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Arthur Monteith
By Mrs. Blackford (now Lady Stoddart) (1857) - Chapter 2

During her mother’s illness, Annie had had a long continued time of fatigue and anxiety; and, though shared as much as possible by Jessie, vet still it materially affected her health, and increased the uneasiness which Mrs. Beaumont had for some time felt on that account. She had walked down one morning to Glenlyn, merely to get a little air, while Jessie sat with her mother. When she entered Mrs. Beaumont’s room, she looked so pale and exhausted, that her kind friend could not help asking her if she felt ill, or had any particular complaint

“No, dear madam, I have no regular complaint, though to you I have wished to mention what is the conviction of mv own mind —I firmly believe that I am not long for this world. A feeling of weakness and inward sinking has been for some months growing upon me; yet I have no formed illness; and so far as I can recollect, from having seen so much of Janet Finlay, I am exactly in the same sort of decline that at last carried her off. The fear of alarming my dear mother, in her present weak state, has prevented me from mentioning to any one my own opinion, but I feel it must be done soon, or the truth may break upon the minds of my parents and sister so suddenly, as to endanger their precious lives. You see, dear Mrs. Beaumont,” continued she, faintly smiling, “what a conceited girl I am, notwithstanding all your care and instruction; but our family are so knit in the bonds of true affection, that a separation between us will, if not cautiously communicated, go hard with us all. My own mind, thanks to those who have trained me in the paths of righteousness, is, in some degree, prepared for whatever is the will of my Heavenly Father. Yet, the thought of the distress which my death will occasion in the family, almost distracts my mind from the serious reflection which every sinful creature ought to bestow on the near prospect of so great a change. I have, therefore, ventured to come at last to you, and to solicit that you would break the matter to my father and dear Jessie. They love me too well to make me a witness of their first sufferings ; and, after a few hours’ reflection, I hope we may meet, and part no more, till the hour that I am called into the presence of my Maker.”

Mrs. Beaumont at first listened with composure to Annie’s history of her feelings; but, as it went on, she burst into an agony of tears, and could scarcely command herself sufficiently to answer her. Annie seemed prepared for this; she did not shed a tear, though her lips trembled a little as she said, “Dear, dear madam, spare me, if possible; I have much to go through, and if I do not school my feelings to some degree of subjection, they will hasten on the event before my parents are prepared to bear it.”

Completely recalled to self-possession by this mild appeal, Mrs. Beaumont instantly dried up her tears; and then endeavoured, by examining the dear girl as to the symptoms of her malady, to understand fully the degree of danger she was really in. All she told her, tended to alarm her; but she insisted on applying instantly for medical advice. “I must see your father, Annie, this very evening; and I think, with his help, I can manage to take you to Edinburgh, without exciting any suspicion in your mother’s mind; it would be very wrong to alarm her in her present weak state, at least till we have ascertained the extent of the threatened danger.”

“I thank you sincerely, my dear madam, for this consideration of my poor mother’s feelings. If you and my father wish me to go to Edinburgh for advice, I shall make no opposition to the plan. Life has many charms to one so blest with friends and relatives as I am; and, therefore, to refuse compliance .with any means pointed out by them, as likely to re-establish my health, would be both foolish and wicked. Yet I own, I have no hope myself, that any thing can now save me; and though I will comply with whatever is advised, I shall keep steadily in view the termination which I believe to be inevitable.”

After a good deal of conversation, Mrs. Beaumont said, that till they had had medical advice, none of her family should be informed of her illness, except her father. “It would be only harassing the minds of your brothers and Jessie to make them acquainted with the object of our journey, till we know the result. I shall tell them that I have business which may detain me a week or ten days; and that, as you have never seen Edinburgh, I prefer having you with me, and leaving Jessie (who has been there often) to take care of your mother.”

This being settled, Mrs. Beaumont proposed walking home with her. Annie agreed, and they set out; but had only gone a very short way, when they were forced to stop, to allow the poor girl to rest, as the least exertion almost deprived her of breath. With much difficulty, Mrs. Beaumont contrived at last to get her Home, where Jessie had been busily engaged at her work on a little stool, by the side of her mother, singing at the same time the beautiful airs of her native country. She had just finished “Lewie Gordon,” when, looking up, she observed her mother drowned in tears.

