When Janet had once finished the leading facts of this narrative, Waverley was easily enabled to apply the clue which they afforded to other mazes of the labyrinth in which he had been engaged. To Rose Bradwardine, then, he owed the life which he now thought he could willingly have laid down to serve her. A little reflection convinced him, however, that to live for her sake was more convenient and agreeable, and that, being possessed of independence, she might share it with him either in foreign countries or in his own. The pleasure of being allied to a man of the Baron’s high worth, and who was so much valued by his uncle Sir Everard, was also an agreeable consideration, had anything been wanting to recommend the match. His absurdities, which had appeared grotesquely ludicrous during his prosperity, seemed, in the sunset of his fortune, to be harmonised and assimilated with the noble features of his character, so as to add peculiarity without exciting ridicule. His mind occupied with such projects of future happiness, Edward sought Little Veolan, the habitation of Mr. Duncan Macwheeble.
Now is Cupid a child of conscience—he makes restitution.
Mr. Duncan MacWheeble, no longer Commissary or Bailie, though still enjoying the empty name of the latter dignity, had escaped proscription by an early secession from the insurgent party and by his insignificance.
Edward found him in his office, immersed among papers and accounts. Before him was a large bicker of oatmeal porridge, and at the side thereof a horn spoon and a bottle of two-penny. Eagerly running his eye over a voluminous law-paper, he from time to time shovelled an immense spoonful of these nutritive viands into his capacious mouth. A pot-bellied Dutch bottle of brandy which stood by intimated either that this honest limb of the law had taken his morning already, or that he meant to season his porridge with such digestive; or perhaps both circumstances might reasonably be inferred. His night-cap and morning-gown, had whilome been of tartan, but, equally cautious and frugal, the honest Bailie had got them dyed black, lest their original ill-omened colour might remind his visitors of his unlucky excursion to Derby. To sum up the picture, his face was daubed with snuff up to the eyes, and his fingers with ink up to the knuckles. He looked dubiously at Waverley as he approached the little green rail which fenced his desk and stool from the approach of the vulgar. Nothing could give the Bailie more annoyance than the idea of his acquaintance being claimed by any of the unfortunate gentlemen who were now so much more likely to need assistance than to afford profit. But this was the rich young Englishman; who knew what might be his situation? He was the Baron’s friend too; what was to be done?
While these reflections gave an air of absurd perplexity to the poor man’s visage, Waverley, reflecting on the communication he was about to make to him, of a nature so ridiculously contrasted with the appearance of the individual, could not help bursting out a-laughing, as he checked the propensity to exclaim with Syphax—