Additional Info

Click here to get a Printer Friendly Page

Share

Check all the Clans that have DNA Projects. If your Clan is not in the list there's a way for it to be listed. Electric Scotland's Classified Directory An amazing collection of unique holiday cottages, castles and apartments, all over Scotland in truly amazing locations.

The Scottish Orphans
By Mrs. Blackford (now Lady Stoddart) (1857) - Chapter 2


About the year 1751, Colonel and Mrs. Beaumont resided on a small estate they had recently purchased, at the foot of the Pentland Hills, twelve miles to the south of Edinburgh. One evening, towards the end of August, they had come out together to enjoy a walk, and overlook some of the improvements that were going on near their house. They had walked nearly to the top of the glen, where the workmen were employed, when their attention was suddenly called towards the opposite direction to that which they were, by repeated shouts of laughter.

“Hark!” said Mrs. Beaumont, “what can that be? I declare this place is so wild and solitary, that if you were not with me, I should feel afraia to enter that part of the glen”

“There can be no great reason for fear,” answered her husband, "in this instance. I suppose it to be only the village children amusing themselves after leaving school. The voices sound as if they were in a high game of romps. HI were not apprehensive of alarming them, I should like to take a peep, and see what is delighting them so much. We must try, my dear, to get acquainted with our tenants, and perhaps the best way to accomplish this end, will be by making friends with their children. Come, let us step softly down this little winding path; we may tnen see them, through the trees, without disturbing them.”

Mrs. Beaumont assenting to the proposal, they turned to the right hand; and, after walking about twenty yards down a sloping path, leading towards the river that divided the glen, and which was so closely hemmed in with brushwood and hazel trees, as scarcely to permit them to pass, they arrived at a small spot of ground, entirely freed from the wood, and covered with the richest verdure.

“Ah!” whispered the Colonel, “this is Habbie’s Howe, that you have heard M‘Farlane talk so much about, and which is so celebrated, from the great poet of this country, Allan Ramsay, having made it the scene of his Gentle Shepherd. I am glad these little fairy voices have led me to see it, before my friend returns; for though I have looked for it once or twice, on my way up the glen, I have, some how or other, always missed the turning.”

“What a beautiful spot!” exclaimed Mrs. Beaumont; “but look, Charles, what are these lovely children watching so close to the fall? It seems to me to bei quite dangerous to allow such little creatures to be so near the water, alone.” At that moment something appeared to be thrown down upon the grass, from a tree that grew at the head of the fall, and whose branches bent so much over it, as almost to dip into the foaming torrent. A loud shout from the children was instantly set up, and a scramble upon the grass followed, to secure the prize.

“It is nuts,” said the Colonel, “they are gathering; but who can it be, that is bold enough to venture into so perilous a situation to get at them? We must be cautious in discovering ourselves; yet I cannot leave these children, till I see them in safety, and know that their companion in the tree is old enough to be trusted.”

With this view, the Colonel and Mrs. Beau* mont drew back a little way behind a bush, which screened them from observation, and continued to watch the little creatures for a few minutes, while they deliberated on what would be the safest method of addressing them. The group consisted of four children; two little girls, about six years old, and two boys, who appeared as soon as the nuts were on the grass, one of the girls called out, “More, brother, if you please, I have had very few yet; Annie has twice as many as I have.” “No, indeed, Jessie,” answered a voice from the tree, “I cannot throw any more now, for I am quite tired with climbing; but when I come down, I will divide the whole equally between you, if you are all good, and keep away from the edge of the water. I see one beautiful bunch that I would fain have, before I come to you; but I must rest a little before I try to get at it, as it is almost at the top of the tree.”

“Now is our time, then,” said the Colonel; "if he is resting, there is less danger of his falling, from the surprise of seeing us, and I must prevent him from climbing any more, if possible, in so dangerous a situation.” “Stop,” said Mrs. Beaumont, “let me go first. I think I shall manage the introduction better than you; therefore, do you stay here till I call you.” She stepped forward just as the children had sat down on the grass to place their nuts in a heap together, till their brother came to divide them, “Jessie, get up directly,” cried a voice from the tree; “ there is a ladv coming to look at the fall, I suppose: make a curtsy to her, and behave properly.”

The little fair creature raised her head, and putting her luxuriant curls of bright auburn hair back with her hand, looked timidly up in Mrs. Beaumont’s face, who, by this time, was close beside her. Deeply blushing, at finding the stranger so near her, she sprung lightly upon her feet, and kissing her hand curtsied to the ground.

“Whose nice little girl are you, my dear?” asked Mrs. Beaumont.

“William Mathieson’s, ma’am, my daddie,” answered the child; “he lives at the Carlin’s Loup, just a little bit on the other side of the water.”

