Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

A reconstructed marriage online

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God, and dared to tell Him all the sorrow in her
heart. Her disappointment had been dreadful, but
God's pity had touched the great mistake, and she
was now waiting as patiently and cheerfully as pos
sible for the finality sure to come.

So far she had hid her wrongs and her disillusions
in her heart; not even to her parents had she com
plained. The heart-breaking cruelties from which
she suffered were not recognized by the law, and they
were screened from the world by the closed doors
of domestic life. So she had bowed both her heart
and her head, and was dumb to every one but her
Maker. He alone knew her in those days of utter
desolation, when her wronged and wounded soul re
tired from all earthly affections to that Eternal Love
always waiting our hour of need.

At this time it was the once snubbed and depressed
Christina who dominated Traquair House. From
her first interview with Theodora, she had resolved
to become like her. With patient zeal she had
studied and acquired whatever Theodora had recom
mended. And quickly divining the bent of her in
tellectual faculties, Theodora had educated that bent
to perfection. The correct technique of the piano

180 A Reconstructed Marriage

was already known to Christina, but Theodora di
rected it into its proper channel of expression, and
showed her how to put a soul into her playing and
singing. She found for her the most delicate and
humorous portions of literature, and taught her how
to recite them. She made her free of all the secrets
of beautiful dressing, and urged her to do justice
to her person; until very gradually the commonplace
Christina had flowered into an attractive woman.

In the third year of Theodora's married life Chris
tina had begun to dress herself with a rich and al
most fastidious elegance, and, as frequently happens,
she put on with her fine clothing a certain amount
of genius and authority. No one snubbed her now,
for she had made a distinct place for herself in the
special set the Traquair Campbells affected the rich
religious set and her definite and agreeable accom
plishments caused her to be eagerly sought for every
entertainment in that set. She had begun to have
admirers, flowers were sent to her and gentlemen
called upon her, and she received invitations from
them to concerts, lectures, and such national and
therefore correct plays, as Rob Roy and Macbeth.
This social admiration developed her self-apprecia
tion and self-reliance to a wonderful extent. She
was no longer afraid of any member of her family,
and they were secretly very proud of her.

Mrs. Campbell talked of her daughter's social
triumphs constantly. " Your sister is the belle of
every occasion, Robert," she said to her son. " She
has as many as five and six callers every day; she

A Reconstructed Marriage 181

has been named in the papers as ' the lovely and
accomplished Miss Christina Campbell ' ; she has
numerous lovers to tak' her choice o', and tell me,
my lad, whaur's your Theodora now ! " She tossed
her head triumphantly to the scornful laugh with
which she asked the question.

" Mother, you know that Dora has made Chris
tina all she is. Be honest, and confess that."

" 'Deed I will not. The beauty and the talents
were a' in the lassie. Dora may have said a word
now and then, and showed her a thing or two, here
and there, but the gifts were Christina's, and the
lassie's ain patient wark has brought them to their
perfection. That's a crowned truth and I'll suffer
no contradiction to it. We shall have to order her
wedding feast vera soon. I have not a doubt o'
that." ^

" I hope she will have the sense not to overlook
the baronet in her train of admirers."

" You're meaning Sir Thomas Wynton? "

" Yes. He is quite in the mind to buy a hand
some share in the works, and his name and money
would be a great thing for us. I intend to bring
him here to dinner to-morrow. Tell Christina I
am looking to her to bring him into the family, and
into the works."

" I'll be no such fool, Robert Campbell. I shall
say nothing anent Sir Thomas, save the particular
fact of his coming here to dinner. Little you know
o' women, if you think any lassie can be counselled
to marry the man she ought to marry."

182 A Reconstructed Marriage

" Take your own way with her, mother, but mind
this the securing of Sir Thomas Wynton will be
a special providence for the Campbells. He has
one hundred thousand pounds to invest, and I can
not bear to think of him carrying all that capital
anywhere but to the Campbell furnaces."

" I'll manage it. Never fear, Robert, Christina
shall be my lady Christina and you shall have the
Wynton siller to trade with. It will be a righteous
undertaking for me, for it is fairly sinful in Sir
Thomas, hiding his hundred thousand talents as it
were in a napkin. A bank is no better than a
napkin; money is just folded away in it; and money
is made round that it may roll. The Campbell
works will set the hundred thousand pieces rolling
and gathering more, and more, and still more.
Losh! it makes me tremble to think of them going
out o' the Campbell road. That would be an un
thinkable calamity."

