Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

A reconstructed marriage online

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Christina that day, and he finally went home puzzled,

A Reconstructed Marriage 215

and even anxious, but sure that her unaccountable
absence was the result of some misunderstanding that
would be cleared up when morning came. He in
sisted on the family retiring, but told Jepson to
leave the gas burning, and be ready to open the door
if called upon to do so. Then he also went upstairs,
but sleep was far from him. Theodora appeared
to be asleep, but though her eyes were closed, her
heart was waking. One kind word would have
brought him all the comfort love could give. He
was touched, however, by the sweetness and peace
that brooded over her, and by the calm and restful
atmosphere pervading her room. He stood a mo
ment at the side of the apparently sleeping woman,
but was reluctant perhaps ashamed to awaken her.
David slept in her dressing-room and he went to
the child's cot and looked at the beautiful boy.
When he was asleep, the likeness to his father was
very evident, and Robert noticed it.

" I was once as innocent and as fair as he is. I
must have looked just like him," and sitting down
by a table he held his head in his hands, and thought
of them, and of Christina's delay, listening always
for the carriage, the step, the ring at the door, that
never came.

The next morning the whole family were late and
unrested. Jepson was sorting the mail as Isabel
came downstairs, and she asked anxiously, " What
time is it, Jepson? "

" Nine o'clock, miss. Here is a letter for you,

2i6 A Reconstructed Marriage

She saw at once it was from Christina, and she
took it eagerly, and ran back to her own room with
it. Trembling from head to feet, she broke the
seal and read:


I was married to-day at half-past eleven to Jamie
Rathey. I met him twelve days ago, and we went
into the picture gallery, and sat there all day talking,
and I found out that I loved Jamie, and did not love
Sir Thomas. I promised to marry him, and we
rented a nice floor and furnished it very prettily,
and hired two servants, and so after the marriage
ceremony, went to our own home for lunch. Do
not blame me, Isabel. I have never been happy in
all my life, and I want to be happy, and I shall be
happy with Jamie. I have sent all the gifts Sir
Thomas gave me back, and written him a letter.
He will forgive me, and I know you will. Mother
will forbid you to mention me, and she will never
forgive. I know Robert will feel hurt, but he has
no cause. I begged him to secure the fish that was
on the hook for him, and he would not. I thought
all well over, and I did not see why I should any
longer sacrifice myself for the Campbells. For
twenty-eight years I was miserable child and woman.
Nobody loved me but Jamie. I had nothing other
girls and women had. But I am happy at last!
Happy at last ! Oh, Isabel, be glad for me. I will
write to you every month, but you need not try to
find me out. You could not. You might as well

A Reconstructed Marriage 217

look for a needle in a hay-stack. Dear Isabel, do not
forget me. Your loving sister,


And Isabel cried and wrung her hands and said
softly, but from her very heart, " I am glad, I am
glad ! You did right, Christina ! Yes, you did !
You did ! And Isabel will stand by you till the last.
She will! She will!"

With tears still on her white cheeks, she went down
to the dining-room. Robert and his mother were at
the table, and evidently not on agreeable terms.
" Jepson thought you had a letter from Christina,"
said Mrs. Campbell, " and I am astonished you did
not bring it to us, at once."

" I thought it would be better, to see first what
news it contained."

" Well? Can you not speak? "

Then Isabel put the letter into her mother's hand.

And in a few minutes there was a cry like that
of a woman wounded and crushed to death. With
frantic passion Mrs. Campbell threw the letter at
her son, and then with bitter execrations assailed the
child she accused of killing her.

"Mother, mother! Do be quiet!" pleaded

" She has killed me ! I shall die of shame ! I
shall die ! She has broken my heart ! "

Robert read the letter through, his face growing
darker and darker as he read. When he had fin
ished, he threw it on the fire, and Isabel rushed to

21 8 A Reconstructed Marriage

the grate and rescued it, though it was smoked, and
browned, and mostly illegible. But she clasped its
tinder and ashes in her hands, cried over them, and
finally left the room with the precious relics clasped
to her heart.

" Have you gone crazy too? " called her mother.

" Let her alone ! " said Robert.

" And pray what is the matter with you? "

" I am ashamed of the way you are behaving."

" It is your sister of whom you must be ashamed.
Her disgraceful marriage will kill me."