“And who are your companions, my dear?” again asked Mrs. Beaumont, fixing her eyes on the other girl, who was as remarkably dark in her complexion, as her new acquaintance was fair.

“Just my sister Annie, ma’am, and my brothers. Mother does not like us to play with any one but ourselves.”

“And is that your brother up in the tree, also?”

“Yes, ma’am, it is our brother Arthur; he has only gone up to please us, ma’am, and will take great care not to break the tree. But you will not tell the new laird of him, I hope; for, perhaps, he may not be as good as Mr. M‘Farlane was, who gave us leave to gather as many nuts as we pleased.”

“Hush, Jessie,” whispered one of the boys, whose features and complexion were almost as fair and handsome as her own. “You must not trouble the lady about that. I dare sav the new laird will not be very angry with us for gathering the nuts, when he Knows we had Mr. M‘Farlane’s leave; and if he does not like to allow us to continue to take them, he has only to tell us so, and we shall never come here again: so, if she pleases to tell him she saw us, there will be no harm done. We are not taking them in secret* like thieves; father teaches us better than that, and he would be as angry with us as the laird could be, if we were to do anything of the kind.”

Jessie blushed again, deeply, at her brother’s reproof; and Mrs. Beaumont feeling anxious to get the boy safely out of the tree, walked forward towards the fall, to speak to him. She did not see him, till she got close to the brink of the river, the thick branches of the trees and brushwood completely covering him from observation. But when she did discover where he was, she could scarcely refrain from screaming with alarm, at his dangerous situation. The branch he was sitting on, hung directly over the fall, which was about fourteen or fifteen feet high, and from his curiosity to observe the stranger, he had been tempted to come forward, almost to the middle of it. He was a boy about eleven or twelve years old. His countenance appeared to Mrs. Beaumont, when she first caught a sight of it, as the handsomest she had ever seen; and as he bowed his head, on perceiving he was observed, she felt, as she afterwards often told her husband, as if the smile that passed over his face at the moment, had recalled to her recollection the features of an old friend, and had attached her to himself for life.

For a few moments, Mrs. Beaumont was so astonished and confused, with the sort of feeling that Arthur’s manner and appearance created in her, as to be wholly unable to speak to him. At last she addressed him, entreating that he would not attempt to move, till she got a gentleman who was waiting for her to assist him from the tree.

“I would willingly obey you, madam,” answered the boy, “if I did not think that I can descend from where I am, much safer alone’ than with the assistance of any one. I am accustomed to climb every day; often in much more dangerous places than this is; and, I believe, there are very few men in the country can venture further than I continually do. You shall see me beside you in safety, in a second, if you wish it. I can come another day for the nuts at the top, if Jessie will give me leave; but I must ask her first, as I promised her that bunch, and I never am worse than my word”

Little Jessie was, by this time, dose to Mrs. Beaumont, and eagerly called to her brother to come down, since the lady wished it; and before Mrs. Beaumont was aware of his intention, Arthur had swung himself from the bough on which he sat, and passed so rapidly among the branches as to be entirely out of sight in a second, and almost immediately appeared again, running towards her on the same side of the water with herself.

“You see,” exclaimed he, “there was no danger, madam, at least none to me, who am so accustomed to climb; but it would be very different with my brothers. I never allow them to climb in such places as this; and they are very good boys, and always mind what I tell them.”

“And you, dear Arthur, are very kind; for you never mind any trouble, if you can please us, and, therefore, we should be very naughty boys if we did not do what you wish us.”

Colonel Beaumont, the moment he saw Arthur join the rest, stepped from his concealment; which Arthur perceiving, he went directly up to him, and said—

“It is the new laird, I believe. I have teen gathering a few nuts for my brothers and sisters. I hope you are not displeased with me, sir, for doing so: the gentleman who formerly lived here, gave all the children of the village permission to gather them; but if you, sir, don’t choose to allow us the same liberty, I will promise never to touch one again.”

“My dear,” answered the Colonel, smiling, “I have no objection at all to your gathering the nuts; but I really am very much afraid to allow you to climb in such a dangerous place to get at them. What would become of you, if, by any chance, the bough were to break when you were on it? or, if you should chance to slip your feet, instant death must be the consequence. I can scarcely tell you, my little fellow, how miserable it made me, for the last quarter since I have known your danger.”

“Indeed!” exclaimed Arthur, turning suddenly round to the Colonel; “then, sir, I will never, as long as I live, go upon that tree again.”

“You are a very good boy,” answered the Colonel, “and since you have so willingly agreed to please me, I must try if I cannot, in return, do something to please you. I should like very much to walk home with you to your father’s, in order to tell him how much his son remembers and practises his instructions. I wish to become acquainted with him, for I am sure he must be both a good and a sensible man, to have so well trained his children.”

“He is, indeed, sir,” exclaimed Arthur, “the best of men.”