" If you can manage it, mother, it "

" ' If ' there's no ' if ' in the matter." She smiled
and nodded, and seemed so sure of success, that Rob
ert found it difficult to refrain himself from making
certain calculations, dependent upon a larger capital.

The next day at noon Mrs. Campbell remarked
in a tone of inconvenience, or household discomfort :
" I believe, girls, your brother is going to bring Sir
Thomas Wynton home with him to-night. I am
fairly wearied of the man's name."

" He is a very fine gentleman, mother," said Chris

A Reconstructed Marriage 183

" He is auld, and auld-farrant."

" He is not over forty-five, and he is far from
being old-fashioned. He is up to the nick of the
times in everything."

' Your brother never thinks of any manly quality
but money. He says Sir Thomas is rich. I wouldn't
wonder if he has only the name o' riches. But,
rich or poor, he is coming to dinner, and I be to
see McNab anent the eatables. A very moderate
dinner will do, I should say."

" Make the finest dinner you can, mother, and it
will be only a pot-luck affair to Sir Thomas," an
swered Christina. " He is rich, and he is powerful
in politics, and he has one of the finest castles in
Midlothian. He is well worth a good dinner,
mother, and Robert will like to see he has one."

" What do you say, Isabel? "

" I say Robert is worth pleasing, mother. The
other man is a problem, perhaps it may be worth
while to please him, perhaps not. The negatives
generally win, I've noticed that."

" Well, well! The dinner is all we can cater for
there's accidentals anent every affair, and they are
beyont us, as a rule. Are either of you going out
this afternoon? "

" There is nothing to take me out," said Isabel.

" I was out late last night," said Christina. " I
shall rest this afternoon. Sir Thomas is rather a
weariness. We shall all be thankful when he makes
his court bow and says, ' Good-night, ladies ! I have
had a perfectly delightsome evening.' " She boldly

184 A Reconstructed Marriage

mimicked the baronet's broad Scotch speech and
courtly debonair manner, without any fear of the cold
silence, or cutting reproofs her mimicry used to pro

No more was said, and the girls did not take Sir
Thomas Wynton into their conversation. He ap
peared to be a person of no importance to them.
As they were parting Isabel asked: " What will you
wear to-night, Christina?" and Christina answered:
" I have not thought of my dress yet what will you
wear? "

" My gray silk, trimmed with black lace."
" Put on white laces; they are more becoming."
" The dress is ready for the Social Club at the
church, Friday. Why should I alter it for a couple
of hours to-night? I wish you would wear your
rose satin. You look so bonnie in it."

" I'll not don it for Sir Thomas Wynton I I
wish to wear it at Mrs. Bannerman's dinner Thurs
day, and Wynton is sure to be there. I don't want
him to think I wore my best dress for him only. It
would set him up too high."

But if she did not wish to wear her rose satin
for Sir Thomas, she appeared in a far more effective
costume a black Maltese lace gown, trimmed with
bright rose-colored bows of satin ribbon. Her
really fine arms were bare from the elbows, her
square-cut neck showed a beautifully white, firm
throat, and the glow of the ribbons was over her
neck and arms, and touched the dress here and there
charmingly. A bright red rose showed among the

A Reconstructed Marriage 185

manifold braids of her black hair, and she had in
her hand a rose-colored fan, with which she coquetted
very prettily.

Robert was charmed with her appearance, and
told her so. " I want you to charm Sir Thomas
Wynton for me," he added. " It is desirable that
I should have him for a business partner. Do you
understand? "

She laughed, and putting her fan before her face
asked in a whisper: "What will you give me, Rob
ert, if I win him for you? "

" Five hundred pounds," he said promptly.

" Done ! " she replied, and then, hearing the door
open, she turned to see Sir Thomas Wynton enter
ing. She went to meet him with a laughing wel
come and with both hands extended. She sat at
his side during dinner and kept him laughing, and
when she left the dining-room ordered him with
a pretty authority to be in the drawing-room
for tea, in forty-five minutes. And he took
out his watch, noted the time, and promised
all she asked.

