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Arthur Monteith
By Mrs. Blackford (now Lady Stoddart) (1857) - Chapter 3


For many months after this afflicting event took place, the family at Lochmore continued to mourn over their beloved and amiable child; but their grief was tempered with resignation; and in the course on time, though Annie could never be forgotten, yet they recovered their cheerfulness, and felt, in conversing on her peculiar virtues and character, a degree of pleasure that none but the parents of a Christian child can ever either feel or understand. Jessie had fulfilled her sister’s wishes with regard to the lockets, which were now worn in the bosoms of her parents and brothers; while Jessie herself had received from Mrs. Beaumont a small miniature that Annie had sat for, during the time she had remained in Edinburgh.

Three years passed away after Annie’s death, and General (now Sir Charles) Beaumont was still in India. His last letters, however, mentioned his hopes of being able to sail for England by the next fleet. “ Whenever,” wrote he, “I return to England, Arthur shall accompany me; for I am now so attached to him, that I really never could consent to part with' him; and as his regiment is likely to continue here some years longer, he has written home for leave to exchange into another that is stationed in Europe. I think, however, I shall prevail on him to quit the army altogether, and reside in our neighbourhood, if he can find a small estate that will be near Glenlyn and Lochmore. Tell Allen from me, that as soon as he has taken orders, I shall find means to fix him in a living, near enough for us to have his society; we shall then have nothing more to think of for our children but to find a husband for Jessie, who will be contented to live amongst us, for I will never consent to her removal from the circle I hope to see formed around us in our old age. I had almost forgotten to mention to you, that a very extraordinary circumstance occurred to me a few days ago, which I cannot account for in any other way, than by supposing that you carry on a private correspondence with Arthur; and yet I know not how that can be either, for the writing was not yours. I went hastily one morning into his room, when he was busy writing to England. I stood talking to him about some business I wished to consult him on, when my eyes fell upon a large packet, on which was a seal that instantly attracted my whole attention; I suppose my sudden stopping in what I was saying, surprised him; for he looked up, and seeing the direction my eyes were in, he snatched up the packet, and was putting it into his pocket, when I caught his hand. "Tell me, Arthur, from whom you received that letter? Your answer is of great consequence to my happiness?"

"Pardon me, General" answered he, "if I refuse to answer that question farther than by saying, that it was conveyed to my hands through my brother Allen. More I am not at liberty to inform even you; and therefore you will oblige me extremely by pressing me no further on the subject."

"This is extraordinary, Arthur. That seal belonged to my wife’s father, Sir Alexander M’Donald; and since his death I have never seen it. Indeed till now, I always believed that it had been lost with him, in the little vessel which foundered at sea, when he was endeavouring to make his escape after the fatal battle of Culloden; for he was persuaded, (contrary, I am confident, to his own judgment,) to hazard both his fortune and life in the cause of the House of Stuart Will you at least allow me to examine the seal, to convince myself whether I am right in saying it is Sir Alexander’s?’

"No, my dear General, I cannot even do that consistently with what I think right I have acted unpardonably in leaving to the power of chance its ever being seen; and I can only be reconciled to myself again, by your promising never to mention the subject to me."

“I found I could gain nothing; and therefore desisted from farther inquiries; but the accident, my dear Mary, has affected me more than I can well tell you. Is it possible that by any chance you have possession of this family seal? Do, my love, answer me truly; for if it is not in your hands, I will move heaven and earth to regain what, in fact, no one but ourselves is entitled to keep possession of, and which is invaluable to me, as the only relic that I know of, which remains of my much valued and ever lamented uncle.” Lady Beaumont was greatly distressed at this discovery made by Sir Charles. The seal was one that she knew was too remarkable for him not to recognise immediately. It was a head of Prince Charles Stuart, the Pretender, in a highland bonnet, and broadsword, with the cross of St. George on his left shoulder, and bearing the inscription, suum cutque; in English, ‘His own to every man.’

To attempt to deceive her husband, she knew would be vain. She would have given the world to have been able to consult her father what answer to make; but even yet she had discovered no means of conveying intelligence to him, though she saw by his notes, that he was acquainted with all the events that occurred in her house. After rejecting a thousand answers that rose to her mind, she resolved to mention before Allen and Jessie, that her husband had been much surprised with the sight of a seal, sent on a packet from Allen, and to ask him if he knew any thing about it. This she put in practice the very next day. Allen, however, took no notice of her question, but, turning hastily to Jessie, said, “I must go, dear sister, for my father expects me home early; good evening, ma’am, I shall see your ladyship to-morrow.” “Good evening, Allen; recollect, I must write to-morrow to India.”

