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Arthur Monteith
By Mrs. Blackford (now Lady Stoddart) (1857) - Chapter 6

Another fortnight passed before Lady Beaumont heard again from her husband; but the-contents of the letter which then arrived, richly repaid her for all the anxiety she had endured.

Sir Charles informed her, that on laying before the King the memorial which he had drawn up, accompanied with the documents furnished by William and Allen, and the will and confession of Colonel Monteith, His Majesty was so indignant at the treachery employed against Hector and Sir Alexander, and so much struck with the fidelity and astonishing exertions of William, for the preservation of the orphans, that he instantly directed his minister to recommend to Parliament a reversal of the attainder against both the families of Monteith and M’Donald; and there was no doubt but that, as soon as the forms of business could be gone through, the rank and fortunes of both would be once more restored to them. Colin had been privately informed of Arthur’s relationship, and of the safety of those poor little orphans, whose fate, from the moment he had understood the arts that had been employed to ruin them, through the means of his unprincipled father, he had been so anxious to ascertain. William, at his particular desire, had revealed to Arthur and Allen the eventful history of their own birth, and the melancholy events that had led to the destruction of their parents. The astonishment of Allen was beyond description; and, for some time, he would scarcely believe that the account could be real. But the testimony of his brother, who assured him that he perfectly recollected his own father, and, likewise, the last injunctions he gave him, to consider William as his parent till he himself could again see him, at last convinced him of the truth.

Colin seemed just to have lived long enough to be assured of his cousin’s safety. He gradually sank, from the day that the information of the King’s intention in favour of the orphans reached Richmond; and, two days before Sir Charles wrote, he breathed his last in Arthur’s arms, with every appearance of having repented sincerely of his errors. Almost his last words were—“Oh! that I too had been brought up in a cottage, and had received the invaluable instructions of a Chris-. tian father, so far superior, at this awful hour, to all the fortune and honours on which my misguided parent placed such value I Then I might have met death with composure and resignation. Then I might have been spared the agony of a broken spirit; looking fearfully forward to a world .which endeth not, and in which there is no respect of persons.”

“Allen has promised me,” continued Sir Charles, “a solution of his mystery, when I arrive at Glenlyn. I hope that that will now be soon; and my dear Mary may rest assured, that the moment the business of our orphans is finished, I shall not lose a moment in quitting London, on my way to the home that now appears to me more precious than ever, and from which, I promise you, no motives, of ambition shall ever have power to tempt me.”

About a month from the receipt of this letter, Sir Charles Beaumont and William drove up to the door of Glenlyn House, where they were met by the whole of their friends, who had been sent for by Lady Beaumont, in the morning, to enjoy the happy meeting.

“My boys!” exclaimed Jane, “Where are they? Have they really refused to gratify me with once more pressing them to my arms, and hearing them call me by the name of mother?”

“Think not so meanly, my dear Jane, of our precious sons. A business of great consequence, they assure me, must prevent them from joining us for a couple of hours; then you will find them all that the fondest and most attached mother can wish. They left us at Edinburgh; but I have no doubt they will arrive before the hour of dinner; ana, till then, we must try to be as happy as we can with the children that are here, and who are as dear to me as even Arthur and Allen, with all their new dignities.”

“Ah! there is the misfortune,” returned Jane, despondingly. “Allen may still love us; for he is so mild and humble, that I fear little for him; but Arthur, even in infancy, had always such a high and lofty way with him, that I cannot think he ever again will look upon poor Jane Mathieson as a parent.” “Mother! mother!” cried Jessie, “what has come to you? A little while ago, you took it into your head, that I should treat you ungratefully, for no reason that I could ever discover. Now you have transferred the foolish notion to poor Arthur, whose whole study, all his life, has been to make you and my father comfortable. Never has a single packet come from India, without his enclosing for you some mark of his dutiful affection, both in words and deeds; and why you should suppose that he has learned to be wicked, ana to despise his parents, I cannot possibly conceive. I’ll insure both his love and duty to you; and, what is more, you will be heartily ashamed of ever having sus-spected either, before he has been half an hour in the house.”