In forty-five minutes exactly, he appeared in the
drawing-room. Jepson was serving tea, and Chris
tina's cup stood on the piano, for as Robert and Sir
Thomas entered the room she was playing with
lively, racy spirit, the prelude to the inimitably
humorous song of " The Laird o' Cockpen." Sir
Thomas went at once to her side, and when he spoke
to her, she answered him with the musical, mocking
words :

1 86 A Reconstructed Marriage

" The laird of Cockpen he's proud, and he's great,
His mind is taen up wi' the things o' the State," etc.

Sir Thomas listened with peals of laughter, and Rob
ert and Mrs. Campbell joined in the merriment.
Even Isabel was unable to preserve the usual still
ness of her face, though she was far more interested
in the singer than the song. Where had all these
charming coquetries, this mirth and melody been hid
den in the old Christina? This was not the Chris
tina she had known all her life. " It is Theodora's
doing," she thought, " and not one of us have given
her one word of thanks. It is too bad! And I
am sure she stayed in her own room to-night, to give
Christina a fair field, and no rival. She is a good
woman. I wish mother could like her."

The whole evening was a triumph for Christina.
She sang " Sir John Cope " with irresistible raillery,
and roused every Scotch feeling in her audience with
" Bannocks o' Barley Meal," and " The Kail Brose
of Auld Scotland" She told her most amusing
stories, and finally induced Sir Thomas Wynton and
her brother, mother, and sister to join her in the
parting song of " Auld Lang Syne" Then, with
evident reluctance, Sir Thomas went away, " thor
oughly bewitched in a' his five senses," as he con
fessed later. Christina knew it, for ere she bid her
brother good-night, she found an opportunity to
whisper :

" You will owe me five hundred pounds very

A Reconstructed Marriage 187

" I will pay it," he answered, and she looked back
ward at him with a laugh. Then he turned to his
mother and said: "Who would have believed that
Christina had all this fun and mischief in her? "

" Ah, well, Robert," answered Mrs. Campbell,
" Scotch girls don't put all their goods in the window.
They hold a deal in reserve and there's none but
the one man can ever bring it out o' them. I'm think
ing Sir Thomas is the one man, in Christina's mind."

" I hope so."

" I have not such a thing as a doubt left."

" Do you tell me that, mother? "

' Yes, I took good notice, and she seemed to be
on a very easy footing with him. I'll give him a
week to think things o'er, but the marriage o' Chris
tina Campbell and Sir Thomas Wynton is certain."

" We will not go quite that far yet, mother, but
I think this evening's events warrant that presump

While this conversation was in progress, Chris
tina was going upstairs, and her quick, strong steps
were in singular contrast to the slow, inert move
ments of the Christina of a few years previous. At
Theodora's bedroom door she paused irresolutely
for a few moments, but finally tapped at it. Theo
dora herself answered the summons. She was in
a long, white gown, and her face was white as the

" Are you ill, Dora? " Christina asked.

" No, I am sleepy. Have you had a pleasant
evening? "

1 88 A Reconstructed Marriage

" Yes. All went to my wish. Every honor was
in my hand, but if you had been present honors would
have been easy, if not entirely in your hand. It
was kind of you to give me this free opportunity,
and I feel sure I have won the game. Good-night."

" Good-night. You are looking unusually hand

" This dress is becoming. Good-night," and she
went gaily away, timing her steps to the music of
the last line of her conquering song:

" And the late Mistress Jean, is my Lady Cockpen,"

laughing softly to herself as she closed her door.
For she knew that she had won Sir Thomas Wyn-
ton, and her sharp little bit of a soul had already
caught a keen sight of the further triumphs awaiting
her. She would travel, she would be presented at
many courts, she would entertain splendidly at Wyn-
ton Castle, she would be kind to Theodora, and
patronize and protect her and she would make the
hearts of the Campbelton set sick with envy. So
she went to sleep planning a future for herself, of
the most stupendous self-pleasing.

But within one week her most unlikely plans had
assumed an air of certainty. Sir Thomas Wynton
had formally asked Mrs. Campbell for her daugh
ter's hand, and Miss Christina Campbell been rec
ognized as the future Lady Wynton. Then her
world was at her feet, every one did her homage,
and brought her presents, and praised her for having
done so well to herself. And she took the place

A Reconstructed Marriage 189

in the household accorded her without dissent and
without apologies, and ordered her outgoings and in
comings as she desired.