Allen came the next evening, but had only remained a few minutes, when he again seemed to recollect something to take him away, and hastily ran off before Lady Beaumont had time to ask him any questions.

She remained buried in thought for some time after he was gone; when Jessie, starting up, said, "Who can that be on the stairs?" and, opening the door, was astonished to see Allen on the landing place. He placed his finger on his lips, as a token of silence, and then glided softly down stairs. Jessie did not understand his reason; but she saw he wished to conceal from her aunt that he had been there. She, therefore, said nothing when she returned to her seat, and Lady Beaumont, who was deeply engaged in her own reflections, never even knew that Jessie had risen.

In the evening, when they retired to their respective rooms, Lady Beaumont found on her table a note from her father; it contained the following words:

“The General, I understand, has seen my seal. No doubt it has surprised him; and it would have been better if Arthur had been more careful. However, we must now do the best we can, and satisfy his inquiries, by telling him a part of the truth, though not the whole.—Write to him, and say, that you have not the seal in your own possession; but that you received this information in strict confidence before he left the country; that for the present you know who has it, and you are satisfied that it should remain where it is, as you are certain in a few years, or, perhaps, sooner, it will be honestly restored to you, without the possibility of a disappointment. Desire him not to question Arthur upon the subject, as his honour is pledged never to reveal who is in possession of that seal.”

Lady Beaumont immediately sat down and wrote to her husband, to the effect of the above note, well pleased that she was enabled to answer his question, at least according to the known wishes of her father. This was the last of her correspondence with India; for, late in the summer, she received a letter from Sir Charles, informing her of his safe arrival at Portsmouth, in company with Arthur, who was then writing to his father, and was in perfect health. Great was the joy that this pleasing information gave to all at Glenlyn and Lochmore; and they waited with the utmost impatience to see the beloved travellers restored to their native country, after so long an absence. A whole week passed before another letter arrived. One, at last, came from Sir Charles.—He said that he had been greatly agitated on his arrival in London, by receiving a summons from Colin Monteith, to come immediately to him at Richmond, where, he said, his father lay at the point of death, and that he himself was, he firmly believed, fast following him.

“I could not, my dear Mary,” continued Sir Charles, “impatient as I am to get to you, refuse the request of a dying man. I, therefore, left town instantly, carrying Arthur with me, as Colin particularly expressed a wish to see Colonel Mathieson. What a scene have we been witnesses to! And, oh! my dear wife, what a lesson it ought to be to all those who fear not God, and despise his precepts! On our arrival at Richmond, we inquired for Colin, and were instantly shown into his bedroom, where we found him reclining on the bed, the absolute spectre of the young man we had formerly known. He rose the moment he saw us, and, advancing to me, said, "Sir Charles, my father has been wounded in a duel, and is pronounced to be drawing near his end. His own violence and irritability have greatly accelerated his fate; for he has never ceased raving since he received his wound. In every interval of pain, he calls for you, declaring that he cannot die till he has seen you; and, as I learnt, by accident, that you were in England, I have taken the liberty to send for you, in hopes that your presence may have the power of quieting his mind, and comforting him in his last moments." I answered, that I was entirely ignorant of any business Colonel Monteith could have with me; but that I was ready to afford him any comfort that lay in my power, if he was serious in wishing to see me.

“‘I will let him know that you have arrived, Sir Charles; meantime, may I request that you will remain here with Colonel Matheson, till my return?’ He left the room, but returned in a very few minutes, begging that I would follow him instantly to his father. I found the Colonel supported in his bed by pillows, his face bloated, and his eyes sunk.

The moment he caught sight of me, he screamed loudly for me to come forward, and hear his confession. I advanced towards him, wondering what I could possibly have to do in any of his concerns.

“‘Beaumont! exclaimed he, ‘I have much to say to you, and much to hear from you; but leave us, boy, turning to Colin; ‘you are the cause of my present sufferings, and have been a curse to me from your birth even till now, when on your account I am hurried so prematurely to the grave.

“Greatly shocked, I begged the unhappy man to compose himself; I would answer any questions he wished to put to me, and do any thing in my power, either to serve him or his son. At the same time, I entreated Colin to leave us, and promised to call him when our business was finished.

