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Romance of War (or The Highlanders in Spain)
Chapter 67 - Conclusion


Ronald's grief at the intelligence so suddenly brought him by Iverach was of long continuance. It was the more poignant, because his father had found his tomb in a desert place and in a strange country; for it is ever the wish of a Highlander to be buried among the ashes of his ancestors. When he looked upon the blade of the poniard Donald had brought home, and saw with the thistle—the badge of his family and clan—the motto, Omne solum forti patria, it recalled the memory of his father's pride and wrath when his boyish passion for Alice Lisle was first revealed to him, and of that moment of anger when he ordered him to quit his presence, and for ever.

The sight of the family jewels which Iverach, like a pilgrim of old, had so sacredly preserved in all his wanderings, awakened many deep regrets and dear associations. There were lockets which contained the hair of his father and mother interwoven, cut from their brows in youth, when their ringlets were glossy and brown; and there were brooches which had clasped the plaids of brothers, and rings and bracelets which had once adorned the white hands of sisters, all of whom were now gone, and above whose graves the grass had grown and withered for years.

Despite the romance-like appearance the procedure will bestow upon the story, we may not bid adieu to the hero in the midst of his grief, but must leave him what is styled, in common phraseology, 'the happiest of men.' After a lapse of time his sorrow passed away, and the preparations for his marriage were renewed.

On the forenoon of the 16th of July,—one must be particular on such an occasion,—an unusual bustle was apparent in and about Lord Lisle's mansion in Charlotte Square, one side of which was lined by carriages, while a crowd of women and children were collected around the door. Boys were clinging to rails and lamp-posts, and cheering and yelling with might and main, in a manner which would better have become a wedding in a country village than in the 'modern Athens.' The servants were all smiles and white ribbons, and clad in their gayest apparel. A flag was flying on the top of the house, and, at Campbell's particular request, the great stone sphinxes, which overlook the sides of the square, were adorned with coronets and garlands of flowers on this auspicious occasion. St. George's bells rang merrily, and the splendid band of the Highlanders were making the northern gardens of the square re-echo as they played the old Scottish air, 'Fy! let us a' to the bridal!' while the crowd sang and laughed, and the rabble of boys cheered long and lustily, like a nuisance as they were.

Ladies and gentlemen in full dress appeared at times at the windows of the front drawing-room, but they immediately retired when a shout arose from the gaping crowd, among whom the servants scattered basketfuls of white favours. To these Allan Warristoun added, now and then, a shower of red-hot penny-pieces, which he heated on a shovel, and threw over the area railings. These burned the fingers of those who caught them; the laughter became mingled with screams, and 'the fun grew fast and furious.'

Drawn by four fine bays at a trot, a smart new travelling-carriage fresh from the finishing hands of Crichton, came up to the door, and the people fell back on the right and left; but again rushed forward as the door was opened, and the clanking steps thrown down by the servant, who, like the smart postillion on the saddle, wore a white favour of giant size on his breast. On the dickey sat our friend, old Donald Iverach, superbly garbed and armed, with his pipes under his arm, and his bonnet cocked over his gray hairs ; while he screwed away at his drones, and looked more happy than ever he had done in his life. Double imperials, all new and shining, were strapped on the top of the carriage, and a regimental bonnet-case surmounted them both. A sword and shoulder-belt, with various guns and fishing-rods, hung in the slings behind, while shooting-bags and band-boxes were piled up in the rumble, into which the servant handed a spruce little maid, cloaked and bonneted for the road. Encircled by the collar of Saint James of Spain, the arms of Stuart and Lisle quarterly, appeared blazoned on the panels, glittering on the harness, on the carriage-top, and sparkling on the ample buttons of the footman.

'Now then, John, is all right?' cried the jovial butler, appearing at the frontdoor.

'All right, sir!' cried the postillion; and the crowd began to cheer. Stuart came forth, with Alice leaning on his arm, and the eyes that peeped in at the door discerned a crowd of glittering dresses and happy faces behind them. Ronald was in full dress, and certainly appeared a little nervous. Alice leaned on his arm, trembling and blushing desperately, but looking so pretty in her little marriage bonnet, and so interesting in all the splendour of white satin, orange-buds, virgin lace, smiles and blushes, that the crowd in their admiration forgot to cheer, greatly to her relief. Ronald handed her into the carriage, and sprang in after her. Up went the steps, and the door was closed.

'Good-bye! God bless you, my lad!' cried Campbell, fling an old shoe after them for luck. 'Remember the old Gordon Highlanders; for it will be long before they forget you!'

'Good-bye, colonel!' said Ronald. 'Say the same for me to all the rest of ours.'

'Adieu!' faltered Alice, kissing her little hand, and the glasses were drawn up. John leaped into his seat behind, and placed his arm round the waist of the maid-servant. Donald cried 'Hoigh!' and waved his bonnet; the pipes struck up; 'crack went the whip, round went the wheels,' and they were off at the rate of twelve miles an hour for Lochisla.

THE END.


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