The Colonel, surprised with the eagerness of the boy, turned round, which Arthur perceiving, hastily added, “I love my father so dearly, that I could not help saying so, and my mother, too. I do not think there is so happy a family in the village, as we are.”

“I am glad to hear you speak thus, my dear, for nothing can afford me greater pleasure, than to find the tenants and workmen upon my estate happy and virtuous. But you must tell me what is your father’s employment; perhaps I may be able to be of service to him, now that I am come to live amongst you. He must find it difficult, I think, to support so large a family, and keep you all so nice and tidy as you are.”

“I don’t know as to that, sir,” answered Arthur; “my father never complains, and always tells us, if we are but good children he cares but little for anything else. My mother, to be sure, often wishes she were rich enough to send me to the school at Linton, for my father will not allow me to go to the village school at Carlin’s Loup, as he says he can teach me better himself, in the evenings, . than I could be taught by old Mary; but I always tell her, that when I am able to work and get a little money, I shall then pay for my own schooling, without burthening my father any more than I can help. Do you think, sir, I shall be able to learn Latin, after I am fifteen? for that is the only thing I am afraid of, as my mother says she is afraid I shall be too old.”

“Yes, my dear, I think, if you wish very much to learn Latin, you may easily acquire it, even if you are twenty before you begin; but can you read and write English? for that, I think, is of much more consequence, for a boy like you, than learning Latin.”

“O yes, sir,” answered Arthur, smiling,

“I can both read and write, my father says, as well as most boys of my age, and I know a little of arithmetic and geography; but I am afraid I have forgotten the last in some degree, as my father has no time, in the summer, to teach me; and besides, he is not rich enough to buy a book; for me, that he says I ought to have; so I doubt I shall not be able to learn much more, till I can work for it myself.”

Colonel Beaumont walked on, chatting in this manner with the boy, and wondering in his own mind, how a common ploughman could have given his son such a desire for instruction, accompanied with so much good sense. He addressed the other children, now and then, who answered his questions readily enough, though they were evidently more abashed at the notice taken of them than their elder brother.

Mrs. Beaumont, meantime, was endeavouring to make friends with the little girls; she held Jessie by the hand, as she walked along, while Annie, as if fearful of losing her sister, kept a firm hold of her on the other side. At first they were both very shy, and only answered her questions by monosyllables; but, gradually becoming more familiar, they chatted and talked of all their little pleasures and enjoyments; and, by the time they came in sight of the dozen cottages that formed the village of Carlin’s Loup, she had been promised, by Jessie, a present of one of her white hen’s eggs, and a moss rose from Annie’s rose tree.

The Carlin’s Loup is built under two high hills which stand directly opposite to each other, overhanging the turnpike road; and in former ages, when the stories of witches and warlocks were believed, this place was supposed to be a favourite resort of the witches of the country, who began all their incantations by leaping across the road, from hill to hill, seven times, before they proceeded to business. From this foolish tradition it acquired its name Carlin, meaning in Scotland, an old woman, and Loup, to leap. The immediate predecessor of Colonel Beaumont being anxious to improve the houses and situations of his poor tenants, fixed on this spot, from the shelter the hills afforded it, as a convenient place for erecting a small village, in which all who had worked on the estate for three years, and had conducted themselves well during that time, were entitled to a house and a small piece of ground for raising vegetables.

“Our father’s house is at the further end of the village,” said Arthur, as they drew near; “shall I run before, and tell him to meet you, sir? perhaps the lady will not like to go into our house, for I have heard my mother say that the peat smoke is very disagreeable to those who are not used to it.” “Oh, no,” cried Mrs. Beaumont, “you must not run away from us; your sisters have promised to shew me their chickens, and their garden; and, besides, I want to be introduced to your mother.”

“Perhaps,” said her husband, “it may be as well to let Arthur run before us, and tell his parents we are coming to visit them; it is a piece of civility, I think, we ought to shew them; and which they have a right to expect from us.”

“I will run forward,” said one of the younger boys; “Arthur may stay and walk with the laird, for he can speak better to him than I can.” “Run away, then, Jamie,” answered Arthur, “for my mother will wonder what has kept us so late; and, perhaps my father may have begun to eat his supper.”

Away ran Jamie, like an arrow out of a bow; and by the time the party reached the cottage, both the father and the mother were come out of the door to receive them. They were dressed exactly like other labouring people of the country, though perfectly neat and clean.

“Your name, my friend,” said the Colonel, addressing the cottager, "is William Mathieson, your son tells me. Accident has introduced us to your children, and they have at our desire, brought us here to see you. I have been much gratified in finding a family living on my estate, so extremely well brought up, and I wish to become acquainted with , the parents of children, who are taught so well how to conduct themselves. If we are not intruding at an improper time, we wish to have some conversation with you; and I think my wife will be refreshed by a little rest, for we have had a long walk.”