“As he left the room, his father’s eyes glared wildly after him, and, pointing with his finger, he said, "There, Beaumont, is the cause of all the crimes I have committed. A fetal ambition took possession of my mind, from the moment he was born, and led me at last to perpetrate even robbery and murder to gratify it’

“‘Good God Monteith,’ exclaimed I, ‘you are then the murderer of Hector’s children?’“ ‘No, no,’ returned he, ‘that crime I have been kept from committing, by means that appear almost supernatural. I have, for some time past, suspected, that you were the person who saved them from my grasp; and it is partly on that account that I have longed to see you, and question you on their fate; but though I am free from the actual guilt of dipping my hands in their blood, am I less criminal in having murdered their father and mother, and thrown the helpless orphans upon the world, to starve, or to be beholden only to the charity of strangers? Listen to my tale; and then, if you can find any hope for mercy to so great a sinner, in the creed I know you profess, exert your prayers, that a few more years may be granted to me to repent, and repair the injuries I have done both to them and to you.

“My elder brother and I were, as you know, brought up together. When young, we were as good friends as boys, being so exactly alike, would naturally be; but as we advanced towards manhood, a very visible change took place in my father’s conduct and conversation towards us. Arthur was treated with much greater attention than I was. Great deference was paid to his opinions; and, if I presumed to differ from him, I was told that it was my duty to yield implicitly to the wishes ana directions of my elder 5 brother. In short, it soon became so extremely irksome to me, to be obliged to submit on all occasions to the pleasure of the young laird, that I resolved to free myself from the bondage, by quitting my paternal home. This was not veiy easy for me to accomplish, my father having set his heart on my being bred to the bar; but, as I had great influence over Arthur in private, I prevailed on him to intercede with my father, that I might enter the army. In this, he, at last, with great difficulty, succeeded; hoping that he was not only gratifying my wish of becoming a soldier, but binding still closer the bonds of brotherly love and affection, which he believed to have always subsisted between us.

“‘At the age of nineteen, I quitted Monteith, inwardly hating the very brother who had been the means of my emancipation. At parting, Arthur earnestly begged that if I should ever require more literal means of subsisting, as my father’s son and his brother ought to do, than what my commission, and the allowance now settled on me afforded, I would apply directly to him for the supply of my wants.

“'This was certainly meant in kindness by him, but it appeared very differently to my jaundiced mind; and I swore, as I crossed the threshold, of Monteith House, rather to starve, beg, or even steal, than ever subject myself to the mean necessity of accepting assistance from one who, I conceived, had not only secured the possession of my father’s wealth by coming into the world a few months before me, but had likewise, by his artful and flattering attentions to him, entirely alienated his affections and love from me and fixed them wholly upon himself.

“‘From that day I never once had the slightest connection with my father, farther than receiving a few letters from him, which I never answered. Arthur wrote, and "wrote again, entreating that I would explain, at least to him, the nature of the offence I had conceived against my family; but his letters were likewise disregarded; and the regiment to which I belonged being ordered on foreign service, I had no opportunity of hearing of any of them for ten years. Meanwhile, from the jvish at first of being able to keep myself free from debt, lest I should be under the necessity of applying to Arthur for assistance, I gradually became so excessively fond of money, that at last there was nothing, however mean or unprincipled, that I scrupled to do for its attainment. Eager for promotion, as a means of increasing my wealth, I put myself forward in all the various engagements in which I was employed, so as to attract the attention of my superior officers; who in justice, as they said, to my known courage, promoted me repeatedly, though, in their parts, I know they despised every other feature of my character. By the time I returned to England with the regiment, I bore the rank of captain, and had saved a considerable sum of money, both from the accumulation of my pay, and from the prize money which I had gained; besides which I had contrived to buy up the shares from young thoughtless laas who were willing to part with any chance of future payment, or a little ready money.

“‘On my arrival in England I learned that my father was dead, and my brother married to a very beautiful and amiable young woman, of some considerable fortune, in the country. The news was gall and wormwood to me, and suggested the idea of going down, on pretence of visiting him, and spying out whether I could by any means disturb his happiness. Accordingly I applied for six months leave of absence; and, having obtained it, I set out for Scotland, where I arrived a few weeks after the birth of my niece Isabella, now Lady Nairn. Hector was nearly five years old at the time. It is impossible for me to describe the hatred and detestation with which I regarded this innocent child, whom I swore I would ruin by some means or other, whatever might be the consequence. I found my intentions frustrated, however, at this time, in a manner I had not anticipated. On my arrival at Monteith, I had been received with the greatest kindness and hospitality by Arthur and his young and beautiful wife; and after remaining a week or two with them, in order to reconnoitre on what grounds I had to work, I perceived that I still possessed the same influence as formerly over my brother; and therefore I had little doubt, that in a short while I should be able to persuade him to separate Hector from his mother, which was tne main object I had in view; as I had resolved that through him the blow I meditated should come.