At first the middle of June had been named for
the marriage, but before long the date was for
warded to the eighteenth of April, for Sir Thomas
was an ardent lover and would hear of no delaying.
Then the house was in a kind of joyful hurry from
morning to night, and Christina spent her days be
tween the shops and her dressmaker, and not even
Sir Thomas could get a glimpse of her until the day's
pleasant labor was over. At first Mrs. Campbell
went -with her daughter on these shopping expedi
tions, and sometimes Isabel accompanied them, but
soon the various demands of the coming event gave
the elder ladies abundant cares, and Christina was
permitted to manage her shopping and fitting as she
thought best. So then she gained daily in self-asser
tion, and soon submitted to no dictation even from
her brother. But Sir Thomas was a lover sure to
make any woman authoritative, for he submitted
gladly to all his mistress's whims, obeyed all her
orders, and grew every hour more and more in
fatuated with his charming Christina. The most
expensive flowers and fruits were sent to her daily,
the Wynton jewels were being reset for her use,
and Wynton Castle elaborately decorated and fur
nished for its new mistress. Christina, indeed, was
now drinking a full cup of long-delayed happiness,
and late as it was, finding the dew of her long-lost

190 A Reconstructed Marriage

Mrs. Campbell shared her daughter's triumphant
satisfaction. To all her kinfolk, married and un
married, male and female, she wrote little notes
brimming with pride and false humility, and ex
patiating on Sir Thomas Wynton's rank, wealth and
power, his handsome person, and his deep devotion
to her daughter; piously trusting that " her dear
child might not be lured from the narrow path of
godliness, in which she had been so carefully

So in these days Christina was busy and happy,
and mistress of all she desired. Yet as the wed
ding-day approached, she became nervous and ir
ritable; she said she was weary to death, and wanted
to sleep for a month. No one cared to cross her
in the smallest matter, though her family devotion
never deserted her. This feeling was strongly ex
emplified about two weeks before the wedding-day,
in a few words said to her brother one evening when
they were alone in the dining-room.

" Robert," she asked, " how near are you to the
hundred thousand you expected? You have paid
me the five hundred pounds promised. I should
like to know if I have earned it. How near are
you to your desire?"

" Near enough."

" Has he signed the papers yet? "

11 No."


" I have not pressed the matter."

" You are foolish. It will be easier to

A Reconstructed Marriage 191

get his signature before we are married, than

" You suspicious woman ! Men keep their word
about money matters, Christina. Don't you know

" No."

" Well, of course you don't. You know nothing
about men."

"You are satisfied, are you?"

" I am perfectly satisfied."

"And sure?"

" And positively sure."

A week later she asked again, though in a jok
ing manner, "if he had secured that signature?"
and Robert answered in a tone of annoyance :

" Do not trouble yourself anent my money mat
ters, Christina."

Then she laughed and said: "When I am Lady
Wynton, I may find many other ways for the
spending of that hundred thousand of lying

" I can trust you," replied Robert. " When you
are Lady Wynton, you will not cease to be Christina
Campbell, and Campbells stand shoulder to shoulder
all the world over."

At these words she gave him her hand, and he
clasped it tightly between his own. No further
words were necessary. Robert knew assuredly that
his sister's influence would always be in his favor,
never against him.

As she left her brother, Mrs. Campbell called her,

192 A Reconstructed Marriage

and with a slight reluctance she went into the
familiar room.

"What is it you want with me, mother?" she
asked, quickly adding, " I am very busy to-day."

" I want to tell you, Christina, that I have had
the small room behind this room prepared for your
trunks. They ought to have been here yesterday.
Are your dresses not finished? It is high time they

" Some are finished, others are not."

" Those that are finished had better be sent here
at once."

There was a moment's pause, and then Christina
said decidedly: " None of my bride things are com
ing here, mother. When they are all in perfect
order they will be sent to my future home."

"To Wynton Castle?"

" Of course. They will be quite safe there."

" Safe! What do you mean, miss? And pray,
why are your bride clothes sent to Wynton Castle,
instead of to Traquair House? I insist on knowing

" Because Traquair House is notoriously unlucky
to bride clothes. Poor Theodora's pretty things
were all ruined by those dreadful Campbelton peo
ple. You said your bride things were treated in
the same way. Very well, I am determined that
none of my trunks shall be broken open and rifled,
and so I am sending them to where they will be
guarded and respected."

" You are acting in a shameful, and most unusual

A Reconstructed Marriage 193

manner, and I command you to send your trunks
here. I will be responsible for their safety."

