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Chapter 16
An Unexpected Ally Appears
The Baron returned at the dinner-hour, and had in a great measure recovered his
composure and good humour. He not only confirmed the stories which Edward had heard
from Rose and Bailie Macwheeble, but added many anecdotes from his own experience,
concerning the state of the Highlands and their inhabitants, The chiefs he pronounced to
be, in general, gentlemen of great honour and high pedigree, whose word was accounted
as a law by all those of their own sept, or clan. 'It did not, indeed,' he said, 'become them,
as had occurred in late instances, to propone their PROSAPIA, a lineage which rested for
the most part on the vain and fond rhymes of their Seannachies or Barahs, as
aequiponderate with the evidence of ancient charters and royal grants of antiquity,
conferred upon distinguished houses in the Low Country by divers Scottish monarchs;
nevertheless, such was their OUTRECUIDANCE and presumption, as to undervalue
those who possessed such evidents, as if they held their lands in a sheep's skin.'
This, by the way, pretty well explained the cause of quarrel between the Baron and his
Highland ally. But he went on to state so many curious particulars concerning the
manners, customs, and habits of this patriarchal race, that Edward's curiosity became
highly interested, and he inquired whether it was possible to make with safety an
excursion into the neighbouring Highlands, whose dusky barrier of mountains had
already excited his wish to penetrate beyond them. The Baron assured his guest that
nothing would be more easy, providing this quarrel were first made up, since he could
himself give him letters to many of the distinguished chiefs, who would receive him with
the utmost courtesy and hospitality.
While they were on this topic, the door suddenly opened, and, ushered by Saunders
Saunderson, a Highlander, fully armed and equipped, entered the apartment. Had it not
been that Saunders acted the part of master of the ceremonies to this martial apparition,
without appearing to deviate from his usual composure, and that neither Mr. Bradwardine
nor Rose exhibited any emotion, Edward would certainly have thought the intrusion
hostile, As it was, he started at the sight of what he had not yet happened to see, a
mountaineer in his full national costume. The individual Gael was a stout, dark, young
man, of low stature, the ample folds of whose plaid added to the appearance of strength
which his person exhibited. The short kilt, or petticoat, showed his sinewy and clean-
made limbs; the goat-skin purse, flanked by the usual defences, a dirk and steel-wrought
pistol, hung before him; his bonnet had a short feather, which indicated his claim to be
treated as a Duinhe-wassel, or sort of gentleman; a broadsword dangled by his side, a
target hung upon his shoulder, and a long Spanish fowling-piece occupied one of his
hands. With the other hand he pulled off his bonnet, and the Baron, who well knew their
customs, and the proper mode of addressing them, immediately said, with an air of
dignity, but without rising, and much, as Edward thought, in the manner of a prince
receiving an embassy, 'Welcome, Evan Dhu Maccombich! what news from Fergus Mac-
Ivor Vich Ian Vohr?'