“What is the matter, dear mother?” exclaimed she; “has my foolish music made you cry?”

“It has indeed, dear girl,” answered Jane, looking earnestly at her: “for, oh! how forcibly has it brought to my recollection the last time I heard my own dear lady sing that very song!”

“And who was your own lady?” asked Jessie. “I have often heard you express your attachment to some lady, but I do not remember ever hearing you mention her name.”

“Hush, Jessie, ask me no questions,” said June, in a whisper; “I have done wrong in even mentioning that I ever had a lady. William would never forgive me, if he knew that I had been so imprudent; but you are scarcely less dear to me than she was. God forbid that you should ever be the cause of so much care and grief as she, poor soul I was the innocent means of bringing on her servant!”

At that moment, Mrs. Beaumont and Annie entered the house, and put an end to a conversation which Jane, for many weeks, regretted she had ever been led into; but finding that Jessie never recurred to it, she gradually began to hope, that she had forgotten all that had then passed. This was, however, very far from being the case; but though the circumstances mentioned so mysteriously, had greatly excited Jessie’s curiosity, her sense of rectitude and honour made her repress all inquiries upon the subject, as she thought it would be unpardonable in her to press her mother to disclose what she distinctly told her would offend her father.

Annie, in order to avoid the observation of her mother, retired into the next room, and reclined upon her bed; while Mrs. Beaumont sat chatting with Jane, to give her daughter time to recover from the effects of the exertion she had gone through. When Mrs. Beaumont rose to go, she left a message with Jane for William, desiring to see him that evening. She then begged that Jessie would get her bonnet, and come away at once, as she had some idea of going to Edinburgh the next day, and had several things to arrange at home, in yrhich she should want her assistance. As they walked on their way home, she said, “Jessie, my dear, Annie has been greatly fatigued during your mother’s illness; I think, if I can persuade your father to allow her to go with me to-morrow, a little change will be of service to her, and her affectionate attention, during so long a period of illness, deserves some reward. You will, I am sure, not object to take her place at the cottage for the few days she will be away.”

“Certainly not, dear aunt. On the contrary, it will give me the greatest possible pleasure to have her enjoy a, little relaxation from the fatigue she even yet has with my mother; but I fear that you will find it more difficult than you imagine to prevail with my father to allow her to accompany you, or to permit me to remain in the cottage. I have urged every thing I could think of to induce him to permit me to stay and share Annie’s nightly fatigue; for, to own the truth, I have, for some weeks, been quite sensible that it was too much for her health; but nothing I have been able to say, would make him listen a moment to the proposal; though, I believe, since I have spoken to him, he has taken the whole care of my mother, during the night, upon himself, in the fear that it was injuring Annie’s health.” “I think, nevertheless, that I shall prevail,” replied her aunt u Your father cannot be so unreasonable as to refuse my request, whatever he may do as to yours. But there is Mr. Brown; I should not be much surprised, if he had been to Linton, and had Drought our letters from the post; as he knew that he would be here an nour sooner than little Tom.”

Mrs. Beaumont was right. Mr. Brown was the bearer of a large despatch from India. After pressing him to dine with her, she left him, m order to examine her husband’s letter; and was soon followed by Jessie, eager to hear of her ever-loved Arthur. Having given her a packet from him, Mrs. Beaumont shut herself in her dressing-room, and proceeded to read her own. After relating all the various occurrences that he thought were likely to interest her, the General continued, u Arthur is still the comfort and solace of my present banishment. No son could more completely devote himself to my service than he does; and he really often makes me proud to be connected with him. His conduct was so exemplary during our late campaign, that I have reported it to government; and if the praise of his commander, and the testimony of all his brother officers, have any weight, he is likely to be a very rising man. What particularly drew forth his strong recommendation, was the following circumstance:—

“The evening before the last engagement, one of the scouts that I had sent to reconnoitre the enemies’ position, returned hastily, and told me that there was a small post lately fortified, which if not taken, would effectually prevent our advancing in sufficient strength to attack the town. It was of the utmost importance, I immediately saw, either to get possession of this post before the hour when the soldiers were to begin to move, or, at least, to conceal from them the difficulty they were likely to encounter.