“‘I had only begun, in a very gentle way, to throw out hints that the boy would be ruined by indulgence, if left to his mother’s direction, when I was most disagreeably surprised one day on going into the parlour, by seeing Sir Alexander Mu)onald, of Dun-Evan, (your wife’s father, Sir Charles,) who was at that time a young man, about my own age, and had served abroad with me for several years. The moment I saw him, I became convinced that it was time for me to leave Monteith, as he had, by accident, become more acquainted with my real character than any one else in the world; and I was persuaded he would as certainly unmask me to my brother, if he discovered the slightest trace of my intentions.

“'His manner to me was cold and distant; and I fancied that both my brother and his wife regarded me with less kindness than they had previously done. I, therefore, thought it best to retreat, in order to return at a time more suspicious for my purpose. The next morning, at breakfast, I pretended to have received sudden orders to repair to London; in short, I set out that very evening for England, where, in the course of a few months, I married the daughter of a rich jeweller in the city; and though the match was contrary to her father’s wishes at first, we were soon not only forgiven, but received twenty thousand pounds by way of my wife’s dowry, with a promise, if we conducted ourselves with propriety, of nearly twice as much more at his death.

"'Again I was ordered abroad, and, with my wife, sailed for America, where year after year passed on, without any hope of a return to our own country. My wife had no family, and the suspicion which I entertained, that on this account her father would leave his immense property to her sister, who was the mother of several children, made me almost detest the sight of her. Indeed, for several years before her death, after my hopes on that subject were at an end, no human creature could endure a life of greater suffering than she did. I almost, at last, grudged her both victuals and clothes; and I have little doubt that her death was brought about from privation of necessaries, added to the agony of a broken heart.

“‘This event put a finishing stroke to all my hopes on her lather’s property; and, therefore, I redoubled, if possible, my miserable habits, in order to increase my worldly stores, in that way at least, fully resolving to marry again, the first opportunity I could do so with advantage. To have an heir to my wealth, I considered now indispensable, lest it should eventually descend to my hated brother and nephew. I had, however, no such opportunity for many years. The regiment was still abroad: and I could not bear the idea of giving up my commission, even to insure success to my favourite scheme. At length, a letter, containing information that nearly drove me distracted, made me resolve to fincl a wife, at all hazards, where I was, rather than be without an heir. It was written by a man of the name of M’Leod, who from similarity of disposition, had been at one time my only intimate associate in the regiment, and had, by the death of his brother, become heir to an estate in the neighbourhood of Dun-Evan.

“‘He wrote me a long account of the illness and death of my brother’s wife, which had so much affected Arthur as to lay the foundation of a serious illness, that in the end carried him off, about three years previously to the date of his letter. Sir Alexander McDonald, he informed me, had been appointed guardian to my nephew Hector, and is sister Isabella, the only children that had survived their parents. He added, that Hector, who was now of age, had, about a month before, married Miss Campbell, the beautiful niece of Sir Alexander; and that he had now gone to take possession of the estate of Monteith. Isabella was said to be engaged to Sir George Nairn; but her guardian thought that she was still too young to marry, and had stipulated with Sir George, before he would give his consent, that the marriage should not take place till the following summer.

“‘The rage that seized me on reading this letter, knew no bounds; I resolved instantly to marry, and, at least, to have the chance of an heir for my own wealth, whatever course I might afterwards pursue. I paid my addresses to several young women, daughters and sisters of the officers belonging to the English army; but they all, without exception, gave me a peremptory refusal; my character as a husband being too notorious to allow even my wealth to weigh with them in the scale. I then looked about among the inhabitants of New York, where we were stationed; but even there, I found a report of my former cruelty had put a bar to my success; at last, I paid my addresses to the daughter of a barber in a neighbouring village, who was little more than seventeen, and as vain as she was beautiful. I was readily accepted by herself and found no difficulty in obtaining the consent of her father, who had a large family, and was glad to dispose of one of them so eligibly. We were, therefore, married, and, in less than a year, I became a father; but, alas! instead of a son, she presented me with a very sickly little girl, whom I soon hated almost as much as I had done Hector Monteith. Two years passed away, and I began to be in despair; this time, I had no hope of losing my wife, for she was a stout, healthy young woman, who resolved to take her own way, in spite of all my endeavours and authority. Again I had the prospect of an heir; and, during the whole time that this expectation lasted, she contrived so to alarm me for her health, and the safety of the child, that, wonderful as it may appear, she, under one pretence or another, absolutely extracted from me nearly four thousand pounds.

