A darker departure is near,
The death drum is muffled, and sable the bier
After a sleepless night, the first dawn of morning found Waverley on the esplanade in front of the old Gothic gate of Carlisle Castle. But he paced it long in every direction before the hour when, according to the rules of the garrison, the gates were opened and the draw-bridge lowered. He produced his order to the sergeant of the guard and was admitted.
The place of Fergus’s confinement was a gloomy and vaulted apartment in the central part of the Castle; a huge old tower, supposed to be of great antiquity, and surrounded by outworks, seemingly of Henry VIII’s time, or somewhat later. The grating of the large old-fashioned bars and bolts, withdrawn for the purpose of admitting Edward, was answered by the clash of chains, as the unfortunate Chieftain, strongly and heavily fettered, shuffled along the stone floor of his prison to fling himself into his friend’s arms.
‘My dear Edward,’ he said, in a firm and even cheerful voice,’this is truly kind. I heard of your approaching happiness with the highest pleasure. And how does Rose? and how is our old whimsical friend the Baron? Well, I trust, since I see you at freedom. And how will you settle precedence between the three ermines passant and the bear and boot-jack?’
’How, O how, my dear Fergus, can you talk of such things at such a moment!’
’Why, we have entered Carlisle with happier auspices, to be sure; on the 16th of November last, for example, when we marched in side by side, and hoisted the white flag on these ancient towers. But I am no boy, to sit down and weep because the luck has gone against me. I knew the stake which I risked; we played the game boldly and the forfeit shall be paid manfully. And now, since my time is short, let me come to the questions that interest me most—the Prince? has he escaped the bloodhounds?’
‘He has, and is in safety.’
‘Praised be God for that! Tell me the particulars of his escape.’
Waverley communicated that remarkable history, so far as it had then transpired, to which Fergus listened with deep interest. He then asked after several other friends; and made many minute inquiries concerning the fate of his own clansmen. They had suffered less than other tribes who had been engaged in the affair; for, having in a great measure dispersed and returned home after the captivity of their Chieftain, according to the universal custom of the Highlanders, they were not in arms when the insurrection was finally suppressed, and consequently were treated with less rigour. This Fergus heard with great satisfaction.
‘You are rich,’ he said, ’Waverley, and you are generous. When you hear of these poor Mac-Ivors being distressed about their miserable possessions by some harsh overseer or agent of government, remember you have worn their tartan and are an adopted son of their race, The Baron, who knows our manners and lives near our country, will apprise you of the time and means to be their protector. Will you promise this to the last Vich Ian Vohr?’