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Arthur Monteith
By Mrs. Blackford (now Lady Stoddart) (1857) - Chapter 7

Sir Alexander and Sir Charles thought it advisable for Arthur to lose no time in establishing himself at Monteith; and after some little consideration, it was determined that they should set out themselves a few days before any other of the party, in order to have everything settled, before the young heir was introduced to his dependants. Lady Beaumont greatly objected to her father’s attempting to take such a journey; but the old man seemed to have recovered his youth, and declared that he would walk barefooted, rather than not be present when the son of Hector Monteith was reinstated in his birthright.

“But consider your great age, dear sir,” still pleaded his daughter. “If the journey should be too much for you, we shall none of us forgive ourselves for having yielded to your wishes.”

“Pohl pohl girl,” answered he, as he stepped into the carriage, “I am the youngest of you all, at this time, and can feel no fatigue when engaged in such a cause.”

Ten days from the time of their departure, Arthur, William, and Jessie, in one carriage, and Lady Beaumont, Jane, and Allen, in another, quitted Glenlyn, on their way to Monteith. Jamie had accompanied Sir Charles and Sir Alexander, as they thought he would be of great service to them, by his activity and skill in settling the necessary business relative to the tenants on the estate, and in saving them from much fatigue, which otherwise they would have been obliged to undergo.

The day shone bright, and all nature seemed to rejoice in the welcome return of the rights fill heir of Monteith to the mansion of his ancestors. As they passed through Stirling, William carried his young friends to the very spot where he first received them out of the basket, when lowered by the trembling hands of their affectionate father. “From that window, my children, did you descend; a spot which I now shudder to look on, as the slightest turn or struggle on your parts, must have placed you in great jeopardy, and might have occasioned your destruction. On that morning, my dear Arthur, you first displayed the obedience and resolution which nave since become such prominent features in your character; for, if you had not, from a wish to save your poor mother’s tears, obeyed your father’s instructions, and resolutely suppressed the screams which the terror of such a descent might naturally have inclined a child of your age to utter, your own ruin, and that of your brother and sister must have been the consequence. Let it act, my son, as a lesson to you, if it should ever please God to make you a father, to be care-ul in rearing your infants, even from the earliest age, in habits of strict obedience to your own commands, and in uniform respect and love to their mother. Few ever had so much reason as you have, to bless God that their parents had followed these rules. I sincerely trust that no child of yours will ever be placed in similar danger; yet, rest assured, that in all situations during life, such lessons will be productive, both to the parent and the child, of most essential advantages; and if such a foundation is once laid, easy will be the acquisition of all other good principles and virtues.”

Our young friends were much affected at seeing the prison of their parents; and Lady Beaumont, fearful of spreading a gloom over a day dedicated to happiness and rejoicing, eagerly pressed William to quit Stirling, and proceed towards Monteith, which lay about seven miles to the north of that ancient city.

The mansion-house of Monteith was originally a handsome, old-fashioned edifice, of considerable size. It was built like many gentlemen’s houses in Scotland, in the form of a castle ; being surrounded with turrets, and haying a sort of embattlement round the roof. The woods which grew thickly on all sides, prevented it from being seen from the road at any great distance; but as our friends drove through the little straggling village which bore the name of the estate, they caught a sight of one single turret, which rose above the rest, and formed a striking feature of the landscape.

"Ah!" exclaimed Jane, eagerly letting down the glass, “there is my lady’s turret, where you, my dear Allen, were born, and where I have passed so many happy days.”

Allen was prevented from replying, by a number of the tenants who approached to meet the carriages, and who, in proof of the delight they felt on seeing the children of their old master returned among them, insisted on being allowed to draw them up to the house of Monteith. Arthur and Allen remonstrated against this as much as they could; but they were obliged to submit, or they would have hurt the feelings of those who meant to do them honour. William sat back in the carriage, that he might not be recognized; but Jane leaned eagerly forward to watch the various countenances that surrounded her, in hopes of seeing her father or brother amongst them. At last, her brother’s face met het eye. Unable to contain herself any longer, she called out, “Jamie Morrison! Jamie Morrison I do I live to see you again at Monteith?”

Her brother, who was one of the most eager in drawing the carriage, at the sound of his own name, looked hastily up, and instantly recognized his sister, to whom he had been particularly attached, and whom he had for many years firmly believed to be dead.

“Jane! my sister Jane!” cried he, letting go his hold. “Oh! it is she who has saved le orphans!” The poor fellow would have fallen to the ground if one of his neighbours had not supported him: and it was with the utmost difficulty that Allen could prevent Jane from getting out of the carriage to his assistance. “Bring him up, my mend, to Monteith-House,” said Allen. “There we shall rejoice to see any relation of my dear mother, and my equally dear father.”

“He called me mother, Lady Beaumont,” said Jane, bursting into tears of delight; “did you hear that, even before the whole of the tenants of MonteithI AhI I am the proudest and the happiest of women this day.

“My dearest mother,” said Allen, putting his arms round her, and straining her to his breast, “do you suppose that any of us will ever give you any other name, let who will be present? Nay, even were the king upon his throne beside us, you and my father must ever hold the place you have so long and so faithfully filled, both in our love and respect.”

It is quite impossible to describe the meeting between Jane and her father. The old man had been singled out by Sir Charles, who had kept him in the house with himself, when the other villagers went out to meet the carriages. On being informed of the part William and Jane had acted, his astonishment was beyond bounds: and whilst he expressed his delight and happiness, he declared that had he ever suspected what were the motives for their quitting the country, so far from blaming them, as he had done, he would have sold every thing he possessed to have assisted them in rearing the orphans.