“The only troops I could spare, were those under the command of Colin Monteith; and although I had no great opinion either of his courage or of his judgment, I had no alternative but to send him forward, with directions to storm the post, and get possession of it at all hazards. I therefore sent for him to give him his instructions. It was some time before he came to me. When he arrived, it was nearly dusk, and I had laid down, overcome with the heat and fatigue of the day, on the couch in my tent; I raised myself on my elbow, and inquired what had occasioned his delay in answering my summons. He stammered something about being asleep, much as he used to do when reprimanded for any fault. I then proceeded to state why I had sent for him, and told him fairly that I was afraid it was rather a dangerous duty, but that I hoped he would, both for his honour, and the preservation of his own life, act with prudence and circumspection; and if he had the good fortune to succeed in taking the post, he might depend on my using my interest for his immediate promotion.

“He made no answer, but by a bow, as in token of obedience; but before quitting the tent, he sprang forward, and kneeling before my couch, kissed my hand, while he placed his hat over his eyes, to prevent, as I thought, my seeing the tears which I felt moistened his cheek. Much affected, I spoke kindly to him, hoping that the next time we met he would have raised his name as a soldier, and increased the desire I had ever felt to serve him.

“I saw him no more, as he instantly departed, covering his face with his handkerchief. The next morning, on inquiring for Arthur, his servant said that he had left his tent, and was with the troops, who were now in motion. During the battle I was surprised that I never saw him; and my astonishment was greatly heightened by perceiving Colin Monteith m Arthur’s cap and uniform, endeavoring to escape from the sword of a native soldier. I made at the black fellow, and having succeeded in rescuing Monteith, I loudly inquired how he came to be there, instead of being with his detachment where I had sent him r He hesitated and stammered so much that I could make nothing of him; but as I was convinced that he had by some means evaded the dangerous enterprise, I ordered him iDto the rear, till I should be at leisure to examine into the business. We were fast approaching upon the town, and whatever had been the fate of the fortified post, it was now too late to attempt to retreat. With fear and apprehension, I continued to advance, expecting every moment that a fire would be opened on our flank from this post, which I now perceived completely commanded the principal gate that we had to force; but, to my great relief as soon as we drew near it, the English colors were hoisted, and a volley was fired over the gate into the town. This had the happiest effect, as it intimidated the besieged, and gave our troops, who were nearly exhausted with fatigue, fresh spirits. The result was soon visible. The enemy fled in all directions, leaving their walls almost deserted, and before evening we found ourselves in quiet possession of the town, with much less bloodshed than we had dared to anticipate.

“As soon as the immediate hurry and confusion had in some degree abated, I became seriously alarmed at seeing nothing of Arthur, and began to make inquiries regarding him among the officers of his regiment All looked confused, as if unwilling to speak, when at last one of them stepped forward, and said, that all they knew of Major Mathieson was, that the evening before, whilst they were sitting together in the tent where they had dined, a message was sent from me to Captain Monteith, desiring to see him directly. We were greatly alarmed (continued the narrator) on hearing this message, as the feet was, that Monteith had become quite intoxicated, and had been carried to nis bed only a few minutes before the message arrived; but Major Mathieson, more collected than any of us, answered, tell the Genera! I will be with him immediately. The messenger left us, and we all asked what he meant by sending such an answer. ‘ I mean, gentlemen/ answered he, ‘ to try and save this infatuated young man from certain disgrace. General Beaumont, the very last time the same thing happened, solemnly declared to him in my presence, that if he ever knew of his again oeing guilty of such conduct during the time he was on service, he would instantly place him under arrest, and send him to Madras to be tried bj a court-martial. I dare say the General has nothing very particular to communicate to him at present, and, perhaps, only wishes to keep his eye upon him. I will, therefore, make an attempt to pass for him; I am nearly of the same age and height, and some folks even say we bear a resemblance to each other. I think he is so much overcome by liquor, that I may easily take his coat and hat, and as it is getting dusk, I hope I may succeed in saving him this time.7 He left the tent, and, after a few minutes, returned, dressed in Monteith’s coat buttoned close round him, as the other was accustomed to wear it. 'None of you, I hope,’ said he, 'will ever betray this secret, as my attempt would then be of no service; and it really appears painful to think of this poor young man’s being disgraced and turned out of the regiment if we can prevent it.’ All promised silence, provided it led to no misfortune to himself and throughout this eventful day we have kept our word, hoping that Mathieson would appear when the battle was over, but now that he is not to be found, I do not think I am bound to conceal the truth any longer, for, perhaps the orders you gave him, believing nim to be Monteith, may explain the meaning of his absence.