“'At last, the long wished-for hour arrived, that made me the father of a son. Never shall I forget the feelings that seized me, on looking at the infant. That the detested Hector should stand between this adored boy and the estate of Monteith, was a thought which I could not endure; and I determined, even the first night of his birth, to return to England, as soon as he could be removed with safety; firmly resolving to insure his interest as the family heir, even if I should perish in the attempt.

“'My wife appeared to recover from her confinement very slowly. She persuaded the medical person who attended her, to insist on her suckling the young heir, both on account of her own health, and that of the child; and, during the time this lasted, the same system of robbery went forward (for I can call it by no other name) as had done during the previous nine months. The slightest refusal to any of her requests produced the greatest possible violence. I was instantly threatened y his mother with the child’s death. At last, the time for Colin’s being weaned, arrived. Mrs. Lewis, his grandmother, undertook the charge of him, and his mother went to her father’s, to be out of his sight; for she declared, that she could not endure the pain of hearing him cry, without indulging him in what would pacify his uneasiness.

“‘A week passed, and the child had got over all his troubles. I wondered that my wife did not return home, and sent her a message to that effect; when a note was returned to me, written by herself the day she had gone to her mothers. It stated that she could endure to live with me no longer, and had quitted the country, never to return. She had left her son, (she said) as an equivalent for all the money I had given her, which, she added, had, in her opinion, been hardly earned, bv four years of misery and wretchedness. She concluded by taking leave of me for ever; promising, faithfully, never to annoy me in any way during her life, provided I did not resent her conduct on her parents, who had known nothing of her intention, till it was too late to prevent her from carrying it into execution.

“'I was, at first, in a dreadful rage at the perfidy of this worthless woman; but, by degrees, I began to count the gain I was likely to derive from her desertion, and resolved to conceal her flight till I could procure a passage for myself and children to England, as I did not choose to become the laughing-stock of all my acquaintances, by the disclosure. I applied, the very next day, for leave of absence; but this became unnecessary, as the regiment was ordered home, and I, of course, accompanied it.

"'It was three weeks before we embarked; and, in the course of that time, my domestic history had become public, and made me the jest of the whole place. The moment we reached London, I placed my daughter, who was three years old, under the care of an officer’s widow, that I had known something of, and who now kept a school in the outskirts of the town. Colin was too precious a treasure to be allowed to be out of my sight; I, therefore, hired a servant to take care of him, and lived in a small lodging frith him at Pimlico. I had been in town only a few days, when M’Leod called on me, and related what a dreadful state of agitation there was in the public mind in Scotland, with regard to the Pretender; insomuch, that, from circumstances which had come to his knowledge, he said he should not be surprised if a rising in the country were to be the consequence.

"'How is Hector Monteith affected?’ was my first question. 'believe,’ answered M'Leod, 'that if he were left to himself he would join the Stewart faction directly; but he is so ruled and managed by Sir Alexander M’Donald, that he will do nothing but what he advises.”

“'We must set to work then, M’Leod, and endeavour to seduce M’Donald to take part in the rebellion. Do you not think that you could assist me in this? for, positively, I will leave no stone unturned to effect both his ruin, and that of my detested nephew. If I can but succeed in once getting them fairly into the field in the Stuart interest, then the estate of Monteith is mine, past a possibility of failure.

"M’Leod and I then contrived a plot, to work upon Sir Alexander’s feelings; and, after having settled all the particulars, he left me to put them in immediate execution, having first obtained my promise of ten thousand pounds, to be paid down the day I should enter into possession of the estate of Monteith. All succeeded beyond our most sanguine expectations. M’Leod pretended to be himself a staunch Mend of the Stuarts: and, for a great while, went regularly to Sir Alexander, to cousult him on the proper measures to insure success. The latter, however, resisted every thing that M’Leod proposed, clearly showing him the impracticability of the Pretender’s ever being able to succeed, in the then state of Scotland, with plans so rash and ill-digested. M’Leod, finding that he could make nothing of him in that way, appeared to acquiesce in his superior judgment, and wrote privately to me, that unless I could supply im with some false documents to lay before Sir Alexander, we had no chance of either getting him or Hector to fall into the snare.