Little more remains to be related. Arthur, beloved and respected by every one, fixed his residence at Monteith; where, in the course of a few months, he married an amiable young woman in the neighbourhood.

Allen, from choice, entered into the church; and very soon afterwards, upon the death of the clergyman of the parish in which the estate of Monteith lay, ne was presented to the living by his brother, in whose gift it was. In this situation he became a blessing to his parishioners, and an ornament to the sacred profession to which he belonged.

Jessie continued to reside with Sir Charles and Lady Beaumont at Glenlyn, paying regularly a visit to her brothers every year; generally spending several months with them, and always quitting them with regret. She became, at the age of twenty-one, attached to a nephew of Sir Charles’s, and shortly afterwards married him, to the satisfaction of all connected with her; and as he was the presumptive heir to the title and estate of his uncle, it was to Sir Charles and Lady Beaumont, an union above all others desirable.

William and Jane were glad when their son James informed them of his intention of bringing home a wife to Lochmore; for they had long determined to give up that farm to him as soon as they could see him comfortably settled in marriage. His choice fell upon Mr. Brown’s daughter; and in little more than a year after that marriage, Allen was united to her sister; so that he and James became in reality, what they had long been in affection—brothers.

William, on giving up his farm, returned with his wife to their much-loved cottage at Monteith; all Arthur’s entreaties not being able to prevail on them, either to reside with him, or to allow him to build a better house on his own little farm.

“No, my son,” answered William, “I never will consent to be any thing beyond a respectable farmer. In that rank I was born; and in that rank, if it please God, I will die. I am willing to continue to be considered by you as your father, so far as confidence and affection go; for I think I deserve to be so treated and respected by you; but I will never allow either your kindness or my own vanity, to make me forget what I owe to my own character. It was a rule taught me by my good and worthy father, never to aspire to a situation, which neither my birth, habits, nor education, rendered me fit to occupy. I have followed the same rule with regard to my son James; though by the pains which you bestowed on him in his youth, he is more polished than his father ever was. He has contrived, indeed, to marry above the rank to which his birth entitled him; yet as his wife has been brought up with economy, and is a sensible girl, the daughter of an honest man, who loved him like a son, I did not oppose his choice.”

Jane was one of the happiest of human beings. She was tenderly beloved by her husband; and all her children paid her the most unremitting attention, never suffering her to grow weary by separation from them, but always contriving, that during the hours of William’s absence, some one of them should visit her. Her daughters-in-law, as she called them, both entered with the liveliest interest into the feelings and wishes of their husbands, \ respecting ana treating her exactly as if she had been their own mother.

Thus have I brought to a conclusion the history of Arthur Monteith. If I have related it properly, it must have carried its own moral along with it; but my young readers will, perhaps, expect that I should direct their attention to the principal lessons that I wished to inculcate, not only in this volume, but in the book of which it is a continuation. Well, then, we will begin with the first foundation of all those good and honourable feelings which distinguished our hero throughout the course of his life. “Honour thy father and thy mother,” was the law early and deeply imprinted on his young heart Respect for nis parents, and consequent obedience to their commands, enabled him, though little more than an infant, to suppress his cries when placed in a situation where, without such habits, he would naturally have given way to the force of terror, the consequence of which must have been the ruin of himself as well as of his brother and sister. The same habits led him to submit to the directions of William Mathieson, even when too young to judge of the motives which influenced the latter to exact silence on a subject so highly interesting to him as his birth. Again, subsequently, when from his age and acquirements he might naturally have hoped to be trusted with the secret, we have seen him evince the same respect and obedience to his kind protector, without allowing himself to doubt the propriety of William’s decision. Another result of his early submission to the authority of his parents was that strength of mind, which is acquired by imposing a restraint on the will. This it was which enabled him to preserve, for such a length of time, the secret of Sir Alexander M’Donald: and by so doing, to secure the life and safety of his father’s friend, and benefactor’s uncle. The religious and moral lessons which were first impressed on his mind, under the parental roof, and afterwards nurtured and brought to maturity by the care of William, enabled the virtuous youth to withstand the temptations, and overcome the trials, which he met with in the world; to became a blessing to his friends, and a comfort even to the dying sinner. They gave him strength to persevere in those honourable exertions which raised him to an elevated rank in society; and they taught him to look forward with humble confidence in the merits of his Redeemer, to still brighter rewards in a less perishable and more glorious state of existence.

In comparing Annie’s death with that of Colonel Monteith, my young friends will learn the inestimable value of a well-spent life. It is this that smooths the pillow of the dying Christian; and though it cannot remove all the bitterness of that awful hour, yet it sustains the fainting soul with a lively hope of inheriting the mansions above.

Nor is the resignation of William, when bereft of his dear and amiable daughter, a circumstance from which less instruction is to be drawn; for it proves that the same faith which is the Christian’s support on the brink of the grave, is likewise his shield and refuge amid all the losses and afflictions of life.

If, by the perusal of these pages, consolation be afforded to any reader whom death has deprived of a friend; if any child be taught to imitate the active virtues of Arthur, and so to live, as at last to die like Annie; if any parent be induced to imprint more deeply on the minds of his offspring the precepts of religion and virtue, the author will not have laboured in vain, nor will she have cause to regret the time which has been occupied in penning this simple story.

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