Waverley coloured high betwixt pleasure and modesty at the distinction implied in this question, and answered, with equal spirit and readiness, that he could not venture to offer an opinion as derived from military skill, but that the counsel would be far the most acceptable to him which should first afford him an opportunity to evince his zeal in his Royal Highness’s service.
‘Spoken like a Waverley!’ answered Charles Edward; ’and that you may hold a rank in some degree corresponding to your name, allow me, instead of the captain’s commission which you have lost, to offer you the brevet rank of major in my service, with the advantage of acting as one of my aides-de-camp until you can be attached to a regiment, of which I hope several will be speedily embodied.’
‘Your Royal Highness will forgive me,’ answered Waverley (for his recollection turned to Balmawhapple and his scanty troop), ’if I decline accepting any rank until the time and place where I may have interest enough to raise a sufficient body of men to make my command useful to your Royal Highness’s service. In the meanwhile, I hope for your permission to serve as a volunteer under my friend Fergus Mac-Ivor.’
‘At least,’ said the Prince, who was obviously pleased with this proposal, ’allow me the pleasure of arming you after the Highland fashion.’ With these words, he unbuckled the broadsword which he wore, the belt of which was plaited with silver, and the steel basket-hilt richly and curiously inlaid. ‘The blade,’ said the Prince, ’is a genuine Andrea Ferrara; it has been a sort of heir-loom in our family; but I am convinced I put it into better hands than my own, and will add to it pistols of the same workmanship. Colonel Mac-Ivor, you must have much to say to your friend; I will detain you no longer from your private conversation; but remember we expect you both to attend us in the evening. It may be perhaps the last night we may enjoy in these halls, and as we go to the field with a clear conscience, we will spend the eve of battle merrily.’
Thus licensed, the Chief and Waverley left the presence-chamber.
THE MYSTERY BEGINS TO BE CLEARED UP
‘How do you like him?’ was Fergus’s first question, as they descended the large stone staircase.
‘A prince to live and die under’ was Waverley’s enthusiastic answer.
’I knew you would think so when you saw him, and I intended you should have met earlier, but was prevented by your sprain. And yet he has his foibles, or rather he has difficult cards to play, and his Irish officers, [Footnote: See Note 5.] who are much about him, are but sorry advisers: they cannot discriminate among the numerous pretensions that are set up. Would you think it—I have been obliged for the present to suppress an earl’s patent, granted for services rendered ten years ago, for fear of exciting the jealousy, forsooth, of C——and