“‘Not in the least discouraged, I instantly set to work, and forged letters as from persons of the first weight at the court of France, assuring the partisans of the Stuarts that they should be supported, both with men and money, to an extent that must insure success.

“‘Even for some days after M’Leod had laid these letters before Sir Alexander, he still seemed to hesitate; but his son, who was an enterprising young man, united in persuading mm to join the rebels, and, after some deliberations, he agreed to raise the vassals on his estate; an example, which, as you know, was eagerly followed by Hector Monteith. Meanwhile, the regiment to which I belonged, was ordered into Scotland, under the command of the Duke of Cumberland; and, during the short campaign of that summer, I distinguished myself in so marked a manner as to gain his favour and support, which was of infinite service to me in the sequel.

“‘I now began to dread that M’Leod would betray my complicated treacheries, and resolved to take the first opportunity of destroying him. Such an occasion presented itself at the battle of Culloden, where he was stationed just before me; and, whilst .his attention. was engaged with the approach of the enemy, I ran my sword through his body, and left nim, (as I firmly believed,) dead on the spot.

“‘Immediately after the battle, I was despatched by the Duke on some particular business to Stirling. I rode ’post' thither, and, having effected my purpose, was returning slowly towards Dunblane, where I intended to sleep; when, in suddenly turning an angle of the road, I perceived you, Beaumont, in earnest conversation with two Highlandmen. What put it into my head, I cannot say, but I determined to watch and discover who they were, and, likewise, what was the business you seemed so earnestly engaged in. I, therefore, leaped from my horse, and, tying him up to a tree within the neighbouring plantation, crept softly under a wall that divided the road from the thicket, until I came near enough to discover what you were about I dare say you remember what then passed. An old servant of Sir Alexander’s, With his son, was begging you to conceal their master, till the first search should be over, and he could find an opportunity of making his escape. I learned, likewise, that Hector Monteith was with him; and I could scarcely conceal my delight, when I heard you promise to protect them, if they would instantly take shelter in the house of Mrs. Beaumont’s nurse, where you would supply them with every thing that they might want, and procure a passage for them to France, as soon as you thought they could leave their retreat with safety.

“'You had no sooner quitted the men, and they had disappeared, than I remounted my horse, rode directly back to Stirling, and gave information where Sir Alexander and Hector were to be found; but I charged the governor to conceal who it was that gave the information, telling him that I had it from you, and that, as you had married Sir Alexander’s daughter, you could not properly appear in the business. A party was sent out to the nurse’s house, which was situated among the Ochill hills. The fugitives were seized, and marched off towards Stirling. On the road, a very heavy mist came on, and Sir Alexander, complaining of fatigue, was allowed to sit down, for the purpose of resting himself, on the edge of one of the hills. He did so; but taking advantage of the inattention of his guards, he laid himself at his length on the ground, and rolled (as you know boys in Scotland often do for sport) down the steep side of the hilL So rapidly did he descend, that he was out of sight before he was even missed, and, by the help of the thick fog, he completely escaped. Monteith, however, was carried prisoner to Stirling Castle, where his wife ana children joined him, and continued in confinement for nearly six months. Meanwhile, I contrived to exasperate the government, both against him and M’Donald. The latter, I have since heard, got in safety to Leith, but embarked there in a small leaky vessel, which foundered at sea, and all on board perished.

“‘Great exertions were made to obtain a pardon for Monteith; but as I had gained'the ear of the duke, no extenuation of his crime was listened to, and I was promised the possession of the estate which had tempted me to the commission of so many crimes. Humanity, however, prompted the government to insist on a provision for the widow and children that he might leave; and I was obliged to come under a promise to allow them a small annuity, before I could obtain assurance of complete success. Under the power which this promise gave me, I determined to secure the persons of the widow and children, fully intending to take care that the latter should never reach an age that could give me any trouble. I hurried, with this view, down to Stirling, a day or two before I knew that Hector was to be removed to Carlisle, and I gave positive orders to the governor not to suffer either Mrs. Monteith or the children to be liberated till after Hector had left the prison.