"It is the result of your own doing, and with

" I am to bear the blame, of counse. Poor
mother! "

" You never gave her any happiness, and when she
got the opportunity she gave it to herself. That
was natural."

" She had all the happiness I had."

" You had your husband, your family, your house,
your servants, and your social duties. You were
quite happy, but none of these things made happiness
for your daughters. They wanted the pleasures of
youth gay company, gay clothing, travel and lovers,
and none of these things you gave them. I was often
very sorry for them."

" Then why did you not help them yourself? "

" Do you remember the year I begged you to
take your daughters to Edinburgh and London, and
offered to pay all expenses, and you would not do it? "

" I did not wish to go to Edinburgh and London."

A Reconstructed Marriage 219

" No, you wanted to go to Campbelton, and so
you made your daughters go with you, though they
hated the place. There Christina met this low fel
low whom she married. She had no other lover.
To the Campbelton rabble you sacrificed my sisters
from their babyhood."

"Robert Campbell! How dare you call my
kindred 'rabble'?"

" The name is good enough. Do you think I
have forgotten how they treated my wife's clothing,
and our rooms? "

" What are you bringing up that old story for? "

" It conies in naturally to-day, and I have not for
gotten it. For your cruelty at that time, you are
rightly served. Christina has avenged Theodora."

He flung the last words at her over his shoulder
as he left the room. She had no opportunity to
answer them, indeed she was not able to do so. It
seemed to her as if she had been stricken dumb from
head to feet; as if her world was being swept away
from her, and she could not protest against it.
Isabel had left her in anger and opposition. Robert
in reproach. As for Christina, she had smitten her
on every side, and gone away without contrition and
without reproof. And Robert's few words had been
keener than a sword, for they were edged with Truth,
and Truth drove them to her very soul.

But she had no thought of surrendering any foot
hold of her position. She only wanted time to con
sider herself, for this solid defection of son and
daughters had come like a cataclysm out of a clear

220 A Reconstructed Marriage

sky, unforeseen, entire, and apparently complete in
its misery. Her first resolve was to go to Theodora,
and have the circumstance " out " with her. But
her limbs were as heavy as her heart, and when with
difficulty she reached the door of the room, she heard
her son talking to his wife. And it had been
brought home to her that morning that Robert could
not be depended on, therefore she must risk no more
uncertain encounters. Theodora alone, she did not
fear; but Theodora and Robert in alliance meant
certain defeat.

So she stumbled back to the sofa and sat down.
Nature ordered her to lie down, but she flatly re
fused. u This is a critical time," she said to herself,
" and Margaret Campbell, there is to be no lying
down. You be to keep on the defensive." But she
rang for Jepson, and told him to tell Miss Campbell
her mother wanted her. In a few minutes Isabel an
swered the summons, and as soon as she entered the
room she cried out, "Oh, mother, mother, mother!
what is the matter? You are ill."

" Ay, Isabel, I am ill, and it would be a miracle
if I were not ill." The words came slowly and with
effort, and Isabel was terrified by her mother's face,
for it was gray as ashes, and had on it an expression
of terror, as if she had looked on Death as he passed
her by.

" Lie down, mother. You ought to lie down."
" Get me a glass a big glass of red Burgundy."
Isabel obeyed, and when she had drunk it, she
said in something of her natural voice and manner,

A Reconstructed Marriage 221

" Burgundy is the strong wine. It is full of iron,
and we require plenty of iron in our blood. In the
common crowd, it goes to their hands, and helps
them to work hard, but in the Campbell clans, it
goes to the hearts of both men and women."

" And makes them hard-hearted."

" Hard to their own, and worse to their foes and
to strangers. Oh, Isabel, Isabel, this is the blackest
day I have ever seen ! What shall we do ? "

" Bear it. Others have borne the like. We can."

" I can never look my friends in the face again."

" Never mind either friends or foes. In nine days
they will have said their say. Let them."

" Yesterday at this hour, I was the proudest and
happiest woman in Glasgow. To-day I am "

" The bravest woman in Glasgow. Defy your
trouble, as you always do. Christina's conduct is
most unusual, and few will understand it they
can't. But, oh mother, stand by your daughter!
Tell every one, that when she found out she loved
Mr. Rathey better than Sir Thomas Wynton, she
did what was honorable and womanly, and that you
admire her truth and sincerity, though of course,
somewhat disappointed. Such words as these will
silence the ill-natured, and satisfy the friendly. You
will say them, mother?"