“It does, indeed,” answered I, “and I now know whom we have all to thank for the ease with which we got possession of the town. I gave, as I thought, the command of the detachment to Monteith, and was highly displeased to see him with the army, as I never doubted that he had entrusted the care of the expedition to Campbell, his next in command, who is an active young man, and naturally wishes for an opportunity of distinguishing himself.

“I instantly sent to inquire if Arthur was in safety. In about an hour afterwards he was brought in, in a litter, having received a wound in his shoulder in storming the post. This wound he had the resolution to conceal for several hours, in which time he had completely dislodged the enemy, and had taken every precaution for keeping possession of the place till our troops came up to attack the town. Till then he ordered that no signal should be given of its having changed its masters, as he hoped that the appearance of the English colors might, if well timed, strike a panic into the enemy, which would greatly facilitate the fall of the town. All turned out as he had foreseen, but almost as soon as the army came in sight he had fainted from loss of blood and fatigue, and was carried into a small guard-house, and laid on a mattress, where he had continued until my messenger arrived. I had him instantly placed in an apartment near my own, and his wound examined by a skilful surgeon, who relieved my mind greatly by reporting that it was not dangerous, though by being so long left undressed it might give him some months’ confinement.

“His prophecy has in some degree been fulfilled, for though it is now nearly three months since the taking of the town, Arthur is not yet strong enough to be put upon active duty, but is gaining strength daily, arid there is no reason for his father making himself at all uneasy about him, as I have no doubt that in a few weeks he will be perfectly restored to health. At his earnest request, I have so far forgiven Monteith, as to allow him to retire from the army, without bringing him to a court-martial. He will return to England by the next ship. How his father will relish the letter I have written concerning him I cannot say, but it is quite impossible to act .more leniently than I have done. I cannot yet exactly inform you what share of prize-money will fell to us, but it must be very considerable. Arthur has not only the prospect of being promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel, but likewise of getting a very handsome fortune, sufficient to make him independent for life.”

“I am glad that this letter has come today,” thought Mrs. Beaumont, as she folded it up; “it will help to comfort poor William under the great affliction which is too surely falling upon him.” She put up her despatches, and joined Jessie, who was musing over the account her brother gave her of his having been wounded.

“Oh, foolish girl!” said Mrs. Beaumont, “how can you think of crying now, when you are assured of Arthur’s safety, and of all the honours that are likely to be showered upon him? We shall have him among us a rich nabob before we know where we are; and see,” continued she, glancing over the letter Jessie still held in her hand, “a confirmation of what I am saying, for he tells you here that this silly lad, Colin Montfeith, is entrusted with shawls, and I don’t know what, as presents to all his friends. Really, I think I shall wear a shawl of his presenting with greater pride than I ever did any piece of finery in my life. He is a soldier of my own making, and even Beaumont writes he is proud to be connected with him.”