“If, sir,” answered William, “you will honour my wife so far as to rest under our humble roof, you are heartily welcome. I hope my children have not been trespassing in any way, in the glen, to attract your attention. Mr. M‘Farlane was always so indulgent to the children of the village, that, perhaps, they may have ventured nearer to the house than you, or your lady, approve of; but if it is so, when I know your pleasure, I shall take care that they never do so again.”

“O no, William,” said Mrs. Beaumont, “the children have committed no offence; on the contrary, they have amused me extremely; and, if you will give us leave, your daughters and I are going to be very good friends in future; and you must let them come and visit me, when you and your wife can spare them.”

William bowed, and made way for Mrs. Beaumont to enter the little hut, for it was not much better, as, in those days, the cottages in Scotland were very poor little places even the best of them. William’s appeared better than was usually met with, by being kept extremely clean and neat; but in every other respect it was exactly like the other houses in the village. The good woman of the house offered her visitor a large armchair. by the side of the fire; and she was no sooner seated, than the two little girls placed themselves by her side, eager to show their new friend their kitten and their chickens, of whom they had talked so much during their walk.

“Don’t be so troublesome, my dears,” said their mother. “I hope you will excuse their ignorance, ma’am; poor things, it is meant in kindness on their part, although it must seem foolish to a lady like you.” “Not in the least, Jane,” answered Mrs. Beaumont, who had learned the mother’s name. “On the contrary, I am quite delighted to find them so familiar with me; and you must not hinder us from getting better acquainted with each other.”

When the Colonel came in, he remarked the air of neatness in the house, and glancing towards the round table that stood in the middle of the little room, asked William what he had been reading? "It is the Bible, sir,” answered he; “we were just preparing for family worship, and forgot to put away the books before you came in.” "Come here, Arthur,” said the Colonel, “and let me hear how well you can read. He tells me, William, that you have taught him entirely youxsel£”

"Yes, sir,” answered William; "I cannot afford to do so much as I wish for him, but I hope I do not neglect instructing him in whatever I am able to teach myself; he is a good boy, and takes to his book as well as I could desire.”

Arthur took up the Bible, and read a chapter in a clear, distinct voice. When he had finished, the Colonel expressed his surprise at his acquirements, ana told his father he thought he did him great credit as a scholar.

“My brothers read nearly as well as I do,” said Arthur, "and even Jessie and Annie are beginning to read the Bible. My father takes so much pains with us all, that we must be good scholars, or it would be a great shame.” William smiled, and answered, “You see, sir, Arthur is determined that I shall have my full portion of the merit of his scholarship; but the real secret is, that we all do our best, and when that is the case, success is pretty certain; I really believe he has as much pleasure in learning, as I have in teaching; and our only regret is, that we cannot devote more of our time to pursuits that give us so much delight.”

They continued to converse together for some time: every minute the Colonel remained, increased his surprise and admiration of both father and son, and determined him, if the father was willing to part with the boy, to propose taking him into his own family, and breeding him up as a servant, to wait on himself. With this view, he called to him, and asked him if he had any objections to come and live with him at Glenlyn.

“In what situation, sir?” asked Artnur, colouring deeply, as he put the question.

“As a servant boy, my dear, to wait upon me and your mistress. In the evenings, if you continue to conduct yourself properly, I will hear you read myself; and, perhaps, in the summer months, I may put you to school, if you still continue to wish to learn Latin, as you told me you did, during our walk.”

“I am extremely obliged to you, sir, for the offer you have made me, but I cannot leave home yet. My father has very little time to bestow upon my brothers; and I now am able to teach them a great deal. I hope you will not be offended with me for refusing to accept your kindness, which I feel very grateful for, though I must decline it.”

"I shall riot take your answer to-night, Arthur; think on what I have said, and come to Glenlyn to-morrow evening; and then, if you still think it best for you to remain at home, and your father wishes it, I shall not press you farther on the subject.” The Colonel, as he said this, rose to take leave; and Mrs. Beaumont having made William and Jane promise to send Jessie and Annie along with their brother the next evening, to visit her, they quitted the cottage, and returned home delighted with the accident that had introduced them to so interesting a family.

As soon as they had left the cottage William seated himself at the table, and, opening the sacred volume, began the usual evening service, which was no sooner concluded, than his wife placed a large dish of hot potatoes on the table, and desired the children to make haste and eat their supper, as it was late, and she was obliged to be up early the next morning, to carry her eggs and butter to the market at Linton. All obeyed her but Arthur, who sat leaning his head upon the window-seat, without appearing to hear her. “Won’t you come to your supper, my dear?” said Jane, after the rest were seated; “the potatoes will be cold if you do not eat them soon.”

“No, thank you, mother,” answered Arthur, “I cannot eat just now.”