" Something like them, no doubt."

" And we must find Christina, and you will for
give her, and protect her?"

" I will do no such things."

" It would stop people's tongues."

222 A Reconstructed Marriage

" Their tongues may clash till doomsday, ere I
will stop them that gate. Never name the wicked
woman to me again. I do not know her any more,
and I do not want to know, whether she is living or
dead, in plenty or /poverty, sick or well, happy or
miserable. She is out o' this world, as far as I
am concerned. Sure!"

"What did Robert say?"

" Threw the whole blame on mysel' evil be to


" Yes, evil be to the son who condemns his mother,
whether she be right or wrong."

" He will not get Sir Thomas to invest money
in the works now, I fear. That will trouble

" Weel ! The Campbell furnaces have kept blaz
ing so far, without Wynton siller to help them, and
their fires willna go out for the want o' it."

" I wonder how Sir Thomas will take his dis

" It is untelling how any man will take anything.
You couldna speculate as to how Robert Campbell
would take a plate o' parritch; he might like them,
and he might send them to the Back o' Beyond. All
men are made that way, and we poor women can
only put up wi' their tempers and tantrums. God
help us ! "

At this moment Jepson entered with a basket filled
with moss and purple pansies. A card was attached
bearing the following message:

A Reconstructed Marriage 223

" Sir Thomas Wynton sends sincere sympathy,
and kind regards to Mrs. and Miss Campbell. He
will not intrude on their grief at present, but will
call in a few days."

Isabel laid her face against the flowers, Mrs.
Campbell read the card with pleasure, and a slight
flush of color came back to her cheeks.

" This bit of card will give me the upper hand of
a' the clashing jades, who come here wondering and
sighing, and doubting and fearing. I shall shake
it in their faces, and bid them tak' notice that Sir
Thomas Wynton is still in the family as it were.
And I shall make one other observe anent the mar
riage failure, that Sir Thomas will take as personal,
any and all unpleasant remarks concerning the

" When Sir Thomas pays his visit "

" You be to see that Dora is present. The crea
ture has a wonderful way o' saying consoling words.
I hae noticed that all men find her pleasant and
satisfactory. She has the trick o' speaking just
what they want to hear the jade ! "

" Do speak decently of Dora, mother. She is
Robert's wife."

" More's the pity. God help the poor man!
Little pleasure he has wi' her."

" It is not her fault."

"I see how it is she will lead you wrong next."

" No one can lead me wrong. I wonder if Sir
Thomas went to see Robert to-day."

224 A Reconstructed Marriage

" I think Robert would go and see him. We
may wonder all day, but we will know, when Robert
comes home; that is, if his temper will let him talk.
Dod! but he is a true Campbell flesh, blood, and

" When Robert was in love with Dora, love made
him a kind, good-tempered man."

" Kind men are not profitable in a house ; they
give where they ought to grip; and it is a sma'
share o' this world you will get wi' good temper.
You be to threep, and threaten for what you want,
and the fires in the furnaces would soon burn low, if
there was a kind, good-tempered man watching o'er

" Now you are talking like yourself, mother. You
will soon put your trouble under your feet."

" Weel, I am not going to sit down on the ash-
heap wi' it, as the parfect man o' Uz did if there
ever was such a man which I am doubting; all
the mair, because nobody I ever heard of could tell
me in what country on the face o' the globe a place
called Uz might be found. If there isna a place
called Uz, it is mair than likely there never was a
man called Job."

11 The Bible says there was."

" Ay, in a parable. The Bible is aye ready to
drop into a parable."

" Mother, if you would try and sleep now."

" I will not. I would get sick if I did. I am
on watch at present, for I am not up to mark, and
I will not gie sickness the fine opportunity o' sleep.

A Reconstructed Marriage 22$

If Robert comes hame reasonable, I'll have my talk
out wi' him. I am not going to suffer his contradic
tions, not if I know it."

Fortunately Robert came home early, and was in
a civil and communicative mood. He said " he had
been to see Sir Thomas, and had been treated in the
most considerate manner."

"What did he say about Christina?" asked Isa
bel timidly.