“Ah! dear Aunt,” answered Jessie, “my tears flow, believe me, in thankfulness to God, for having preserved a life so precious to us all. You know not how much depends on his returning here in safety; but I am thoroughly convinced, from observations I cannot help making, that my dear father’s life depends on Arthur’s. He never showed partiality to any of us in his conduct, when we were all with him; but since my brother has been gone, I have observed even his very name, mentioned suddenly, makes the blood desert his cheek; and the tremulous quivering of his voice in asking about the news, when you have had letters, too plainly shows how much his heart is in his eldest son. And no wonder that it should be so, for Arthur is one among ten thousand. From his earliest days he has outstripped every boy in the village, and even I, who must feel very differently from his father, believe that the fixture happiness of my life must depend greatly on him.”

Mrs. Beaumont kissed her cheek, saying it was indeed not surprising that all his friends looked up to him for comfort and happiness. “You shall go in the evening, my dear, and cheer the hearts of your mother and Annie with the news, and carry your brothers their letters. Allen’s is a very large packet, and contains, I dare say, a great deal of confidential information. I shall, however, keep your father’s, and give it him myself, as I expect him here during the time of your absence.”

Jessie left Glenlyn early in the evening, and she had been gone but a very little while when her father called on Mrs. Beaumont With caution she informed him of her fears regarding poor Annie’s health, and proposed the plan sne had settled for getting the best advice for her immediately. He was at first greatly shocked, and could scarcely believe that Mrs. Beaumont had not exaggerated her danger; but after hearing all the circumstances, he bowed his head upon his breast, and said, “God’s will be done, if it really so should seem' best to try his servants by this great and unlooked-for affliction! We have been mercifully dealt with in all other trials, and received many multiplied blessings at his hand; why should we not bear chastening with patience and resignation? My dear child’s early death will no doubt deeply afflict us who are left behind, but for herself her loss will be great gain. As far as a sinful mortal can be said to be pure, she, of all my family, is the most faultless. Mild, pious, and dutiful, she has grown up in the fear of God, and in uniform obedience to her parents; beloved and respected by all who knew her, charitable and kind to those who required her assistance I To such a spirit death can have but few terrors, but, oh I the- agony of losing such a child can only be known and felt by those who must meet it”

Poor William’s resolution here gave way, and he burst into a flood of tears. Mrs. Beaumont thought it best not to attempt to interrupt him, as she hoped they would relieve him, and she was right; for, after a few minutes he recovered himself and holding out his hand to her, he said: “Pardon, dear madam, my distressing you by my weakness; I will act in future, believe me, as becomes a Christian father, but nature must feel, and that most deeply, at such a time. I will retire for an hour or two, to enable me to meet my poor wife with composure, for I quite approve of your plan of concealing from her my child’s illness till we are sure of the extent of her danger. Then, indeed, if your fears are just, we must break it to her as gently as we can, and God enable her to support the afflicting information!”

“Stay, my friend,” said Mrs. Beaumont to to him, as he rose to leave her, “I have been so unfortunate as to be obliged to give you much pain by what I have thought necessary for you to be informed ofj regarding one dear child; I have now a cordial in reserve for you, in what relates to another. Here are despatches from the General, 'in which he speaks in the highest possible terms of our dear boy, who will soon be a colonel, and rich enough to return and comfort his parents for the rest of their lives. Here are his own letters, and if you will be seated for a few minutes, I will read you what the General says of him.” She then read what we have already related. William’s agitation, as she went on, became almost insupportable; and at the account of his wound, he fell back in his chair, nearly fainting. Mr. Beaumont hastened to assure him of his son’s safety and success. He clasped his hands in thankfulness, and in an under tone, said, “His death I might have borne, if it had so pleased God; but to have fallen in such a cause, would have been more, I fear, than either my resolution or strength could* have endured I thank God, however, there is an end to my apprehensions on that account I These young men are now separated for life.”

Mrs. Beaumont was at first surprised; but afterwards supposed that Arthur had been more communicative with regard to the character of his fellow-soldier, Colin Monteith, to his father or brothers, than he had been to her, and therefore imagined that William was pleased to find they were finally separated. He now took leave, and retired into the woods which surrounded Glenlyn, endeavouring, by prayer and reflection, to fortify his mind against the storm which threatened him.

