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The Scottish Orphans
By Mrs. Blackford (now Lady Stoddart) (1857) - Chapter 5


All went on well with our cottagers, till November, when the laird informed them that their new residence was ready for them, and offered to send a cart for their furniture the following day. Nothing could exceed Jane’s delight, when settled in her comfortable home. “We are now like ourselves again, William,” said she, on retiring for the night; “and even if my father were to see us, he would have no reason to blame me for having followed you.”

“He never, my dear Jane, would have blamed you, could he have known our reasons for leaving the country: it has been the hardest trial we have had, the parting from him in seeming displeasure; but I yet trust the time will come, when we may be at liberty to explain, to his satisfaction, the reason of our conduct; and you know, as well as I do, that he would have been the first to advise us to make any sacrifice, rather than desert our dear lady’s helpless orphans.”

“I know it, dear William; but yet it has been a sad distress to me to leave him as I did. If I could now only hear that he is well, I would try to be as happy as I ought to be, surrounded by so many blessings; but not to know whether my parents are dead or living, is, I must say, hard to bear, and often makes me very unhappy.”

“Well, Jane, I must try to give you this gratification if possible; but not even to please you, will 1 run any risk of betraying my master’s children. There is not much to be here at Christmas; and unless something, which I cannot foresee, happens to prevent me, I will go for a few days into your father’s neighbourhood, and see him, if possible, myself; but neither he, nor any one else, must recognize me.”

“Oh! William, how kind you are I” said Jane, leaning on his shoulder; “I am a very wicked woman ever to complain of anything while I have you; but you know what a father mine was, and therefore cannot wonder at my wishing to hear of him.”

“Not in the least, Jane; on the contrary, I have long wished to be able to spare a few days to go and try to see him; but till now, you know, I could not afford to lose so much time. Make yourself easy, therefore; I shall keep my word, and I hope to return with good news.”

Meantime, Arthur continued steady to his agreement with John Gibson; who, on meeting William one evening, told him that his son would be the best mason in the country soon, and offered to take him as an apprentice, for seven years, and pay him a shilling a week all the time.

“No, John,” answered William, “I cannot think of that. Arthur must be left to himself a little; he has taken it into his head that he will be nothing but a soldier; and till we can get that fancy out of him, he must be allowed to go on as he is doing. He will be useful to me, by and by, in the farm, and therefore, I have no mind to make him either a mason or a soldier.”

“It is a great pity, William, for he would be, with good instructions, a capital workman in a little time. However, I must try to keep him with me as long as I can; for he is a great help to me.”

William walked off extremely mortified at finding John and Arthur were likely to agree longer than he had either hoped or wished. Arthur had well laid his plans, and had so much reason to keep steadily to them, that he exerted himself to please John, to the utmost of his power; and his industry had been rewarded at the end of every week, by the regular payment of the promised sixpence, which were all carefully hoarded up, for the purchase of what books old Robert might require. His visits, likewise, to the mountains were continued, as often as he could, with safety, escape from observation; and when he thought it unsafe for his old friend to venture near him, he laboured unceasingly in making himself master of his prescribed tasks. The benefit he was receiving from his intercourse with this old man became every day greater and greater. His knowledge of Latin was the least of his advantages; his mind expanded, and even became refined; and both his manners and expressions so far exceeded those of other peasant boys, that -all the neighbours remarked how extraordinary it was, his working with John Gibson should have made him so like a gentleman.

William and Jane were likewise sensible of the change; but both knowing from what stock he really sprang, attributed it merely to his inheriting the nature of his parents, and, therefore, never suspected any other cause.

Jessie and Annie, meantime, continued to improve in all useful knowledge, under Mrs. Beaumont’s care, who very soon became so much attached to them, that it would have nearly cost her as much grief as it would have done themselves, to have separated them. William, however, resisted all her offers of taking Annie into her family, and even made a point that she should return, exactly at the dinner hour, to her mother every day. “I have no objection, dear madam,” said he, to Mrs. Beaumont, “to allow Annie to have the benefit of your instructions, in everything that is useful, and suited to a respectable farmer’s daughter; but beyond that I never will permit her to go. Jessie I have given up to you, to be your own child; but it would be asking too much of their mother to wish her to resign them both; and were Annie to be educated entirely in this house, she never could, with any pleasure, return to live in the plain manner her parents will always do; and thus she might learn both to dislike and despise those who gave her birth.” Mrs. Beaumont, in her heart, could not help seeing the good sense of William’s argument; add, therefore, never afterwards thought of pressing him to alter his resolution. During the many years that Annie regularly attended her in the morning, she confined her instructions entirely to what she thought was likely to render herself; and her worthy parents, more comfortable in the situation of life they were in, and in which they meant her to continue. Jessie, however, in that part of the day which she spent with her alone, was instructed in all the more finished accomplishments suitable to the adopted niece of the laird ; and, in a short time, had profited so much by the pains bestowed on her, as quite to astonish even her partial mistress, who often remarked to her husband, how very extraordinary it was, that William should have known so well which of the little girls was best suited for her purpose. Annie was as sweet-tempered and affectionate as Jessie, yet she had neither the talent nor taste for improvement that her sister had; though, in every other respect, she was equally amiable.

