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Waverley

Chapter 7
A Horse-Quarter In Scotland
The next morning, amid varied feelings, the chief of which was a predominant, anxious,
and even solemn impression, that he was now in a great measure abandoned to his own
guidance and direction, Edward Waverley departed from the Hall amid the blessings and
tears of all the old domestics and the inhabitants of the village, mingled with some sly
petitions for sergeantcies and corporalships, and so forth, on the part of those who
professed that 'they never thoft to ha' seen Jacob, and Giles, and Jonathan, go off for
soldiers, save to attend his honour, as in duty bound.' Edward, as in duty bound,
extricated himself from the supplicants with the pledge of fewer promises than might
have been expected from a young man so little accustomed to the world. After a short
visit to London, he proceeded on horseback, then the general mode of travelling, to
Edinburgh, and from thence to Dundee, a seaport on the eastern coast of Angus-shire,
where his regiment was then quartered.
He now entered upon a new world, where, for a time, all was beautiful because all was
new. Colonel Gardiner, the commanding officer of the regiment, was himself a study for
a romantic, and at the same time an inquisitive, youth. In person he was tall, handsome,
and active, though somewhat advanced in life. In his early years, he had been what is
called, by manner of palliative, a very gay young man, and strange stories were circulated
about his sudden conversion from doubt, if not infidelity, to a serious and even
enthusiastic turn of mind. It was whispered that a supernatural communication, of a
nature obvious even to the exterior senses, had produced this wonderful change; and
though some mentioned the proselyte as an enthusiast, none hinted at his being a
hypocrite. This singular and mystical circumstance gave Colonel Gardiner a peculiar and
solemn interest in the eyes of the young soldier. [See Note 4.] It may be easily imagined
that the officers of a regiment, commanded by so respectable a person, composed a
society more sedate and orderly than a military mess always exhibits; and that Waverley
escaped some temptations to which he might otherwise have been exposed.
Meanwhile his military education proceeded. Already a good horseman, he was now
initiated into the arts of the manege, which, when carried to perfection, almost realize the
fable of the Centaur, the guidance of the horse appearing to proceed from the rider's mere
volition, rather than from the use of any external and apparent signal of motion. He
received also instructions in his field duty; but, I must own, that when his first ardour was
passed, his progress fell short in the latter particular of what he wished and expected. The
duty of an officer, the most imposing of all others to the inexperienced mind, because
accompanied with so much outward pomp and circumstance, is in its essence a very dry
and abstract task, depending chiefly upon arithmetical combinations, requiring much
attention, and a cool and reasoning head, to bring them into action. Our hero was liable to
fits of absence, in which his blunders excited some mirth, and called down some reproof.
This circumstance impressed him with a painful sense of inferiority in those qualities
which appeared most to deserve and obtain regard in his new profession. He asked
 
 
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