Next morning, Mrs. Beaumont drove to Lochmore for Annie, on her way to Edinburgh. She brought Jessie with her, and told Jane she meant to exchange daughters for a week, as William had agreed to allow Annie to go with her, to see a little of the world.

“I am very glad of it, answered Jane, “I hope it will do her good; for, somehow, I think of late, she has been looking very pale, and has been less cheerful than she commonly is; but William tells me, he is going with you himself, if you will allow him, as he has some business about the last year’s hay to settle; and he thinks this is so good an opportunity, he would like to take it Jessie and I can manage very well together till you return.” “O, yes, dear aunt,” said Jessie, “we shall get on nicely; it is quite a treat to me to be allowed to spend a few days with my mother and brothers; we shall ail be as merry and happy as possible.”

William now came from the other room, ready equipped for the journey. “I ask your pardon, madam, for being so bold as to propose going with you; but I really have business; and, if you could only take me within a few miles of Edinburgh, I can walk the rest of the way without being seen by any one in your carriage.”

“Come, then, William,” answered Mrs. Beaumont, “I shall never be ashamed, believe me, to be seen to have so honest a man by my side.” On getting to Edinburgh, they lost no time in obtaining the best advice it afforded for Annie. Alas! the physicians could give them no hopes of her recovery. Her case was declared to be a confirmed decline ; and, they were told, that though, with care, she might linger on a few months, it would be next to a miracle if there should be any permanent amendment

Annie, who insisted on knowing exactly what was their opinion, only smiled when informed of it; and, leaning her head on her father’s shoulder, said, “Oh! weep not for me, my beloved parent I trust that in the mercy of God I may be pardoned, and received, through the intercession of his dear Son, into everlasting peace; there, in his good time, to be again united to all I now must leave on earth, who are so dear to me. In my brothers and dear Jessie, I am sure you will find comforters and supporters in your old age, who will abundantly supply my loss; but it is from you alone that my mother can receive support m this season of affliction; and I freely own, it is the fear of witnessing her grief, that alone makes me a coward. Oh! in pity to my weakness, exert your strong and virtuous mind to save me, as far as yon possibly can, from that agony; for I dread it more than I can well express, and perhaps more than a dying Christian should permit any worldly trial to affect her.” w My child! my child!” exclaimed her poor father, clasping her to his breast, “you show me the path of .duty, which I ought and will pursue. Fear no suffering on the part either of your mother, or myself, that I can guard you from; and though the trial is, if possible, more severe, from knowing the great worth of the dear child, we must, I fear, lose; yet we will remember in our grief that from God we received her, and bless him, even now when he again requires her at our hands.” Mrs. Beaumont remained nearly a fortnight in Edinburgh, in the vain hope that Annie might receive benefit from constant medical attendance. William, meanwhile, had been persuaded to return to Lochmore, Mrs. Beaumont promising to give him daily information how nis dear child went on. At last, finding that there was little or no change, or, if any, that it was for the worse, she, at Annie’s request, agreed to return to Glenlyn with her; but settled with her father, that, till his wife had been informed of her daughter’s danger, and had, in some degree, recovered from the first shock that such intelligence must naturally give her, Annie should remain under her care. This plan, when communicated to the poor invalid, appeared greatly to relieve her mind She grasped Mrs. Beaumont’s hand, saying, “What a blessing, dear madam, have you been to us all, from the first evening of our acquaintance. In comfort and happiness have we lived ever since; and now, in the hour of trial, you do not forsake us.”

“Never, my dear Annie, shall I forsake, never shall I forget her who has so largely contributed to my happiness and comfort in the retired life I have led. I have, for many years, been your instructress, and never, in one single instance, have had reason to regret my taking on me the arduous employment. Now, our situations are changed: for now, my prayer to God is, to be able to profit by the example you set, in showing me the fruits of an humble, pious, and religious life, when laid on a sick bed, and looking forward to the grave.”