“Leave him alone, Jane,” said William; "I must talk to him a little after the voung ones are in bed. Put a few potatoes by the fire to keep warm; perhaps he may like them better by and by.”

Jane sighed, and did as her husband advised her. During the. time the supper lasted, both listened eagerly to Allen and Jamie’s account of their first meeting with the laird and his lady; as soon as the meal was finished, the children were undressed and put into bed in a small apartment which ' 1 for the sleeping room of When they were gone, Arthur rose from his seat, and, coming up to his father, burst into tears. “I am afraid, dear father, that I am a very proud, naughty boy, in having refused the offer that the laird has so kindly made me; but I cannot easily bring my mind to become a servant. My brother and dear Jessie are much happier than I am; for they have no recollections to disturb their minds; but, though I love you as dearly as they do, vet I know I am hot your son, and I cannot oelieve that, if my own father and mother had lived, they would have wished me to be a servant to any lady.”

"You surprise me greatly, Arthur,” said William; "I had no idea you had any recollection of having any other father and mother than Jane and I. Tell me, my dear boy, all you can remember about yourself, that I may warn you against ever allowing any other person being let into the secret.”

"I do not recollect a great deal,” answered Arthur, “till I was living in some sort of a prison; I think it must have been with my father and mother. I am quite sure it was neither you nor Jane I was with; but that, if I am not greatly deceived, my parents were gentlefolks, like the laird and that lady that has just been here. I remember my mother wore a gold watch; for she used to let me put it to my ear to hear it tick. She was always crying, and my father used to talk a great deal to me about being a good boy, and being a comfort to her when he was dead. The last thing I recollect of them, was, that one morning my father put me into a basket, after he had made me promise not to cry, nor be frightened, as he said that he would take great care that I should not fall. He told me, then, that I was going to you, who would take care of me, till either he or my mother came to Edinburgh for me. I well remember how much I was afraid, when I was in the basket; and afterwards recollect standing and watching its coming down with poor little Jessie in it. Allen was beside me, but I don’t recollect seeing him come down. Allen and I were then put into a pair of panniers across a jackass; and, from that time, I have never seen nor heard a word of my father and mother. Once, when I asked yon when they would come for us, as they had promised, you told me they were dead; and that you and your wife were now our parents. I did not, for some years, think much about them, but lately I have felt very curious to know what really did happen to our dear father and mother; and when I have been thinking on what I shall like to be when I am old enough to work, my father’s face always comes to my recollection, and I wish I could be what he was, which, I fancy, was a soldier.”

William listened to Arthur’s story with real concern. He had flattered himself that the child had entirely forgotten all that had happened in his infancy, from his never having, for several years, alluded to it in the slightest degree. He had no intention of allowing him to accept Colonel Beaumont’s offer, though he scarcely knew how he could refuse, what appeared to those who were not in the secret, so greatly for the boy’s advantage; yet, at the time it was made, he hesitated what answer to give. Arthur, however, saved him at once from the necessity of interfering; and, indeed, he had intended to speak to him in private that very evening, ana to tell him what were his own wishes for his future pursuits.

When William returned to Edinburgh, after seeing his poor masters execution, he found the children and his wife placed in a small house in the Canongate, which their mother’s aunt, Mrs. Campbell, had taken for them. She was a very good, kind-hearted old woman; and, had she lived, would have superintended the health and education of her niece’s unfortunate orphans, to the utmost of her power; but she was old and feeble, and has very little money to bestow on any one, possessing no more than what was absolutely necessary for her own support. During the two years she lived she nearly divided her small pittance with them; and, on finding her end drawing near, she sent for William, and, after receiving from him a solemn promise never to forsake them, put into his bands three hundred pounds, which she advised him to place out at interest, to defray, in some measure, the expense of their living with him, till the boys were old enough to go into some way of earning their own living. It would then be some provision for the girl, who, of course, was more helpless than the boys, and required the principal more than they did. Mrs. Campbell died; and William, after placing the legacy in safe hands, resolved to allow the interest to run up, while the boys were young, in order that, if they had nothing else to depend on, he might be able to educate them for the church, which he conceived was the easiest way of placing them in the situation of gentlemen; for he could not bear the idea of bringing up his master’s children in the same rank as himself

Colonel Monteith, their uncle, had, on the death of their poor father, succeeded completely in securing for himself the property, which had been forfeited to the Crown. Fearful, however, that, at some future time, the orphans might appear and give him trouble, or, at least, bring a certain degree of odium upon his character, if he did not pro* vide for them in some way, considering how nearly they were related to him, he never relaxed in his anxious search for them; and only the last time William had been in Edinburgh, he heard that he had offered a considerable reward to any of the tenants who should discover what had become of them. It therefore became of the greatest importance to keep them yet, for a few years, entirely in concealment William’s vexation was extreme at finding Arthur’s memory so tenacious, and he sat for some minutes considering how he should answer him, so as neither to intrust him with the secret of his birth, nor yet to allow him to believe he wished to deceive him: at last he said:—

