waverley,’ said Lady Emily, ’to whom I owe so much more than acknowledgments can ever pay, how could you be so rash?’
’My father—my uncle—this paragraph,’—he handed the paper to Colonel Talbot.