When the dinner was over the Baron, about to propose a toast, cast a somewhat sorrowful look upon the sideboard, which, however, exhibited much of his plate, that had either been secreted or purchased by neighbouring gentlemen from the soldiery, and by them gladly restored to the original owner.
“In the late times,” he said, “those must be thankful who have saved life and land; yet when I am about to pronounce this toast, I cannot but regret an old heirloom, Lady Emily, a POCULUM POTATORIUM, Colonel Talbot—”
Here the Baron’s elbow was gently touched by his major-domo, and, turning round, he beheld in the hands of Alexander ab Alexandro the celebrated cup of Saint Duthac, the Blessed Bear of Bradwardine! I question if the recovery of his estate afforded him more rapture. “By my honour,” he said, “one might almost believe in brownies and fairies, Lady Emily, when your ladyship is in presence!”
“I am truly happy,” said Colonel Talbot, “that, by the recovery of this piece of family antiquity, it has fallen within my power to give you some token of my deep interest in all that concerns my young friend Edward. But that you may not suspect Lady Emily for a sorceress, or me for a conjuror, which is no joke in Scotland, I must tell you that Frank Stanley, your friend, who has been seized with a tartan fever ever since he heard Edward’s tales of old Scottish manners, happened to describe to us at second-hand this remarkable cup. My servant, Spontoon, who, like a true old soldier, observes everything and says little, gave me afterwards to understand that he thought he had seen the piece of plate Mr. Stanley mentioned in the possession of a certain Mrs. Nosebag, who, having been originally the helpmate of a pawnbroker, had found opportunity during the late unpleasant scenes in Scotland to trade a little in her old line, and so became the depositary of the more valuable part of the spoil of half the army. You may believe the cup was speedily recovered; and it will give me very great pleasure if you allow me to suppose that its value is not diminished by having been restored through my means.”
A tear mingled with the wine which the Baron filled, as he proposed a cup of gratitude to Colonel Talbot, and ’The Prosperity of the united Houses of Waverley-Honour and Bradwardine!’
It only remains for me to say that, as no wish was ever uttered with more affectionate sincerity, there are few which, allowing for the necessary mutability of human events, have been upon the whole more happily fulfilled.
A POSTSCRIPT WHICH SHOULD HAVE BEEN A PREFACE
Our journey is now finished, gentle reader; and if your patience has accompanied me through these sheets, the contract is, on your part, strictly fulfilled. Yet, like the driver who has received his full hire, I still linger near you, and make, with becoming diffidence, a trifling additional claim upon your bounty and good nature. You are as free, however, to shut the volume of the one petitioner as to close your door in the face of the other.