“'This injunction, I have reason to believe, was strictly obeyed; but in the morning after Hector’s departure no one was to be found in his apartment except Mrs. Monteith; and from that time till the present, so far as I know, it has never been discovered how the three children were conveyed from the castle; their mother constantly, till the day of her death, refusing to give the slightest information concerning them. Most people, I believe, have given me the credit of having put them out of the way myself; but as I am a living man, Beaumont, I know no more of them than I have now related.

“'From the moment I succeeded in gaining the estate, all the enjoyment I had promised myself in its possession vanished. I attempted at first to live there; and hired servants and a governess for my children, in the view of continuing to reside constantly in the country, as my father had done; but I soon found that Monteith was no place for me. My servants, one after another, quitted the house, declaring that they could not reside in a place where the ghost of the former master continually walked. Not an individual of the neighbouring gentry would visit or associate with me, and scarcely would meet me on business. In short, at the end of little more than three months, I was forced to leave Monteith and Scotland for ever.

“'I next took a house in London, and hired a tutor to educate my boy, who, by this time, was about five years old; the man appeared willing to obey my directions in all things, and, by this quality, he soon Succeeded in gaining so great an influence over me, that for many years he directed every thing in which I was concerned, my money excepted; for, on that point, I was inflexible, and not even to him would I trust the management of a farthing. He was a worthless, debauched, unprincipled fellow, who corrupted my boy’s morals, and taught him every species of vice; yet still, though I knew all this, I fancied, as e made him a good scholar, he had done his duty, and I constantly introduced him to all the society with which I myself mixed. Chance, at last, betrayed to me a plot he had formed, of marrying my son Colin to a daughter of his own, just the evening before it was fixed to take place. I instantly dismissed the wretch from my house, obtained a commission in the army for Colin, and, through a personal friend of your own, got you to appoint him your aide-de-camp.

The expedition sailed, I never suffered him to be out of my sight, by day or night, and I felt relieved beyond description, when I was assured that you were gone. Whilst he remained in India, I gave way to every species of dissipation, merely in the hope of drowning thought; for the still small voice of conscience would be heard at every moment of solitude or reflection. Your entreaties, that 1 would allow my son to return to England, vexed me exceedingly. I imagined that he had influenced you to apply to me for the permission, and that he still meant to fulfill his engagement with the daughter of his worthless tutor. At last your letter, announcing the necessity of his quitting the regiment, unless he would run the risk of being disgraced, convinced me, that all which you had before written was true. Mortified as I was at his conduct, I yet felt relieved that his attachment to the girl at home was not the cause of his return, and I accordingly received him with real kindness and affection. He soon gave me a solemn promise to hold no converse, either with her or her father; and I believe he kept his word in that particular, though, from the time of his arrival in England, his extravagance and dissipation have been beyond any thing I even could have believed possible in a son of mine.

“'My daughter, likewise, has conspired to distract me, by eloping from the house of the lady where I had placed her, with a worth-' less fellow, an attorney, or, rather, I believe I ought to say, an attorney’s clerk, who has the impudence to expect, tnat I will provide for her m future, ana give him the means to become a fine gentleman.

“‘About a week ago, after having been up the greatest part of the night, drinking, in company with an old set of debauched companions, on my return home I was met in the passage by Colin, who entreated that I would come with him for a few minutes into the parlour. I followed, loading him with abuse, for troubling me at such an unseasonable moment. On approaching the light, however, I was struck with the expression of horror that was in his face, and asked, hastily, what was the matter?

“‘Answer me one question, dear sir, and I shall then know exactly what is to be done. Do you know what was the fate of Hector Monteith’s three children?

"‘The question sobered me in a moment.

"What do you mean, Colin, answered by putting such a question to your father. I know nothing of the fate of these children; and almost involuntarily added, Oh, would to God that I did!

“‘He grasped my hand; I knew my father could not be a deliberate murderer.

“'Who has dared to accuse me? (roared I, stamping with rage,) I will know, I insist upon it. Answer me directly.

“'Colin, for some time, positively refused to explain the meaning of what he had said; but at last he confessed that he had passed the evening in a gaming house, where he had quarrelled with a man who attempted to cheat him. Words grew high, and he had challenged the man, whose name was M’Leod; but the challenge was insolently refused, M’Leod declaring that he would never submit to put himself on a footing with the son of a notorious murderer.