Annie was quite exhausted by the journey; and for some days after her return to Glenlvn, she was unable to leave her bed. During this time, the scene that was passing at Loch-more, was truly affecting. Jane’s health had been nearly re-established before it became necessary to inform her of her daughter’s danger. She bore it better than William had expected at first; but the restraint that she put upon herself before him produced a fever, which laid her again in her bed. Jessie’s grief) on the contrary, was ungovernable for a few hours; but she was too sensible a girl to allow herself to indulge long in useless sorrow. She, therefore, listened in the evening to her father’s arguments; and, by the next morning, had schooled her feelings so far as to be able to go to Glenlyn, and see Annie, with apparent composure. She then returned to her poor mother; and, for nearly a week, was never able to quit her. At last, the fever left Jane; and Jessie rejoiced to see that her mind was, in some degree, reconciled to what she feared was rapidly approaching.

Annie had become extremely anxious to be allowed to return to Lochmore; and though, from the exhaustion which even the moving from one room to another produced, her friends feared what she must suffer in so much longer a passage, she yet seemed so much set upon dying in her father’s house that they were unwilling to refuse her that melancholy gratification. As soon, therefore, as William thought his wife could bear to see her, she was removed home in the carriage, and laid upon her little bed, which, for some days, it was doubtful if she would ever leave again. She did, however, revive at the end of a week; and, for nearly a month afterwards, was able to be removed, every day, into the next room, and laid on a sofa, which Mrs. Beaumont had kindly sent her from Glenlyn. During the whole period, from her return to Lochmore, Jessie never quitted her, Except through the night, when her aunt and father made a point of her returning to sleep at Glenlyn. The idea of the kind girl’s catching the infection, was so strongly impressed upon her aunt’s mind, that she trembled even to allow her to be with her so much through the day. William, to whom she ventured to hint her fears, had none on the subject. Annie’s family, by tjie mother’s side, had been consumptive, and, therefore, her illness was not surprising; but he knew well, though*he could not tell Mrs. Beaumont so, that all Jessie’s family had been remarkably healthy, and inherited no such unhappy constitution. He was, therefore, easy on her account, and allowed her to be with his daughter, in the day time, as much as she pleased. The conduct of Allen and Jamie, during this long illness of their sister, was most exemplary. No attention, of whatever kind, was spared, that they thought could, in any way, alleviate her sufferings. Day after day did Allen sit by her couch, reading the Scriptures, and explaining to her any text on which she expressed a wish for information; and never id he, even by an impatient look, appeared to be tired of the employment. Jamie would walk for miles, in search of any dainty he could think of, to tempt her sickly appetite; and deemed himself amply rewarded by the look of affection that was sure to greet him on his return.

Jessie sat constantly at the side of the couch, her hand clasped in her sister’s; who, whenever she had strength to speak, conversed with her on religious subjects; pointing out with fervour the great advantages they had reaped from having been blessed with parents and friends who had not only instilled into their young minds a knowledge of divine truths, buff had led them, both by precept and example, to practise all Christian duties fitted to their age; till, by constant habit, and the conviction of their more ripened years, they were enabled to follow the footsteps of their Redeemer, in all meekness and lowliness of mind, with a firm faith in his love and mercy.

"Be steady, my beloved Jessie,” said she one day, “in pursuing the race you have begun, whatever temptations may yet be thrown in your way. Remember, always, that without perseverance in godliness, there can be no safety for a Christian; and that, when the tour of death draws nigh, no cordial can so powerfully soothe the sinking spirit as the assurance of having made your peace with God, and kept fast your reliance on the merits of your Saviour.”

Jessie composedly thanked her sister, promising, faithfully, that through life she would religiously attend to her advice. “I have a commission, dear Jessie,” answered Annie, “which I must leave you to execute. Alas! it is not permitted me to do it myself; for I have tried once or twice to sit up long enough to write, but my strength fails. It is to take leave of my dear Arthur. He is the only one of my friends who is now absent; but though at so great a distance, tell him, dear sister, that he has never been out of my thoughts, and that my prayers have been offered up for him constantly, morning and evening, from the day we have been separated. Tell him, (because I know it will comfort him,) that I have been greatly supported through my long illness by the Holy Spirit; and greatly assisted in my preparations for my awful change, by the kindness and superior knowledge of our dear Allen, who has enlightened my mind, and encouraged my heart, by explaining the great truths of the Gospel more fully than my own limited acquirements allowed me to do. And when my brother returns to comfort the declining years of his parents, and to gladden the hearts of you all, give him this Bible, as the last gift of a sister, who loved him with the truest affection, and who prays that it may conduce as much to his comfort in his latter days, as it has done to lighten the pains of her own.”