William kept his word to his wife, at Christmas, and left Lochmore, merely telling the laird that he had a little business a few miles off, which might detain him a week from home, and that, as the weather was such as to make it impossible for him to be employed out of doors, he thought that it was as well to seize the opportunity and go when he could be best spared.

No wonder was therefore excited by his absence; and,’ at the end of the week, he returned home to comfort his wife by the assurance that he had seen both her father and mother, who were living in perfect health, in the very house that had belonged to his poor master. “The Colonel does not like to live in the country, 1 was told, and he has employed your father and mother to keep the house, as being iihe only known adherents of the present king, upon the estate. The place, however, I really think, will soon fall to ruin, for the new proprietor grudges to spend a shilling upon the estate, and never takes any notice of what goes on, further than to press for his rents, and punish all who are in arrears.”

"And what has become of our little farm?” asked Jane.

"Your father has let it, and some stranger from the low country is in it; but I could not learn his name. Your brother is married, and now lives in what was your father’s house; and your sister Mary is still at home; I saw her sitting at the door, at her wheel, and your mother and father beside her. I never saw them look better in my life.”

"Thank God!” said Jane; "now I shall be more contented, since I know that all is well at home. But where did you lodge, William, when you were there?”

"Never you ask me, Jane; I cannot tell you any more news at present. I must go to Glenlyn and let the laird know I am come home, as well as see my dear little Jessie. Where is Arthur? for if he is near, I should like to take him with me, in my walk.”

Arthur, who was busily employed at his book in the next room, came out to his father directly, and they both left Jane, to proceed to Glenlyn. During their walk, Arthur related all that he had done with his brothers, in his father’s absence, and ventured to ask if he might begin to teach Allen and Jamie Ruddiman’s Latin Grammar.

“I doubt, my man, you will have quite enough to do to learn it yourself, without having the boys to teach. Remember, I shall ask Mr. Brown to decide between us, at the end of the year; if he thinks you are doing no good, I will not wait another day, but send you to Linton immediately.”

“Very well, father, I am content that you should ao so, provided, that if Mr. Brown thinks I have done as much as I would in the same time at school, you agree to let me educate myself in my own way. But, father, I really think if you mean Allen to be a clergyman, you had better send him to Linton this spring for as he is now turned ten years old, it is time that he had begun Latin; and Jamie, who is very nearly as old, is quite able to walk with him, when the fine weather begins.”

“I think, Arthur, that Jamie is not so anxious to learn Latin, as you are: and besides, it is not at all necessary for him to acquire it He will be a farmer like myself and as much information and knowledge as is required in that line, I am willing to bestow #on him; but I never will give him an education that may make him discontented with the rank of life it has pleased Providence to place him in.”

“I think you are wrong, dear father, if I may venture to say so. Jamie is a very clever boy, and would be an excellent scholar; but if you won’t allow him to go to school, will you let me teach him at home?”

“Not Latin, Arthur; I really will not do that; but I have no objection to your teaching him anything else you know. I am sure you will not teach him anything improper, nor, by* any remark, make him discontented with what I have decided on for him.”

“Never, father: I give you my word, if you trust me to read with, and instruct amie, one of the principal ends I will keep in view, shall be reconciling him entirely to the life of a farmer.”

“Well, well, Arthur,” said William, as he knocked at the door of Glenlyn house, “keep your word, and don’t think of putting any of your red coat notions into Jamie’s head, or I will never forgive you.”

“Never,” answered Arthur, as the door opened. “I would rather be a farmer, or even a servant, all my life, than act so dishonourable a part to my more than father.”

