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Chapter 18
Waverley Proceeds On His Journey
Then Edward had collected his scattered recollection, he was surprised to observe the
cavern totally deserted. Having arisen and put his dress in some order, he looked more
accurately round him; but all was still solitary. If it had not been for the decayed brands
of the fire, now sunk into grey ashes, and the remnants of the festival, consisting of bones
half burnt and half gnawed, and an empty keg or two, there remained no traces of Donald
and his band. When Waverley sallied forth to the entrance of the cave, he perceived that
the point of rock, on which remained the marks of last night's beacon, was accessible by a
small path, either natural, or roughly hewn in the rock, along the little inlet of water
which ran a few yards up into the cavern, where, as in a wet-dock, the skiff which
brought him there the night before was still lying moored. When he reached the small
projecting platform on which the beacon had been established, he would have believed
his further progress by land impossible, only that it was scarce probable but that the
inhabitants of the cavern had some mode of issuing from it otherwise than by the lake.
Accordingly, he soon observed three or four shelving steps, or ledges of rock, at the very
extremity of the little platform; and, making use of them as a staircase, he clambered by
their means around the projecting shoulder of the crag on which the cavern opened, and,
descending with some difficulty on the other side, he gained the wild and precipitous
shores of a Highland loch, about four miles in length, and a mile and a half across,
surrounded by heathy and savage mountains, on the crests of which the morning mist was
still sleeping.
Looking back to the place from which he came, he could not help admiring the address
which had adopted a retreat of such seclusion and secrecy. The rock, round the shoulder
of which he had turned by a few imperceptible notches, that barely afforded place for the
foot, seemed, in looking back upon it, a huge precipice, which barred all further passage
by the shores of the lake in that direction. There could be no possibility, the breadth of
the lake considered, of descrying the entrance of the narrow and low-browed cave from
the other side; so that, unless the retreat had been sought for with boats, or disclosed by
treachery, it might be a safe and secret residence to its garrison as long as they were
supplied with provisions. Having satisfied his curiosity in these particulars, Waverley
looked around for Evan Dhu and his attendants, who, he rightly judged, would be at no
great distance, whatever might have become of Donald Bean Lean and his party, whose
mode of life was, of course, liable to sudden migrations of abode. Accordingly, at the
distance of about half a mile, he beheld a Highlander (Evan apparently) angling in the
lake, with another attending him, whom, from the weapon which he shouldered, he
recognized for his friend with the battle-axe.
Much nearer to the mouth of the cave, he heard the notes of a lively Gaelic song, guided
by which, in a sunny recess, shaded by a glittering birch-tree, and carpeted with a bank of
firm white sand, he found the damsel of the cavern, whose lay had already reached him,
busy, to the best of her power, in arranging to advantage a morning repast of milk, eggs,