Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

A reconstructed marriage online

. (page 15 of 23)
Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA reconstructed marriage → online text (page 15 of 23)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

foreign parts, and that he took her out frequently,
and gave her many presents. And she looked into
her brother-in-law's face for some trace of his re
lationship, but could find none. David Campbell
was more Celt than Gael, he was tall and slender,
had a gentle voice and a manner that could only
come from a good heart. His whole appearance
was aquiline and American, and he was dressed in
the loose, easy style of a citizen of the great Western
Republic. After a most critical survey, Theodora
was ready to confess, that his visits to McNab were
perfectly safe from detection.

" I have sat with the servants in the kitchen, have
eaten with them, and heard all they could tell me

A Reconstructed Marriage 251

of your life, Theodora ; and now I am at your service
with all my heart."

" Then tell me what to do."

" First, let me go and see your father and mother.
Your father will give us good advice, and we will
not move till we get it unless some desperate cause

" Thank you. That is what I wish."

" Give me their address."

" I am sorry "

" Say nothing, I entreat you ! I have no other
duty in Glasgow, but to look after you, and my
splendid little namesake. And I assure you, if I
saw any other way of bringing my dear brother to
his senses, I would try it first. But not until Robert
has lost you, will he find out what you really are
to him."

" Have you seen your brother? "

" Many a time. I have even spoken to him, but
he has no recollection of me. He cannot, for he
seldom saw me. I should not have known him if
I had met him anywhere but in the Campbell iron
works. He is a hard master to his men."

" But there is another Robert, I assure you, a
Robert I only know or used to know. He was a
noble, generous man, a man I loved with all my

" I believe you, and that lost Robert only wants
proper surroundings to give him a chance. See!
We are going to educate that other Robert. I love
my brother, Theodora, and we will work together

252 A Reconstructed Marriage

to make him happy in spite of himself, and the other
evil powers that now hold him in thrall."

" O, thank you ! Thank you, David ! I never
had a brother, but have often longed for one. You
are a true Godsend to me."

" With God's help I will be ! Your father's home
is in Bradford?"

' Yes, he lives in Hanover Square, Bradford.
Any one will tell you where the Rev. John Newton

" I will leave by to-night's train. I will tell them
all for McNab has told me all and your father
will send his advice back by me."

With this comfort in her heart Theodora did not
feel afraid, though she had stayed until the night
had fallen. Mr. Oliphant took her home in his
carriage, and Robert was compelled to thank him
for his courtesy; but he followed his wife into their
parlor with a dark countenance, and asked her an
grily, " why she put herself under obligations to
people like the Oliphants?"

" Are there any objections to the Oliphants? " she

" My mother has never trusted them, never. And
you know this."

" Your mother trusts no one."

"Where is Ducie?"

" She is attending to David's supper."

"Call her!"

"Will not a little later do?"

" No, I want her now."

A Reconstructed Marriage 253

" Ring the bell, then."

He looked astonished at the order, but he obeyed
it. Theodora had sat down. Her face was sad
and stern, and her eyes flashed so angrily he did not
care to encounter them.

In a few minutes Ducie appeared. She came in
smiling and curtsied to her master when he said:


"Yes, sir."

" You were told to leave this house forever, at
half-past three this afternoon. Why have you not
done so? "

'' The party who told me was not my mistress."

"Am I your master?"

" I suppose so."

" Then listen to me. Here is your quarter's wage.
As you are a young girl, I will not send you to the
street now that it is dark. You may stay until eight
o'clock to-morrow morning. Then you will go."

" I shall go to-night, sir. I will not take a favor
from you, though I have done this house many

" Robert, Robert ! " cried Theodora, " consider
what you are doing. Ducie, do not go away yet
for David's sake let me keep Ducie, Robert."

" David will go to school in the autumn. He
wants no nurse."

" Then let her stop until autumn. Robert, dear
Robert, I entreat you that I may keep Ducie."

" After her impertinence to my mother, it is im
possible. You ought to feel that."

254 A Reconstructed Marriage

" Oh dear, oh dear! " Theodora covered her
face with her hands, and burst into passionate weep

Immediately Ducie was at her side comforting her.
" Don't, ma'am. Please don't cry. Ducie knows it
is not your fault."

Then Theodora unfastened the brooch at her
throat and drew a ring from her finger.