Little Jessie, who had observed them approaching, opened the door screaming with delight at seeing Arthur; he had never once approached Glenlyn, from the time of her being there, for fear the laird should again ask him to live with him. Jessie, however, now would hear of no excuse against his coming in. She had so much to shew him, and to talk to him about, that he was at length persuaded to be led up stairs to where Mrs. Beaumont was sitting.

On his entering the room, Mrs. Beaumont looked up, and for an instant, the same extraordinary feeling came across her mind, that she had felt on first seeing him sitting on the tree. “Arthur, my dear,” said she, "what has become of you? All the rest of your family have come to see Jessie; but though I have sent repeatedly for you, I have never once seen you, since she has been here.”

“My brothers, ma’am, have more time than I have; and as I have seen Jessie, when she came to the farm, I thought it best not to intrude at the only hour I am at leisure, which is between seven and eight o’clock.”

"How do you employ your time all the morning? I have not heard of your going to school.”

“No, ma’am,” answered Arthur, “I do not go to school; but I am engaged with John Gibson, in assisting him to build the village of Lynhead; and afterwards I am at my book the whole day.”

“Building with John Gibson, Arthur! What has put that into your head? I think you would have done much better if you had accepted the Colonel’s offer; but I believe that will not do now,” continued she, glancing at Jessie, “so we must think of something else for you, by and by.”

“Very true, ma’am, it certainly would not do either for Jessie or me. 1 can do very well at present, as I am; and when I am old enough to leave home, I hope I shall find some friend who will be willing to assist me.”

When Colonel Beaumont came into the room, he appeared excessively struck with the alteration a few months had made in Arthur; and on conversing with him, and hearing from his father the explanation of his working with John Gibson, he said, “Upon my word, William, this boy deserves to succeed. Not one in a thousand would either have had the ingenuity to lay such a plan, or the courage and perseverance to carry it through. But I doubt, Arthur, for all your industry, you will find Latin more difficult than you expect; and I shall not be surprised to hear, that before the year is expired, you will have laid it aside in despair.”

“I don’t think so,” answered Arthur, smiling, “I am not very apt to despair, and never gave up a thing I once began, merely from its being difficult in my life.”

Jessie, who was impatient to shew her brother all her treasures, now drew him away into another room, and for a few minutes Colonel Beaumont sat without speaking. At last he said, “It is very odd, but Arthur, in face and manner, so strongly resembles some one I have been intimate with, that I could fancy him an old acquaintance. I cannot think who it is; but really the likeness is surprising!”

“There is no accounting for likenesses,” answered William, quickly. “All my children are different; some very dark like myself; and others fair, as Jessie is, like her mother.”

“I don’t think Jessie like your wife,” said Mrs. Beaumont; “she is much handsomer than ever Jane could have been.”

“Years make a great difference, ma’am; particularly when accompanied with sorrow, and of that we have had our share; but in my opinion, when I first knew Jane, she was as handsome as ever Jessie will be.”

“It is not surprising, at least, that you should think so,” said the Colonel; “let us retire into my study, and attend to our business, and then we can return and settle all about Jessie’s beauty, when that is finished.” Before William took leave, Jessie brought him a shirt of her own making, which she presented to him by her aunt’s desire, to let im see that she was taught what was useful, as well as ornamental.

William was excessively pleased with this attention, and asked Mrs. Beaumont if she would allow Jessie to spend the next day at the farm. “It is her mother’s birthday, ma’am. Jane is very anxious to have all her children with her, and, therefore, if you would be so good, we should take it as a kindness.” No objection was made to this proposal, and her father promised to bring her nome in the evening, if Mrs. Beaumont would send one of the servants up with her, in the morning. William and Jane, in fact, had made this excuse for having her home, in order to judge better the principles and care, on religious subjects, that had been bestowed on her; but on this subject they had no reason for fear. Both Colonel and Mrs. Beaumont were as deeply impressed with the importance of training her up in the knowledge and practice of religious and moral habits, as they were themselves; and when her father returned with her to Glenlyn, he frankly owned what had been his motives for having her home, and the perfect satisfaction he now felt, in having placed her in their hands.