"God grant, my dear Jessie, that you may be a true prophet! but even yet I have my doubts.” William smiled. “Well, well, Jane, be as unbelieving as you please. Time will show you who is right. For my part, though I have as much reason to fear as you have, I am not going to put such fancies into their heads; and, what is more, as long as I am alive, I shall think myself as well entitled to find fault with the laird, if I see him going wrong, as I ever did with the bare-footed boy in the cottage at Carlin’s Loup.”

"And a reproof of yours, William,” said Sir Charles, 44 will be as well received by the laird, or I am much mistaken, as ever it was by the bare-footed boy. Arthur is not a pin altered in character, since the first moment I saw him on the branch of that fearful tree that hangs over the water-fall. Even then, of his own accord, he gave me a promise never to go on so dangerous a tree again, the moment he saw me alarmed for his safety. And can you, Jane, suppose, that the boy who was so fearful of giving pain to a stranger, would now, as a man, wilfully agonize the bosom of one who has acted as you haye towards him, from infancy?”

Another carriage was, at that moment, heard driving towards the house. “Here they are!” cried Jessie and Lady Beaumont, botn at once. “They must answer for themselves.” Both ran towards the house-door, where they saw the strangers, supporting between them a reverend old gentleman, who appeared so agitated as scarcely to be able to ascend the steps with their assistance, and who, our readers will be already prepared to hear, was no other than old Robert I Lady Beaumont, who was a little way behind Jessie, uttered a violent scream, and sprung past her, just in time to receive in her arms her father, who, in his haste to reach her, would have fallen, had she not caught him. Her voice had been heard by her husband, who hurried forward to see what was was the matter. The sight that met his eye rendered him speechless from surprise. At length he exclaimed, “Can it be possible that I see my uncle, Sir Alexander M’Donald, alive, and in my house!”

“Yes, Charles, you do, indeed, see your uncle, who feels ashamed to come into your presence, after having ever believed that you were capable of being a villain. To these dear young men, I, in a great measure, owe my preservation through so many years of solitude. They supplied my wants, afforded me employment in their boyhood; gave me society and conversation as they advanced in years; and, at last they have been, through the blessing of Providence, the instruments of restoring me to my honour and fortune; as well as to the prospect of ending my days in the bosom of my family.”

The history of Arthur*s first discovery of Sir Alexander, everything that followed with regard to his education, and likewise the great improvement that Allen had reaped from his subsequent intercourse with his old friend, were all now related. This recital exceedingly increased the high opinion which Sir Charles already entertained of both his young friends; and at the same time greatly astonished William, when he found that they had, for so many years, been able to preserve the secret entrusted to them inviolate.

Jane’s fears were hushed to sleep for ever. She found Arthur was, if possible, more affectionate and studious of fulfilling her wishes, than even when he was the little barelegged boy in the cottage at Carlin’s Loup. Jessie, dear Jessie, was likewise the same attentive and attached daughter she had ever been: and she even shed tears, when informed that she had no natural claims upon her as a mother. Sir Charles and Lady Beaumont were now the happiest of human beings— surrounded by a family who, even by blood, were their nearest connexions; who, through their means, had been enabled to recover their rank and property; and who by their benevolence and kindness, had been rendered fit to associate with their equals. “Ah! how little” exclaimed Sir Charles, as they sat round the table after dinner, “did we imagine, when we first talked of placing William at Lochmore, that we were then enabling him to rear the children of Monteith, and our cousin Mary; and that, by their means, we were raising up the preservers and comforters of our beloved father I Without such support, he never could have survived this many years of misery; and without our having made William comparatively easy in his circumstances, a thousand chances to one if even Arthur, with all his industry and perseverance, could have attained the first object of his ambition, a commission in the Bang’s service.”

“True,” answered Lady Beaumont, “but you must not forget that our interest in Wil-am was excited by the artless and upright conduct of his children, in our interview with them at Habbie’s How. The pains and care which he bestowed upon them, even whilst he was reduced to labour in the meanest employment, afford a striking lesson to the peasantry of every country, how much they may have it in their power to contribute, both to the happiness and prosperity of their families, by making the Scriptures the constant rule of their actions, and bringing up their children in the fear of the Lord.”

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