‘Let Colonel Talbot be carefully secured,’ said Fergus to the Highland officer who commanded the guard over the prisoners; ’it is the Prince’s particular command; he is a prisoner of the utmost importance.’
‘But let him want no accommodation suitable to his rank,’ said Waverley. ‘Consistent always with secure custody,’ reiterated Fergus. The officer signified his acquiescence in both commands, and Edward followed Fergus to the garden-gate, where Callum Beg, with three saddle-horses, awaited them. Turning his head, he saw Colonel Talbot reconducted to his place of confinement by a file of Highlanders; he lingered on the threshold of the door and made a signal with his hand towards Waverley, as if enforcing the language he had held towards him.
‘Horses,’ said Fergus, as he mounted, ’are now as plenty as blackberries; every man may have them for the catching. Come, let Callum adjust your stirrups and let us to Pinkie House [Footnote: Charles Edward took up his quarters after the battle at Pinkie House, adjoining to Musselburgh.] as fast as these ci-devant dragoon-horses choose to carry us.’
‘I was turned back,’ said Fergus to Edward, as they galloped from Preston to Pinkie House, ’by a message from the Prince. But I suppose you know the value of this most noble Colonel Talbot as a prisoner. He is held one of the best officers among the red-coats, a special friend and favourite of the Elector himself, and of that dreadful hero, the Duke of Cumberland, who has been summoned from his triumphs at Fontenoy to come over and devour us poor Highlanders alive. Has he been telling you how the bells of St. James’s ring? Not “turn again, Whittington,” like those of Bow, in the days of yore?’
‘Fergus!’ said Waverley, with a reproachful look.
‘Nay, I cannot tell what to make of you,’ answered the Chief of Mac-Ivor, ’you are blown about with every wind of doctrine. Here have we gained a victory unparalleled in history, and your behaviour is praised by every living mortal to the skies, and the Prince is eager to thank you in person, and all our beauties of the White Rose are pulling caps for you;—and you, the preux chevalier of the day, are stooping on your horse’s neck like a butter-woman riding to market, and looking as black as a funeral!’
’I am sorry for poer Colonel Gardiner’s death; he was once very kind to me.’
’Why, then, be sorry for five minutes, and then be glad again; his chance to-day may be ours to-morrow; and what does it signify? The next best thing to victory is honourable death; but it is a PIS-Aller, and one would rather a foe had it than one’s self.’
’But Colonel Talbot has informed me that my father and uncle are both imprisoned by government on my account.’
’We’ll put in bail, my boy; old Andrew Ferrara [Footnote: See Note 10] shall lodge his security; and I should like to see him put to justify it in Westminster Hall!’