The summer passed in happiness and comfort with all our young friends. Allen went daily to the school at Linton, and Jamie became Arthur’s scholar, who bestowed a  great deal of pains upon him; instructing im in arithmetic and geography, and improving him in his reading and writing. Early in August, Colonel Beaumont had the misfortune to fall from his horse. He was not materially injured, but owing to some of the small bones of his leg being displaced, it was likely he would be confined to his sofa for some months. Time hung very heavy on his hands, as the winter season advanced; and by way of amusing himself, he sat about arranging some old manuscript papers of his father’s. One day that Mr. Brown called to see him, he said—

“I wish, Brown, you would recommend me some one who could assist me in this business. The more I look at these papers, the more I think it is a pity not to give them to the public. They were written by my poor father while he was in India. If I could only get them arranged according to their dates, it is all I should want. I find writing a great fatigue in the position in which I am obliged to lie; but if I could have some one who would write from my dictation, I could get on very well, and find a great deal of amusement from the employment.”

"I cannot recommend a fitter person for your purpose than Jessie’s brother, Arthur. He really is a most surprising boy. You know it was to be referred to me, whether he had made sufficient progress by himself in his Latin, during the last year, to be allowed to continue to educate himself; and if not, he was to be sent to school. His examination passed yesterday, and I do not hesitate to say, that he has got on much better than he could have done at Linton school, or even at the High School of Edinburgh, in the same time. I have advised his father by no means to interfere with him, but to allow him to go on as he is doing; and I have no doubt that in a very few years he will be an excellent scholar. His engagement with John Gibson is merely an expedient for supplying himself with books, and is by no means one suited to such a boy; i£ therefore, you would engage to pay him weekly, I have no doubt he would willingly devote his mornings to you, instead of working with John at Lynhead.”

"If you really think him capable of doing what I want, Brown, I should prefer Arthur about me to a stranger.”

“1 am pretty sure he is perfectly qualified for doing your business, if it is only what you have mentioned.”

“Then I will send for him directly, and once more try if I can persuade him to serve me; perhaps he may not have the same objection to act as an amanuensis, that he decidedly shewed to become a servant.”

As soon as Mr. Brown went away, the Colonel wrote a note to William, desiring him to send Arthur down to him in the evening. A little after seven o’clock Arthur arrived, a good deal agitated from the fear of what the Colonel might want with him. He listened to the proposal attentively, and then answered, that he would willingly attend him at the hours he at present spent with John Gibson, to write for him; but that he could not possibly infringe upon those devoted to his studies.

“Very well, Arthur, a few hours in the morning will answer all my purpose, and you will find me at least as good a paymaster as John Gibson.”

From this day, Arthur became the laird’s constant morning companion. The manuscripts were written and printed; but still the Colonel found some employment which served as an excuse for having him continually at Glenlyn. For some months, he was merely in the room with himself, but gradually he brought him, for one reason or another, into the drawing-room, and at last was never easy when he did not dine with him. Arthur’s conduct, during the whole of his advancement, was uniformly marked with the greatest propriety. Always modest and respectful, he yet, when encouraged, entered into conversation with both Colonel and Mrs. Beaumont; who almost insensibly became so attached to him, that they quite considered him as a member of their family.

Things went on in this manner for nearly three years. Allen had attained his thirteenth birthday, and was a very promising lad, though much inferior in point of ability to Arthur. He quite entered into the wishes of his father, for his being a clergyman, and devoted his whole mind to his book, which greatly pleased both William and Jane, who often talked to Arthur on the folly of his continuing to object to so rational a plan.

Jamie’s improvements were likewise very obvious. True to his word, Arthur had taken care, while he endeavoured to give him useful information upon subjects he thought fitted for him, never to encroach beyond the limits laid down by his father; and Jamie thought, through tne management of his indefatigable instructor, that the business of a farmer was equally desirable with that of either a soldier or a clergyman; nor did it ever enter into his head to make the slightest opposition to his father’s pleasure.

One morning, when Arthur, as usual, went to Glenlyn he found the Colonel in his study, waiting anxiously for him. “Arthur,” exclaimed he, as he entered, “come in, and shut the door. I have something of great consequence to mention to you. You know the manuscript that I published two years ago, written by my father, on the affairs of India. It has attracted, at last, the attention of government, and I have received, this morning, an offer of promotion to the rank of general, and likewise of being sent out to take a command. I cannot hesitate on the answer I must give to such a proposal; but my difficulty will lie in reconciling my wife to our separation; for nothing could induce me to allow her to share my danger. She has been in very delicate health for some months past; and I really dread the effect this information may have on her.”

