Colin smiled and said, “Isabel does not easily accept an answer she dislikes.”
“But remember, both of you,” continued Lord Keith, “that happen what may, this poor child is not to be in her charge. I’ve seen enough of her children left alone in perambulators in the sun. You will be in Edinburgh?” he added, turning to Rachel.
“Yes, when Alick’s leave ends.”
“I shall return thither when this matter is over, I know I shall be better at home in Scotland, and if I winter in Edinburgh, may be we could make some arrangement for his being still under your eye.”
Rachel went home more elevated than she had been for months past.
“I bid thee hail, not as in former days,
Not as my chosen only, but my bride,
My very bride, coming to make my house
A glorious temple.” A. H. Hallam.
“Dear Miss Williams,—I must begin by entreating your forgiveness for addressing you in a manner for which perhaps you may be unprepared; but I trust you have always been aware, that any objections that I may have offered to my brother Colin’s attachment to yourself have never been personal, or owing to anything but an unfortunate complication of circumstances. These difficulties are, as no doubt he will explain to you, in great measure removed by the present condition of my family, which will enable me to make such settlements as I could wish in the ease of one so nearly connected with me; so that I am enabled to entreat of you at length to reward the persevering constancy so well deserved. I have a further, and a personal cause for wishing that the event should not be deferred, as regard for my feelings might have led you to propose. You are aware of the present state of my health, and that it has become expedient to make immediate arrangements for the future guardianship of my little boy. His uncles are of course his natural guardians, and I have unbounded confidence in both; but Alexander Keith’s profession renders it probable that he may not always be at hand, and I am therefore desirous of being able to nominate yourself, together with my brother, among the personal guardians. Indeed, I understand from Alexander Keith, that such was the express wish of his sister. I mention this as an additional motive to induce you to consent. For my own part, even without so stringent a cause, all that I have ever seen or known of yourself would inspire me with the desire that you should take a mother’s place towards my son. But you must be aware that such an appointment could only be made when you are already one of the family, and this it is that leads me to entreat you to overlook any appearance of precipitancy on my brother’s part, and return a favourable reply to the request, which with my complete sanction, he is about to address to you.