" He would hear no wrong of her. He said
she had written him a beautiful letter, a most honor
able letter, a letter he would prize to his dying hour.
He thought she had done right, both for herself
and him. He told me she had returned all his gifts,
and he had directed the jeweler to hold them for her
further orders. He thinks she will be sure to call
there, in order to find out if they have been given
to him, and he has left a note with the jewels, beg
ging her to keep them as a sign of their friendship,
and a reminder of the pleasant hours they have spent
together. A most unusual and gentlemanly way of
looking at things, I must say."

" Will he take a share in the works now? " asked
Mrs. Campbell.

" I do not know. He is going abroad as soon
as he has rearranged his affairs. He said he would
call on you in a few days."

" He sent us some lovely flowers," said Isabel.

" He is a most wasteful man."

" He sent mother and me pansies in a lovely bas
ket lined with moss; they were to say for him he

226 A Reconstructed Marriage

would ' remember ' us. And he sent Dora the same
basket, filled with white hyacinths. Oh, how sweet
they were ! "

" And what did they say? "

" I looked for their meaning, and found it was
' unobtrusive loveliness.' You see Dora rarely came
into the parlor, when he called."

" That may be so, but he had no business to notice
her absence. ' Unobtrusive ' indeed, and ' loveli
ness.' Some men don't know when they go too

" He meant all in kindness," said Mrs. Campbell,
" and I hope he will call."

Sir Thomas kept his promise. Three days after
Christina had so mercilessly jilted him, he called
on her mother and sister. But by this time he had
taken a still more exalted view of his false love's
conduct. He told Mrs. Campbell, that it was not
sympathy, but congratulations, that were due her.
Was she not the proud mother of a noble daughter,
whom neither rank nor wealth could lure from the
paths of truth and honor? Of a daughter who held
love as beyond price, and who would not wrong
either his or her own heart. He waxed eloquent
on this subject, and was tearful over the lost treasure
of her noble daughter's affection. And Mrs. Camp
bell smiled grimly, and wondered " if he really
thought she was silly enough to believe he believed
in any such balderdash."

Isabel certainly believed in him with all her heart,
and was never weary of his chivalrous, exalted plati-

A Reconstructed Marriage 227

tudes; and like all men in love trouble, Sir Thomas
was never weary of talking of his wounded heart,
and lost bride. So Isabel quickly became his favor
ite confidant. She listened patiently and with evi
dent interest; she helped him to praise Christina,
and when he got to wiping his eyes, Isabel was ready
to weep with him.

In a couple of weeks he began to talk of his in
tended travel, and on this subject Isabel was sin
cerely inquisitive and enthusiastic. The strongest
desire of her heart was to travel in strange coun
tries, and she asked so many questions about the
trip Sir Thomas proposed taking, that he brought
his maps and guidebooks, and showed her his route
down the Mediterranean to Greece, up the Adriatic
to Montenegro and Herzegovina, over the Dalma
tian mountains, through Austria and Hungary to
Buda-Pesth, northward to Prague, Berlin, and Ham
burg, into the Baltic, and so by Zealand and the
Skager Rack across the North Sea to England again.
Oh, what a heaven it opened up to the reserved,
solitary woman !

It was impossible for Isabel to hide her delight,
and so when this trip had been thoroughly talked
over, he came one wet afternoon with the books and
maps explanatory of his last journey, which had been
altogether on the American continent. He showed
her where he had hunted big game in the forests
of the Hudson Bay Company, and he described to
her the old cities of French Canada. Many after
noons were spent in talking about New York, Chi-

228 A Reconstructed Marriage

cago, St. Louis, San Francisco, and the wonders of
California, Alaska, and Texas. Finally, he carried
her to Brazil and Cuba, to the West Indies and
to the beautiful Bermudas.

In these parlor wanderings, she lived a life far,
far apart from the wet, dull streets of Glasgow,
and the monotonous ennui and strife of Traquair
House; besides which advantage, both Sir Thomas
and herself lost in such pleasant loiterings the first
sore pangs of their bereaved hearts. For obvious
reasons, both Robert and Mrs. Campbell tolerated
these to them tiresome recollections. Robert
considered the baronet yet as a possible business con
tingent; and Mrs. Campbell silenced all doubtful
sympathizers with remarks about his friendship, and
his constant visits. One Sabbath she managed affairs
so cleverly, that he even went to Dr. Robertson's
church, sat in their pew, and returned home to dine
with them. The next day he started on his two
years' travel, promising to write Isabel descriptions
of all the wonderfuls he saw.