Arthur, whilst the Colonel was relating this, felt his heart throb so violently, that he could scarcely command himself sufficiently to hear the conclusion of his speech. Contrary, however, to his hopes, the Colonel made no mention of his intention of taking him with him. He was of too proud a spirit to ask what he knew the Colonel must perfectly well understand to be his wish; and, therefore, making a great exertion over himself,. he spoke as easily as he could, on the best manner of informing Mrs. Beaumont of what was likely to give her so much distress.

“I shall depend much, Arthur, on the friendship of you, and your family, towards my dear wife, whilst I am at a distance from her. My stay, if I live so long, will not exceed five years; and by the time I return, I hope I shall find you all comfortably settled in the situations your worthy father has so much at heart. You and Allen may both, perhaps, be absent in future at the University, for six months in the year; but your sisters and Jamie must try, while she is left alone here, to cheer her winter evenings, when the weather may prevent him from having the society of other neighbours.” Arthur felt almost indignant; yet he commanded himself sufficiently to say, “that no attention which any of his family could pay to Mrs. Beaumont, at any time, should ever be neglected.

The Colonel, occupied with his own thoughts, did not take notice of Arthur’s agitation or change of manner. He gave him some letters to copy, and then said he should not want him any more till the next morning, when he hoped he would come as early to him as possible, as he had a great deal to arrange in his own affairs, and likewise to settle something relative to his father and himself, which must be done before he quitted Scotland.

The moment Arthur had finished his task, he left Glenlyn, and flew to his friend in the mountains. During the intercourse which had subsisted between them, the situation of the latter had been greatly meliorated. Arthur’s connection with John Gibson had enabled him to build up the old man’s little hut, and as he grew older, and was more accustomed to go unobserved to Linton, for books, pens, &c., he had managed to procure him many little articles, that contributed greatly both to his amusement and comfort. It was no wonder, therefore, that old Robert almost idolized the boy, who had proved himself so worthy of his confidence, and so great a comforter in his solitary banishment Excessively proud of his pupil’s evident improvement, he constantly made him repeat everything that happened to him from day to day; this, Arthur very naturally imagined, was merely to gain a little information and amusement from what was passing in the world: but the old man had a very different motive for his inquiries: though, till this time, Arthur had not the slightest suspicion of it He had always appeared particularly pleased when Arthur had told him he had been at Glenlyn. The adoption of Jessie had drawn tears from his eyes; and his joy appeared complete, when told that the Colonel had engaged Arthur as an amanuensis.

“It is of all things, my dear boy, exactly what I could have wished. Colonel Beaumont has seen too much of the world, and is too good a scholar, not to appreciate your merit and acquirements as they deserve, and I think he is likewise too generous and liberal in his ideas to wish to keep you long as a dependent; but as soon as you are old enough, I have no doubt he will exert his influence to place you in the situation you have so greatly at heart, and in which I am convinced you will do both him, and your old friend here in the mountains, so much credit”

Full of these hopes, Arthur had continued his attendance at Glenlyn most unremittingly, and, from the increasing attention, and even familiarity, of both Colonel and Mrs. Beaumont, had thought that he saw the realizing of all old Robert’s predictions. This morning had, however, completely dispelled the flattering illusion; and he arrived at his friend’s little cot, in so great a ferment of spirits, as quite to alarm the old man.

“What has happened, my child?” exclaimed he, the moment he saw him. “Something dreadful must have occurred, to agitate my dear boy in this manner. Are your parents ill, or either of your brothers or sisters?” Arthur shook his head, but was still unable to speak.

The old man started. "Is anything the matter at Glenlyn?” whispered he, turning very pale. “O! my child, tell me at once, and do not keep me in-suspense.”

“No, sir, there is nothing the matter, either at home or at Glenlyn; all goes on well with every one but myself.”

"Cheer up, then, Arthur; I dare say there is nothing very bad the matter with you. Nothing but what a little patience and perseverance will, in a little time, overcome.

Arthur then related what had passed between the Colonel and himself that morning; and finished by declaring, that if his hopes failed with the Colonel, he knew not what plan he could next pursue.

“So, Colonel Beaumont is going abroad,” answered Robert. “I did certainly never expect to have lived to see that happen. I think, Arthur, you must have mistaken his meaning. Compose yourself for the present, and go to him to-morrow morning, looking as cheerful and happy as he is accustomed to see you: and believe me, he will give you very different news from what you have received to-day. But do you think you could manage, either by getting your father or Mr. Brown to call on him this evening, to induce him to take a walk?”