“'At the name of M’Leod, I staggered back into a chair, nearly fainting. Colin, who thought he read, in tnis agitation, a confirmation of my guilt, burst into tears, and, kneeling at my feet, implored me to relieve him, by an assurance that these children had not suffered through me. This I could most conscientiously do; but, alas! I was still a murderer; though, from his having no suspicion of any other victim meant, but the children, my assurance quieted him, and he declared that he would, ere another day passed over his head, force M’Leod to unsay nis accusation, or fight him like a man. I applauded this resolution, though I privately determined to meet M’Leod myself before Colin could possibly find an opportunity to do so. With this intention, I advised him to go up to bed, and sleep off the fumes of the liquor he had drank; promising that I would accompany him myself the next day, in search of my accuser. He agreed at last to retire; and I lost no time in repairing to the gaming house, where he said he had left M’Leod. There, surely enough, I met him coming out, just as I reached the door. I knew him instantly. It was the very man I had stabbed at Culloden, and of whom, till that moment, I believed myself the murderer.

“‘Ah, traitor 1 is it you" exclaimed he, the moment he saw me. I am glad of it, for now I shall have my revenge. You thought me dead, no doubt, and yourself secure in your ill-gotten possessions; but know that the brave Highlanders against whom I had been fighting saved my life, and carried me from the field, believing that I had been wounded in their cause. They took me with them to France, where I have learned better how to choose my friends, and likewise how to unmask a villain.

"‘I heard no more; but drew my sword, and made a lounge at him, which he parried, and the next minute ran me through the body. On my felling, he made off and I lay for a considerable time before I was discovered Some one at last came up, and had me carried home; where, on the landing place, Colin met me. The shock he received at that moment, added to the agitation he had undergone the evening before, was too much for his exhausted frame, worn out by dissipation and profligacy. He burst a blood vessel in his lungs, and I am convinced, is now hurrying with rapid strides to the grave.

"'If you, therefore, dear Beaumont, really know what was the fete of these children, in mercy tell me at once, for I have resolved, as some little alleviation of my guilt, to leave them, if -still alive, that estate which has proved nothing to me but a source of crimes, of misery, and of never-ending remorse.

"'Thus ended the wretched man. I was, as you may suppose, greatly shocked at the relation of a life spent in the commission of such dreadful crimes. I tried, however, to answer him as composedly as I could; assuring him of what was true, that though I had made every possible inquiry for Monteith’s children, I had never been able to make the slightest discovery relative to their fate, and had always believed that he had conveyed them, himself, from the Castle of Stirling, the same night that their father was removed. Again he solemnly assured me that he did not, and that he could not even conjecture by what means they had so mysteriously disappeared.

“I then suggested the possibility of their being still alive, though concealed by some of their father’s friends, in the fear of his attempting any thing against them, and advised him by all means to make his will, restoring to them their father’s estate, if they should ever claim it, and be able to prove their identity. He willingly agreed to do this, and sent* immediately for a solicitor, who, in my presence, drew up an instrument, leaving not only the estate of Monteith to any of them that may be still alive, but, likewise, (in the event of his son’s death,) the greatest part of his personal property; he having consented, at my earnest entreaty, to bequeath five thousand pounds to his daughter.

“I expressed much surprise, on finding that his children were not his first wife’s, as I had, till then, believed them to be. She was, by her mother’s side, distantly related to my father; and it had been through that claim of relationship that I had been prevailed upon to take Colin as my aide-de-camp.

“‘I found, on my return to England,' answered he, 'that it was not known .when my first wife died; and, as she was a respectable woman, I was willing to allow it to be believed that she was the mother of my children; for I never could think of the despicable creature who gave them birth.

“As soon as he had signed his will, I left him to try to get a little repose, and returned to Colin, whom I found so ill, as to make me doubt even if he would survive his father. He had been engaged in conversation with Arthur the whole time of my stay with the colonel, and was now unable to speak. We saw him put to bed by his servant, and then walked out to the inn together, desiring that if we were wanted, we should instantly be sent for. We were too much engaged with our own thoughts, to enter into conversation; and, as if by mutual agreement, retired to separate rooms, to reflect on what had passed between us and our respective individuals. I have thought that the above narrative would be most interesting to you, as it completely explains the accusing letter that you received from your father, written before he so unfortunately embarked in a vessel at Leith. It has relieved my mind, in a great degree, from the fear, that by some inadvertency of my own, I might have been the means, however unintentionally,' of betraying the secret of his concealment Many years of misery this apprehension has occasioned me; and even yet feel wretched, when I think that my beloved uncle died in the belief of my deliberate guilt I shall not leave this place till I see the end of the wretched man; therefore, address me at the Star and Garter, Richmond, where we have, for the present, taken up our abode.”


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