" Thank you, mother, but I have already made
excellent arrangements for their security."

" I consider your behavior abominable. It is an
outrage on your mother's love and honor."

" Theodora trusted you, and you allowed a lot of
vulgar, unscrupulous women to ransack her trunks,
wear her new dresses dirty, and spoil all they
touched, and carry away with them neckwear and
jewelry they had no right to touch. I will not
give them so much opportunity to injure me. You
ought not to wish me to do so."

" Christina Campbell, your behavior is beyond all
excuse, it is almost beyond all forgiveness. Isabel,
tell your sister her duty."

Then Isabel said in a slow, positive voice: "I
think Christina is right. You know, mother, the
Campbelton people will come to the marriage, and
after Christina has gone, who will be able to restrain
them? Not you. It is quite certain that they
ruined poor Dora's home-coming, and made her
begin her life here, at sixes and sevens."

" Poor Dora! What do you mean?"

" I mean, mother, that the opening of her trunks,
and the use of her clothing was a shameful thing.
I have often said so, and I will always say so."

" Do not dare to say it to me again. I will not
listen to such nonsense, and as for you, Christina
Campbell, you are an ungrateful child, and you are
cocking your head too high, and somewhat too early.

194 d. Reconstructed Marriage

Wait until you are Lady Wynton, before you put
on ladyship airs."

" Look you, mother, once and for all time, my
trunks are not coming near Traquair House. I
am as good as married, and I will not be ordered
about like a child; it is out of the question."

" Dod! but you are full of bouncing, swaggering
words. And what good girl ever sent her bridal
clothes away, without letting her mother see them?
What in heaven and earth will you do next? "

" I shall be delighted, if you will come with me
to Madame Bernard's rooms this morning. I have
asked you frequently to do so. You always re

" I intended to examine them here, at my leisure."

" And as to what I shall do next, you will see
that very shortly. I am very sorry, mother, to
disappoint you, but after I am married you can see
me wearing the dresses, and "

" I do not wish to see them at all now."

" Very well."

" All your life, until lately, you have been a good
obedient daughter; the change in you is the work
of that wicked, wicked woman Dora Newton."

" All my life until lately, I was kept in a state
of nothingness but I am no longer a nonentity. I
have come into a human existence, and you are right,
it is Dora Campbell's doing, and I wish I knew how
to thank her."

" It would be thanking the devil, for teaching you
to sin."

A Reconstructed Marriage 195

" Mother, you are spoiling my day, and I have
a great deal to do. Good-morning, or will you
come with me? "

" I will not come one footstep with you. How
can you expect it? "

At these words Christina left the room, and Mrs.
Campbell began a complaint illustrated by sobs, and
sighs, and intermittent tears. She told Isabel that
all the pleasure she expected from her child's mar
riage had been taken from her. She confessed that
she had spoken a little to many people of the rich
and beautiful presents Christina had received, and
now she would not be able to show one of them;
and no one would believe what she had said and
she could not blame people if they did not. " Oh,
Isabel! " she cried, " for my sake, and for all our
sakes, Christina must send her trunks here for a
week or two. Do try and persuade her. She al
ways listens to you."

" It is quite useless, mother; she has made up her
mind to send them to her new home. I rather
think some have gone there already, for two weeks
ago there were eight trunks at madame's, and last
week I only saw three."

"Why did you not tell me? Oh, why did you
not give me a chance to persuade the cruel, selfish
girl? So wrong! So wicked! So ungrateful!
You know, Isabel, I gave her five hundred pounds
to buy that very clothing I had a right to see it
yes, I had I had and it is shameful ! "

" Mother, you could have gone with Christina to

196 A Reconstructed Marriage

her dressmaker's. You could not expect her to bring
all her things here, they would certainly have been
shown and handled they might have been ill-used
as Dora's pretty clothes were. Oh, mother, I do
not blame Christina at all! I think she acted for
the best."

" So you also are joining the enemy getting New-
tonized like Christina. Do you also hope to be
come a beauty, and a belle, and marry a baronet? "

" Mother, you are throwing sarcasm away. I
have no hopes left for myself. It is too late for
me to develop in any direction."

"Whose fault is that?"

" Destiny's fault, I suppose. I was nursing the
sick, when I ought to have been in school and in

Mrs. Campbell did not answer this reproach.
Destiny was a good enough apology. No one could

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA reconstructed marriage → online text (page 11 of 23)