“I dare say my father will call on him, sir, if I tell him of his intention to go abroad; for he will naturally wish to have everything relative to Lochmore settled before he quits the country.”

“That, will do very well. And now, Arthur, I must send you away, as I wish to be left alone for this evening. If you accompany the Colonel, I shall have much to say to you, and therefore you had best go home now, that your absence may be the less observed when I most require you.”

Arthur took leave, as he was desired; but he had no longer any faith in the old man’s predictions and he returned to Lochmore, dispirited and miserable.

He related to William the laird’s intention of quitting the country, which fully accounted to him for his sons state of spirits; but though he felt some regret that the Colonel had not thought highly enough of his boy to take him with him, he yet flattered himself that, in all probability, his not doing so would be the means of reconciling Arthur to his own plan of making him a clergyman, which he infinitely preferred, from its keeping him in the country, to protect his brother and sister.

He took no notice, however, of Arthur’s melancholy looks, at that moment; and only said that ne would go and call at Glenlyn in the evening, and hear how the poor lady bore such heavy news.

William set out on his visit as soon as his work was over, and Arthur endeavoured to drive from his thoughts his own disappointment by reading with his brothers. His intercourse with the family at Glenlyn had been productive of one great service, equally useful and amusing to his brothers and himself Mrs. Beaumont having kindly offered him the loan of whatever books he wished, that her library contained, and even assisted him with her advice in choosing them.

William found the laird sauntering in the glen, who welcomed him most cordially, saying, he had wished to see him that night, but Mrs. Beaumont had been so ill that he could not leave her long enough to go to Lochmore. “Let us walk into the farm-yard,” continued he, “for I would rather have our conversation together, before we join her in the drawing-room.”

William, of course, turned into the gate of the farm-yard, just as Jessie was coming out from feeding her chickens. William kissed her, and her uncle told her to go home and try to amuse her aunt till her father and himself came in.

She ran towards the house, but, on turning up the path that led out of the glen, she saw an old beggar meeting her.

“Will the young lady help a poor creature this evening, who has walked a great way, and is yet far from home?”

“Willingly, poor man,” answered Jessie; “if you will return with me to the house, I will get you something to eat and drink directly”

“No, miss, that will not do, for I am late; but, if you would only buy this little bag of pebbles of me, I could easily get refreshment at the Carlin’s Loup. I have no money, and poor folks care little about these kind of things, though I know very well the lady of the house would think a great deal of them; for they are exceedingly fine of their kind.”

Jessie felt in her pocket: “I have only sixpence to give you; but that will, perhaps, get you a night’s lodging, and, if you call at John Finlay’s, at Carlin’s Loup, and tell him that Jessie Mathieson sent you, I am sure he will give you some bread and cheese and a tankard of beer. I will pay him for it, the first money I get, and that will be next week.”

The beggar took the sixpence, and, kissing it, put it into his bosom, saying, that he hoped a blessing would descend on her and hers, for shewing so much compassion to the wants of a stranger. He held out the bag with the stones, for her to take; but Jessie put it from her, saying, she would not take it; he might sell it to some one else, who could afford to pay him better for it

“Nay, miss, you must not affront even a poor old man like me, by refusing the only return I can make to your kindness. Take the bag, and give it to the lady, who will bless you, and love you a thousand times better than she ever did before, when she hears how well you remember the precepts and example she has given you, in always being ready and willing to assist the poor and helpless.”

The beggar, as he said this, put the bag again into Jessie’s hand, and, before she had time to answer him, he hobbled past her, and was out of sight in a minute. She ran forward directly to the house, and flying up stairs to her aunt, told her the adventure she had met with, and gave her the bag. It was fastened with a piece of string, which was tied so firmly that Mrs. Beaumont could not loose it. She therefore sent Jessie for a pair of scissors, to cut it. She was scarcely gone, however, when she found her penknife, and, cutting the string, emptied the bag into her lap. It contained some very fine pebbles; but a sealed note at the bottom attracted the whole of her attention. She hastily caught it up, and, on looking at the seal, was seized with such a fit of trembling that it was with the greatest difficulty she kept herself from fainting. Hearing Jessie coming singing along the passage, she secreted the note before she appeared, and, holding out the bag and the stones, said, “Here, child, they are very beautiful; take care of them, and to-morrow we will put them into your collection of curiosities.”

