’And how can you take pleasure in making a man of his worth so ridiculous?’
’Begging pardon, my dear Waverley, you are as ridiculous as he. Why, do you not see that the man’s whole mind is wrapped up in this ceremony? He has heard and thought of it since infancy as the most august privilege and ceremony in the world; and I doubt not but the expected pleasure of performing it was a principal motive with him for taking up arms. Depend upon it, had I endeavoured to divert him from exposing himself he would have treated me as an ignorant, conceited coxcomb, or perhaps might have taken a fancy to cut my throat; a pleasure which he once proposed to himself upon some point of etiquette not half so important, in his eyes, as this matter of boots or brogues, or whatever the caliga shall finally be pronounced by the learned. But I must go to headquarters, to prepare the Prince for this extraordinary scene. My information will be well taken, for it will give him a hearty laugh at present, and put him on his guard against laughing when it might be very mal-a-propos. So, au revoir, my dear Waverley.’
THE ENGLISH PRISONER
The first occupation of Waverley, after he departed from the Chieftain, was to go in quest of the officer whose life he had saved. He was guarded, along with his companions in misfortune, who were very numerous, in a gentleman’s house near the field of battle.
On entering the room where they stood crowded together, Waverley easily recognised the object of his visit, not only by the peculiar dignity of his appearance, but by the appendage of Dugald Mahony, with his battleaxe, who had stuck to him from the moment of his captivity as if he had been skewered to his side. This close attendance was perhaps for the purpose of securing his promised reward from Edward, but it also operated to save the English gentleman from being plundered in the scene of general confusion; for Dugald sagaciously argued that the amount of the salvage which he might be allowed would be regulated by the state of the prisoner when he should deliver him over to Waverley. He hastened to assure Waverley, therefore, with more words than he usually employed, that he had ’keepit ta sidier roy haill, and that he wasna a plack the waur since the fery moment when his honour forbad her to gie him a bit clamhewit wi’ her Lochaber-axe.’
Waverley assured Dugald of a liberal recompense, and, approaching the English officer, expressed his anxiety to do anything which might contribute to his convenience under his present unpleasant circumstances.
‘I am not so inexperienced a soldier, sir,’ answered the Englishman, ’as to complain of the fortune of war. I am only grieved to see those scenes acted in our own island which I have often witnessed elsewhere with comparative indifference.’
‘Another such day as this,’ said Waverley, ’and I trust the cause of your regrets will be removed, and all will again return to peace and order.’