On the night of the same day, Robert called to
gether the women of his household and in the blunt
est words told them the strictest economy was hence
forward to be observed. He said the wastrie of
the past three or four months was unbelievable, and
it had to be made up by a steady curtailment of all
household expenses. Then turning to his mother
he asked, " in what direction she thought it best
to begin?"

She answered promptly : " You are right, Robert.

A Reconstructed Marriage 229

The expenses of the house have been very extrava
gant, and retrenchment is both wise and necessary.
I think in the first place we ought to reduce the
number of servants. One man can be spared from
the stable, and the second man in the house is not
a necessity. McNab must do with one kitchen girl,
instead of two; and your son no longer needs a
nurse. A boy of his age ought to wait on himself."

" David has not needed a nurse for a long time."

"Who did you say?"

" David."

" I ordered you not to call the boy by that name,
in my presence."

" It is his baptismal name. He has no other

" Call him Nebuchadnezzar, or Satan, or any
name you like in your own room, but in my pres
ence "

" His name is always David. I was going to
remind you that Ducie has been a general servant
in the house for many months. She has assisted
your chambermaid, helped McNab in the kitchen,
and Jepson about the table. I think she has been
the most effective maid in the house."

" She may have been chambermaid, cook, and
butler rolled into one, but she is not wanted here,
and the sooner she finds her way back to Kendal
the better every one will like it."

Then Theodora quietly gathered the silks with
which she was working, and without noise or hurry
left the room. She heard her mother-in-law's scorn-

230 A Reconstructed Marriage

ful laugh, and her husband's angry voice as she
closed the door, but she allowed neither to detain
her in an atmosphere so highly charged with hatred
and opposition.

In about an hour Robert strode into her parlor,
and with a lowering face and peevish voice asked:
" Why did you go away? "

" There was no further reason for my presence,
and more than one reason why it was better for me
to go away."

"It is evident you feel no interest in the cur
tailment of my expenses."

" I am sure that curtailment is not necessary. You
gave your shareholders a dividend of ten-per-cent a
short time ago, and you are always complaining that
the business is too large for you to carry alone.
And I do not see that there is the smallest curtail
ment in your personal expenses."

" Pray what have you to do with my personal
expenses ? "

" I speak of them because I personally have no
expenses from which to draw conclusions."

" I suppose you have as many personal expenses
as any other woman. My mother thinks you have

" Your mother grudges me the little food I eat.
How much money have you given me during the
six years I have been your wife? "

" I have paid all your bills."

"What kind of bills?"

" All kinds."

A Reconstructed Marriage 231

" No. You have paid for a physician when I
was sick nothing else. I have bought little new
clothing, and what I have bought I paid for."

" You did not require new clothing."

" When it was to renew and alter, I paid all
expenses with my own money."

" You! You have no money! All the money
you have is mine. I have allowed you to use it for
your personal expenses. Many husbands would not
have done so."

" It was my money, Robert. I made it before
I even knew your name."

" It was all my money the moment you were my

" It is all gone now. I had to borrow a sovereign
from Ducie."

"Good gracious! What an absurdity! What
did you want with a sovereign? You have credit
in half-a-dozen shops."

" I wanted money, not credit. I cannot buy
stamps, stationery, music, medicine, and many other
things with credit. And the church wants cash
always. I cannot pay church dues with credit.
When I borrowed a sovereign from Ducie I wanted
a prescription of Dr. Fleming's made up."

" You have credit at Starkie's."

" Starkie does not make up prescriptions. I had
to send to Eraser's and I have no credit at Fraser's."

Then he threw a sovereign on the table and said:
" Pay Ducie at once. I do not want her chattering
all over Glasgow and Kendal."

232 A Reconstructed Marriage

" So you have decided to send Ducie away? "

" Yes."

" She is all that is left me of my old happy
life. Oh, Robert, Robert! have some pity on

" My mother and sister are giving up three
servants. Surely you can relinquish one."

" It is Scot in the stable, who gives up his helper.
It is Jepson in the house, it is McNab in the kitchen.
None of these three servants affect your mother's
and sister's comfort in the least. Ducie is every
thing to David and myself. She keeps our rooms
clean and comfortable, brings my breakfast, waits
on me when I am sick, walks out with David when
I am not able to do so, and in many other ways
makes things more bearable. I beg you, Robert, not
to send her away."

" Then the other three servants must also re

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA reconstructed marriage → online text (page 13 of 23)