She instantly quitted the room, and, retiring to her own chamber, double locked the door before she ventured to draw the mysterious note from its place of concealment. When her husband and William returned from their walk she was still absent; but, on Jessie tapping at her door, she opened it, and, snatching her to her breast, kissed her repeatedly, saying, she loved her more than ever.

Jessie smiled, and answered, that the beggar had told her that her aunt would love her more than ever, and he had spoke true.

"Hush, Jessie, love, don’t mention the beggar, for you know your uncle would be very angry, if he knew that he had come through the glen; he never allows any one to go that way, but those who belong t6 the house.”

“Oh, I won’t tell, then. The poor old man was a stranger, and, I dare say, knew no better.”

“Most likely, my dear; but it is best to say nothing of your having seen him to any one.”

She then took the hand of Jessie, and entered the drawing-room. Her eyes were red with weeping; but, as they knew the cause she had for sorrow, it was not remarked. William remained but a short time after she came into the room. On taking leave, he promised to return to Glenlyn the following night, to receive some directions relative to the management of the farm during the Coloners absence.

Next morning, Arthur prepared to obey the laird’s directions, by going early to Glenlyn. He had spent a restless night, and his mother, as he left the cottage, asked him, “If he was well, that he looked so pale.”

“O yes, mother, quite well; though, I believe, I have got a little headache from not sleeping very well; the air will cure it, no doubt, and I must make haste, as the laird will be waiting for me.”

“Walk slow, Arthur, and don’t overheat yourself, for I cannot think that is only a headache that makes you look as you do.

“Wait for me, dear Arthur,” cried Annie, from the other room; “Jessie desired me to come this morning very early, as Mrs. Beaumont has some thoughts of going into Edinburgh to-morrow, and she wishes us to have a long lesson to-day, to make up for it”

“I cannot wait, Annie,” answered Arthur, “for I am rather too late already.”

Annie, however, was sooner ready than he expected, and overtook him before he entered the glen.

“Something has vexed you, Arthur, I doubt,” said she, as she came up to him. “It is not like you, to refuse to wait a minute to oblige me. I wanted very much to speak to you, for you have more sense than any of the rest, and will, perhaps, be able to advise me how I should lay out the money that I have got from Mrs. Beaumont. Every Saturday she has always given me a sixpence, and Jessie a shilling, to spend in any way we like. Jessie, I believe, has bought a new gown for my mother, and I should like to give her something too, and have-our presents ready on her birthday; but I cannot think of anything she would like. Can you, Arthur, help me?”

“Yes, Annie, I think I can. I heard your mother, only yesterday, wishing earnestly for a new Bible. Her own is of so small a type that She cannot now see tp read it”

“That is the very thing, if you think that twenty sixpences will be enough to buy a good one, and will purchase it for me the first day you go to Linton; for I think you will judge better of it than either Jamie or Allen could do.”

“I will, willingly, my dear Annie, do that, or anything else for you, if you wish it; but there is the laird coming to meet us, so you had best leave me now, and I will take care not to forget to execute your little commission.”

Colonel Beaumont held out his hand to Arthur as he advanced towards him, and, clasping his within it, said, “I have a proposal to make to you, my young friend, on your acceptance of which, I find, the comfort and satisfaction with which I can leave home must depend. It is, that you accompany me to India. My wife has made it the only condition on which she will consent to our separation. Will you, Arthur, agree to go abroad with me? and do you think your father will consent to the measure?”

"My own consent, Colonel,” replied Arthur, “must entirely depend on the situation and rank I am to be placed in.”

The Colonel smiled. “Oh, Arthur, you need not fear now, that I have any thought of offering you the situation of a servant. Even if I could have had such an intention myself, my wife has taken care to put it out of my power, as she has bargained not only for your having a commission, but has likewise stipulated that you shall go out as my aid-de-camp, in order that you may remain Constantly beside me.”

Arthur felt, at this unexpected fulfilment of all his most sanguine hopes, too much oppressed with gratitude and surprise, to be able for some minutes to utter a syllable. He leant against the railing of the farmyard, near which he stood, and drew his hat over his brows. The Colonel allowed him to recover himself, and walked away to a little distance. When he thought he had had time to be composed, he turned round to join him, when he perceived Arthur upon his knees, as if in prayer. A moment afterwards, he saw him spring to his feet and advance, his eyes sparkling, and his whole countenance glowing with animation and delight.