“Arthur, my dear, I had hoped, as I told you before, that you had entirely forgotten what certainly did pass in your childhood I should have been much happier, had been so; as you are too young yet to be intrusted with a secret, which, if it was discovered, might prove of very serious consequence to us all. You say you remember that your father desired you, when he parted from you, to obey me till he saw you again. Alas I my dear lx>y, he too well knew, at that moment, that, in all human probability, he was never likely to see you again in this world; and he meant to impress upon your young mind the necessity of your considering me in the light of a father for the future. I was near him at the hour of his death, and I then received a solemn charge to consider you, from that time, as my children, and to rear you up in the belief that you were so. It was an awful moment, and the solemn vow I then made to my dying master shall never be broken while there is a necessity for performing it. I have bestowed much pains in forming your mind to virtue, and in instructing you, to the best of my poor ability, in religious knowledge. Will it be asking too much from you in return, if I require from you a promise to restrain your curiosity on this subject for a few years? Best assured, my dear child, that it is for your own and your brother and sister’s benefit that I require this promise; and that the moment I think I can, with safety, explain to you the history and misfortunes of your dear parents, I will lose not a moment in communicating to you all that concerns them. It has never been my intention to allow you to go into any menial employment. I have, by economy, and by my wife’s assistance in managing our limited means been enabled to put by a small sum, with the view of sending you to Linton school, next spring; there, I hope, you will endeavour to become a sufficient scholar to be fit for going to college in time; and, unless you very much dislike my plan, I wish you to study divinity, and become a minister. If I could do more for you, I would; but I have very little in my own power, and I dare not apply where I might, perhaps, get assistance, without running the risk of betraying you all to your watchful enemy; and, besides, by so doing, I must disobey the solemn charge I received from your father, never to trust you in the power of any of his relations.”

Arthur raised his head, and clasping William’s hand, said—

“Forgive me, my more than father, for having given you this uneasiness. I never will, I promise you, from this moment, mention the subject again, till you choose to explain what I must ever feel so anxious to ear. My father’s wishes must be as commands to me; and, as you are the best judge of what they were, I will never dispute your orders in anything in which you please to direct me; but one question I must ask, before we quit the subject. Did my father particularly wish me to be a minister?”

"No, my dear; he left no directions, further than that I was to act in the best way I could for your advantage, and that is the only way I can think of that will give you a chance of returning into your own proper situation in life.”

“I am glad of it,” answered Arthur, springing up, "for now I may tell you, that I cannot think of being anything but a soldier; and, unless you absolutely command me to be a minister, I am sure I never shall change my mind. Let Jamie go to school at Linton, and let me try what I can do for myself. I think I know a way in which I shall be able to make a little money, while I am too young to be a soldier; and, perhaps, when the time comes for me to leave you, this new laird may help me forward in the very way I have so much at heart.”

William, who did not at all relish the idea of Arthur’s being a soldier, talked a long while with him, trying to convince him how wrong it would be in him (even if there were no other objections to the plan) to leave his brother and sister; but Arthur still kept firm to his own resolution, and was quite unconvinced by any argument he could use. At last, William thought it best to dispute the point no further at that time, only saying, before he dismissed him for the night, that nothing could ever reconcile him to the thought of seeing his master’s son enter the lists as a common soldier; and he was pretty certain that Arthur never could get into the army in any other way.

“I must try all in my power,” answered Arthur, “to remove this objection; and I give you my word that I will not disobey you in this point, provided you will promise not to prevent me from becoming a soldier, should I be so fortunate as to get a commission. It is, to be sure, not very easy to see how I can do this; but I will try, and I do not think it is more impossible for me to succeed than it was for George Dimock, who, we all know, had as little chance as I have, and yet, by industry and perseverance, he attained his wishes at last.”

In the morning, after Colonel and Mrs. Beaumont had been at the cottage, William observed, while the children were eating their porridge for breakfast, that, as he had promised that Arthur and the girls should go to the house of Glenlyn that evening, he hoped they would be busy through the day, and get through their ordinary tasks, in time to be there by five o’clock, as it might prevent the laird and his lady from taking their walk in the evening, if they were later. “You, Arthur, must tell Colonel Beaumont that, on consideration, I do not think I can spare you from home; and that, therefore, I hope he will not be offended with me for declining his kind offer of taking you into his family.”

Arthur answered quickly, “I quite understand, my dear father, what I must say; I mean to decline his offer civilly; but I must take care that there is no chance of his being offended with you, as it is entirely from my own choice that I refuse it; I am determined he shall know that it is so; otherwise he may serve you as Mr. M‘Farlane did poor John Nidry; he may turn you out of your nice cottage, for no reason but because 1 will not leave you, and does he wishes.”