Her lips slightly quivered as she finished the last sentence, ana, for some minutes she was silent; then opening her eyes, she spoke a^ain: 11 Another request, dear Jessie, I have still to make; for I would rather explain my wishes fully to you, than to any one else; and I do not wish, after this time, to allow my thoughts to mix again with earthly cares. When the last awful debt is paid, will you, my sister, cut from my head a lock of my hair; divide it into parts, and when you can spare as much of your pocket-money as to pay for it, get them enclosed in small plain lockets, with merely my initials on them. Give them to my parents and brothers, as a small memorandum of Annie, whom they all loved so dearly. Mrs. Beaumont has already got my last legacy to my sister, which she will give you when all is over. Will you promise me, Jessie, to do this? It is in the hope, that, by-daily seeing these little remembrances, their thoughts may be the oftener recalled to the time when they must prepare to follow me, that I have wished them to wear them; for then I shall be of service to them, even in the grave.”

Jessie pressed her hand to her lips, and answered, "I promise you, my beloved sister, to fulfil your slightest wish in this, and all other points, as faithfully as if you were still in being.”

“Enough, dear Jessie. When my father comes home, leave us for a few minutes together; but do not stay n^re than a quarter of an hour from the room; that will be long enough for us both to bear such an interview.”

Jessie did as she had been requested, and William went to his daughter, where one of the most gratifying moments of his life, though the most difficult and painful to sustain, was prepared for him. Annie said she had sent for him to tell him herself that she felt convinced her end was now rapidly approaching, and to beg that he would, in the way he thought best, prepare her mother for what a few hours would infallibly produce. She thanked him, in the warmest and most affectionate terms, for all the tenderness and care he had bestowed on her; entreated him to forgive whatever omissions she had been guilty of during her life; and then requested that he would, for the last time, bestow on her a father’s blessing.

William was too much awed by the astonishing and beautiful composure of the dying girl, to refuse complying with her request; though his heart felt pained, almost to bursting. He knelt down by her side, and prayed that he might be enabled to fulfil the duties of a parent to his dying child; and then placing his hand on her head, which was meekly bent down towards him, he pronounced his blessing, and prayed that the pains of death might be lightened to his dutiful and obedient child.

Annie merely answered, “Amen, my father!” and from that moment was silent for several hours. Towards morning she opened her eyes; when seeing her mother and Mrs. Beaumont watching by her, whilst Allen was on his knees by her bedside, she held out her hand, and said, “My mother, behold the death of the Christian you have reared. ‘O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?’ Thanks be to God, who# giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ I” She was again silent; but in a few minutes she grasped Mrs. Beaumont’s hand hastily, saying, 44 Lord Jesus, receive my spirit I” and sunk down upon her pillow, a lifeless corpse.

Poor Jane instantly fainted; she was gently raised from the bed on which she had fallen, and carried into her own room by Allen, who continued to watch by her till she revived, when he was rejoiced to see her burst into an agony of tears, and in a few minutes he ventured. to leave her, and return to assist in comforting his equally dear father, who, from-the moment of his child’s death, had sat almost insensible in a chair by the side of her bed. Allen spoke to him for a considerable time, without being able to rouse him; till fearing to allow him to remain longer in that state, he said, “Father, let us pray that our end may be like hers.” William instantly rose, and kneeled down, while Allen prayed for a few minutes, in a most impressive manner, for grace to be enabled to prepare for death, and that comfort might visit the house of affliction.

When they arose from their knees, William had regained his usual composure, and kissing Allen, said, “My son, I thank you; I am now, through your means, what a suffering Christian ought to be — submissive to the will of God.”

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