“Colonel Beaumont,” exclaimed he, as he approached, “you have, by your liberal and generous proposal, made me the happiest of human beings. Ever, whilst I live, rest assured, that no attention or exertion on my part shall be wanting, to prove to you how deeply I feel all I owe you; as well on my own account as for the marked kindness which you have uniformly shewn to my whole family. If I live, I trust that, even humble as I am, I may be able to convince you, that the boy, whose mind you have had such a share in forming, will, in his intercourse with the world, neither disgrace your patronage, nor give you cause, in any way, to repent the interest he has created in the feeling mind of Mrs. Beaumont. My father will make no objections to my accompanying you to India. He certainly would prefer my remaining near him, and adopting his plan of going into the church; but as Allen has agreed to gratify his will in that, and as he will, by doing so, be always near to protect Jessie, my father will not now object to my following what he has long known to be the only line I can ever enter into with energy.” “Allen protect Jessie! What do you mean, Arthur? I hope she will require no other protection than what my wife can give her, until our return; but even if she did, your father and Jamie, I think, are likely to be as good protectors to her as poor Allen, who cannot expect to have much in his power for many years yet.”

“Oh,” answered Arthur, (completely recalled to recollection by this remark,) “I only meant what I know my father bears very much in his mind, that from Jessie’s education, it will only be Allen and myself who can be fit for her to reside with, in case of any misfortune happening to Mrs. Beaumont. He. fancies that she could never return to live in a farm-house, with any degree of propriety, and has uniformly held out to Allen and myself, that, from our education, and other advantages, we must consider it an incumbent duty on us to protect and comfort our sister, since she has, from her education, been rendered unfit for returning into her former mode of life, and since she must look to us, alone, for placing her in tnat situation which she will be qualified to fill.”

“Your father, Arthur, is, without exception, the most sensible man I ever met with: I need not say in his rank of life, for very few in any rank have so clear and just notions on almost every subject on which he is called to think or act. We must go in and see Mrs. Beaumont, and then I wish you to return home and tell him what I have proposed to you; for till he has sanctioned the measure, neither of us ought to take any steps in forwarding it. If he approves of it, I shall write this very evening to secure a commission: and when that is obtained, I shall appoint you, formally, my aid-de-camp.”

They walked in silence towards the house, and, at the door, were met by Jessie, who, catching her brother’s hand, said, “You must come up, Arthur, to my aunt directly; she wishes to see you quite alone for a few minutes.”

The Colonel smiled, as he said, "Go away, Arthur, and receive all your instructions for keeping my nightcap and flannels in proper order. I really believe, my poor Mary fancies that my life depends on having all such matters under the care of an aid-de-camp of her own choosing, and will feel a thousand times happier by knowing that you are with me, who have so long almost lived with her, than if I had the care of twenty strangers, who have never had the benefit of her instructions.”

Arthur ran up stairs with Jessie, who, opening her aunt’s dressing-room, desired him to go in. Mrs. Beaumont was sitting at the table, leaning her head upon her hand. She pointed to a chair, close beside her, and desired Arthur to be seated. He instantly obeyed her, and began to thank her for having influenced the Colonel in giving him his appointment.

“Hush, Arthur, we must speak of something else at present, before we are interrupted. Tell me, my dear young friend, how and when you became acquainted with Sir Alexander M‘Donald?”

“I know nothing of any one of that name,” answered Arthur, directly; “I never even heard it before.”

“Arthur,” cried Mrs. Beaumont, “I won’t be deceived. You must tell me where he is. I will kneel to you, if you only put it into my power to see him once again.”

“Indeed, my dear madam, I cannot give you the information you require. I give you my solemn word I know no such person.”

“It is impossible!” exclaimed she, wringing her hands; “you must be deceiving me; but here, tell me, quickly, if you never saw that handwriting, nor this seal.”

Arthur took the note she held out to him, and, on the first glance, recognised both the seal and writing of old Robert. He pretended to turn to the window, to examine it more minutely, though, in reality, to gain time to consider what answer to give to so embarrassing a question. It was again repeated, when fortunately the Colonel’s step was heard, coming towards the dressing-room. Mrs. Beaumont, in the greatest trepidation, snatched the note from Arthur’s hand, and hiding it in her bosom, said, “Another time, I must insist on a direct answer to my question, as the only proof I will ever receive from you of your gratitude for what I have done, either for you or your sisters. Silence, however, on the subject is necessary at present; and beware how you ever drop a hint of what has passed, before the Colonel.


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