“Nonsense, Arthur, do as I desire you. The laird cannot be so foolish as to be offended at my wishing to keep a boy of your age a little longer under my own eye.”

“And what good will it do, dear father, to let him believe that if I were older than I am now, you would agree to let me become his servant? You know very well, that if I were ten years older than I am, this can never happen; and, therefore, it is better to tell him so at once, that he may never give us any more uneasiness about it. Trust me this once, and* you shall see I will get out of the business so well, that you shall have no reason to find fault with me. We shall part good friends, I am sure, if you will only let me take my own way.”

William at that moment was called by one of his neighbours to join him in his morning’s work; he had, therefore, only time to say, “See that it is so, Arthur; for, recollect, I shall be much displeased if you are guilty of any imprudence at Glenlyn.”

The moment William was gone, Arthur called to the children to take their books, and after hearing all the four read, asked his mother if she wanted him any more that morning?

“No, my dear boy,” answered she; “but where are you going, Arthur? had you not better take your own book and read? for you will only tire yourself if you go out in the heat, and I should like you to look as well as you can when you go to speak to the laird in the evening.”

“Oh, I shall look well enough, mother. I have something to say to John Gibson, at the next village; but I shall take care to be home in time for dinner; or, at least, to go with my sisters; so, if I am not here by the time my father comes home, you may tell him where I am.” Jane rose from her wheel, followed him to the door, and looked after him.

“He will get, I doubt, far beyond our management,” thought she, “before many years pass over his head. ’Poor William will have a sore heart if he should turn out either disobedient or neglectful of us; but we have done our part for him, as yet, and we trust in Providence for the event. He has many good qualities, and has only one fault that I know of, and that is a proud spirit, though no one but myself has ever seen it; for, till now, William’s word has been his law.”

Jane was right, to a certain extent, in her opinion of Arthur; but though, from living constantly with him, she had observed the marked difference there was in his temper and conduct from any of the other children, she yet was ignorant of the secret which had for some time past been the motive of his almost every action. In one of his rambles through the hills in their immediate neighbourhood, he had accidentally observed an old man, who appeared busily engaged in picking up something at the bottom of a deep ravine which the rain had made between the mountains. Wondering what he could possibly be about, Arthur determined to go to him, and satisfy his curiosity. It was rather a dangerous undertaking from the place where he was: but young, and thoughtless of consequences, he resolved to make the attempt, and had got nearly two-thirds towards the spot at which he wished to arrive, when, unfortunately, he trod upon a loose stone, and, losing his balance, fell. He rolled to the bottom of the ravine without the slightest power of breaking the fall. He was quite stunned, and lay for some moments motionless. When he recovered his senses, he found himself lying upon a miserable little bed, and the same old man he had seen in the ravine sitting by him, rubbing his temples with water, while his hands trembled, both from age and alarm at the accident he had just witnessed. Arthur soon recovered, and then he honestly told the man what had induced him to put himself in so much danger.

“You did very wrong, my young friend,” said the old man, “to give way to such idle curiosity; but, if it serves for a warning to you against being so thoughtless again, it may, in the end, turn to your advantage. I have lived among these hills for nearly five years, and, till this day, have never seen a human being attempt to come down the rocks. Once every week I meet an old herd half way up the mountain, who always brings me the little provision I require; and, in return, I give him what pebbles I can pick up among the hills during my rambles, which he sells in Edinburgh, when he has collected as many as will repay him for his trouble in walking thither. I suppose he finds it answer his purpose, or he would not have continued to supply me for such a length of time; and, as I want but little, and have every reason to believe that he has kept my secret, we are very good friends, though we never exchange a word. It is of the utmost consequence that it should not be known to any one that I am yet alive; and, therefore, I feel that my safety is endangered by this rash attempt of yours to pry into my affairs, and really I scarcely know how to act, so as to secure my own safety. If I keep you with me, your parents will be alarmed; and in the search they will undoubtedly make for you, they may discover me; if I let you return to them, I run the risk of your betraying to them my hiding place, and I may be from it to end my life upon a scaf.

"Ah, no,” cried Arthur, "that shall never happen through me. Allow me to return home, and I give you my solemn promise, that nothing shall ever induce me to mention to any one my ever having seen you.”

The old man, after some hesitation, agreed to let him return home as soon as he thought he was sufficiently recovered to be able to climb the hill; and even showed him an easy way of getting out of the ravine, which was hid by the brushwood that grew at the mouth of it.

