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Chapter 15
A Creagh, And Its Consequences
[A CREAGH was an incursion for plunder, termed on the Borders a raid.]
When Edward had been a guest at Tully-Veolan nearly six weeks, he descried one
morning, as he took his usual walk before the breakfast-hour, signs of uncommon
perturbation in the family. Four bare-legged dairymaids, with each an empty milk-pail in
her hand, ran about with frantic gestures, and uttering loud exclamations of surprise,
grief, and resentment. From their appearance, a pagan might have conceived them a
detachment of the celebrated Belides, just come from their baling penance. As nothing
was to be got from this distracted chorus, excepting 'Lord guide us!' and 'Eh, sirs!'
ejaculations which threw no light upon the cause of their dismay, Waverley repaired to
the forecourt, as it was called, where he beheld Bailie Macwheeble cantering his white
pony down the avenue with all the speed it could muster. He had arrived, it would seem,
upon a hasty summons and was followed by half a score of peasants from the village,
who had no great difficulty in keeping pace with him.
The Bailie, greatly too busy, and too important, to enter into explanations with Edward,
summoned forth Mr. Saunderson, who appeared with a countenance in which dismay was
mingled with solemnity, and they immediately entered into close conference. Davie
Gellatley was also seen in the group, idle as Diogenes at Sinope, while his countrymen
were preparing for a siege. His spirits always rose with anything, good or bad, which
occasioned tumult, and he continued frisking, hopping, dancing, and singing the burden
of an old ballad,
Our gear's a' gane,
until, happening to pass too near the Bailie, he received an admonitory hint from his
horsewhip, which converted his songs into lamentation.
Passing from thence towards the garden, Waverley beheld the Baron in person,
measuring and re-measuring, with swift and tremendous strides, the length of the terrace;
his countenance clouded with offended pride and indignation, and the whole of his
demeanour such as seemed to indicate, that any inquiry concerning the cause of his
discomposure would give pain at least, if not offence. Waverley therefore glided into the
house, without addressing him, and took his way to the breakfast parlour, where he found
his young friend Rose, who, though she neither exhibited the resentment of her father, the
turbid importance of Bailie Macwheeble, nor the despair of the hand-maidens, seemed
vexed and thoughtful. A single word explained the mystery. 'Your breakfast will be a
disturbed one, Captain Waverley, A party of Caterans have come down upon us, last
night, and have driven off all our milch cows.'
'A party of Caterans?'