Arthur kept his word, and never mentioned to any one what he had that day discovered; but ne could not resist the inclination of returning to see his new acquaintance, whenever he had a spare moment to devote to him; and the old man, finding that the boy could be trusted, soon became reconciled to his visits, and in the course of them, amused him, from time to time, with the history of his own country, and all the events which had led to the late rebellion. These stories struck Arthur the more, from the imperfect recollection he had of his parents; for, though he never hinted, in the slightest degree, his suspicions, he had pretty nearly guessed the true cause of his father’s misfortunes. This made him return with increased interest to listen to the old man’s tales; so that at last the impression they made upon his mind, induced him to resolve to become a soldier. One day, when he had been conversing a long time with his friend, the old man said— “ Arthur, my dear boy, I feel that I am growing so fond of your society, that I know not what will become of me, if I should, by any means, be deprived of it; yet I do not think it is right to entice you to spend so much of your time here, if it is spent as un-profitably as it has yet been. I wish that I had the means of procuring a few books, for if I had them, I think I could, in some measure, repay you for the kindness you have shown towards a poor miserable old man, who h&s not a creature left in the world but yourself to care for him. I have a little money, sufficient to procure all that are necessary; but the difficulty is, how to get them purchased and conveyed here. I are not employ my old herd, for if he knew that I had any money, I am afraid my pebbles would not satisfy him as the price of my provisions. Do you*, think you could buy what I will write down for you, at Linton, if I give you the money ?”

"O yes,” answered Arthur, but instantly recollecting himself, added, “No, sir, I am afraid not; for if my father should hear that I have done so, and question me, I must either betray your secret, or offend him very much: and though I should like to learn anything you can teach me, yet not even the hope of learning Latin could induce me to do either.”

“You are a good and considerate boy, my dear, and I was very wrong in putting such a temptation in your way. I must try my herd by a promise of an additional number of stones, if he will get me what I want; but it is time for you to leave me; I shall be able to tell you how I have succeeded, the next time I see you.”

The. result was, that the herd procured an old French grammar, which Arthur began to study the very next visit he made to the mountain ; and he paid so much attention to the instructions of his old friend, that, at the time of his first introduction to Colonel Beaumont, a period of nearly six months after he had commenced learning, he could read pretty well a French New Testament that the old man possessed, and could also converse fluently in the French language. He carefully, however, concealed his acquirements for fear of being obliged by their disclosure to betray old Robert, as he now called his master; and he was even, if possible, more cautious in concealing his visits to the mountains, as their value became more understood, from the effects they produced in enlightening his mind.

It may be easily guessed, from the above narrative, whither he meant to bend his steps when he parted from Jane. He ran off in the opposite direction, in order to prevent her from knowing exactly where he was going; but, soon turning round, took a short cut across the fields, and in half an hour was at the old man’s side, relating to him all his difficulties with regard, to the laird’s offer, and his father’s wish of making him a minister, and soliciting his advice on the best methods of avoiding these proposals; as he declared he almost equally detested the thoughts of both.

Old Robert, much to Arthur’s disappointment, approved highly of William’s plan for his son, and endeavoured to convince the boy that it was a great mark of kindness in his father to be willing to incur such an expense as would be necessary for fitting him for the church, which could only be done by his living with the most scrupulous frugality for many years. Arthur allowed the justness of this remark, but said, that he could not, he was sure, feel happy, if he were not allowed to see more of the world than he could ever do as a clergyman; and that, if he could only contrive some method of making a little money, sufficient to support him till he had learnt Latin, which his old friend had promised to teach him as soon as he had made himself master of French, he felt quite certain that in a few years he should be able to convince his father, that his choice of being a soldier was a much better plan for him; particularly as brother Jamie had no objection to be a minister, and could take his place at Linton school. “I will not go there my self" continued he, “for I have no right to put my father to that expense, if I do not mean to follow his advice afterwards; and as I know' you can teach me as well as Mr. Cameron, it would not, I think, be right to be the means of preventing Jamie from having the advantage of the school.”

“There is some truth, Arthur, in this last remark,” said his kind old friend, “and I will agree, most willingly, to teach you Latin, both for your brother’s sake and your own, provided that, by doing so, I do not encourage you to resist your father’s wishes. But you must recollect that I am a very old man, and may not live long enough to be of much service to you: and that, if you refuse now to go to school, your father may be so offended with you, as never to put it in your power again; and then, in the event on my death, you will lose every prospect of acquiring either education or knowledge.”

“I will run the risk, sir, rather than promise to do what I am sure will make me quite miserable. But I must leave you now, as my father will be displeased if I am not at home at the hour of dinner. When I next see you, you must tell me what book I must have to begin Latin with, and I will then try to procure it, in some way or other, the first opportunity.”

“Very well, Arthur, but think well on what I have said, before you absolutely refuse your father’s offer.” Arthur nodded assent, and ran off to the village that he had told his mother he was going to; and while he is conversing with John Gibson, we shall return to his brothers and sisters, whom we left at home busily engaged in thinking on their intended visit to Glenlyn.


Return to Book Index Page