" Take them, dear," she said. " We ought
to pay you for three months' extra work, but I have
no money. You know that, Ducie. Take these in
stead. Keep them for my sake, dear. Oh Ducie,
Ducie! you are my only friend here, and they are
sending you away. My God, my dear God, have
pity on me ! "

She spoke rapidly in a transport of sorrowful feel
ing; she forced the trinkets into Ducie's hand, and
walking with her to the door, kissed her there; then
sobbing like a little child, she fell upon the sofa in
hopeless distress.

" What folly! " cried Robert. " Who would be
lieve all this fuss was about a common servant girl
a disobedient, insolent servant girl. Why did she
not obey my mother's order? "

Then Theodora rose to her feet. She put
tears away, and answered proudly: "Because
I was her mistress, and I told her to come with


"You told her to disobey my mother?"
" Yes. Your mother dismissed her without my
permission. Suppose I had called your mother's

A Reconstructed Marriage 255

chambermaid, and ordered her to leave the house
the cases are precisely the same."

" Not at all; mother is mistress and housekeeper.
When she ordered Ducie to leave, that was quite

" Do you expect me to obey your mother's or

" I obey her orders."

" If they were kind and just orders, I would do
all I could to meet them; when they are unjust and
tyrannical, I will not obey them. I will be a partner
in none of her sins and cruelties; I know a better
way, if she does not. And I must have a maid,

" I will tell mother to hire one for you. But
we shall have no more English girls, so do not expect
what you will not get."

" Would any English girl want to come to Glas
gow, for the sake of Glasgow? That is a difficult
thing to imagine."

" And I do not approve of you giving valuable
jewelry away."

" It was my very own. I had it long before I
saw you."

" It was scandalous of Ducie to accept it. She
ought not to be allowed to carry it away. You were
not responsible when you gave it."

" And if it is scandalous for Ducie, my friend, to
take a gift of my jewelry from my hands, what
about the Campbelton women, who broke open my
trunk, and took out of its case my class ring of dia-

256 A Reconstructed Marriage

monds and sapphires, worth eighty pounds; a ring
my class paid for, and gave me. You promised me
it should be returned. It never has been. Do you
pretend that ring was yours? And is everything I
possess yours ? And do you permit your kindred to
help themselves to whatever of mine they choose to
appropriate? "

" You possess nothing the hair on your head is
mine. I can sell it if I choose. Your wedding ring
is mine."

" I believe nothing of the kind. It is incredible."

" It is the law of England."

" You ought to have told me those things before
I was married. I was beguiled into slavery. Why
are girls in school not taught such things, if, indeed,
they are true? "

" It is the law of England. Any lawyer will tell
you so."

" Then it is contrary to the law of the Holy and
Just One, and I will never acknowledge its right.
I say, and shall always say, my class ring was stolen ;
and that the person who took it was, and is, a thief.
The law may give you my clothing and ornaments,
and your mother, assuming your things to be hers,
may give them away; and you may call it lawful,
but justice and equity would soon dispose of that
legal fiction. I shall always deny it. To falter in
doing so, would be sin."

In uttering these words she became a Theodora
he had never before seen. Her beauty was trium
phant over both her anger and her sorrow. Her

A Reconstructed Marriage 257

splendid eyes stabbed him with their scornful glances ;
her air and attitude was regal as that of Justice her
self, and her words went home like javelins. Men
tally and spiritually, he cowered before her.

So he took out his watch and said: "Dinner is

" I want no dinner."

He answered, " Very well," but there was the look
in his eyes of a man who knows he is defrauding
his own soul. And though at that moment he un
derstood his mother's hatred of her, and believed
that he himself hated her, yet even then, at the root
of his hate, there lay a secret, ardent thirst for her



IT is not by grand or romantic events, that life is
usually shaped; the most trivial things are the min
isters of Destiny, but no matter how insignificant
they may appear, they bring with them a sense of
fatality not to be put away. When the great drama
tist would make Othello murder Desdemona, he did
not choose as a cause the loss of some priceless neck
lace, or a diamond ornament, he knew intuitively
that such a simple thing as a pocket handkerchief
would be more natural.

So in Theodora's case, the everyday occurrence
of a quarrel with a servant girl was the culmination
of years full of far more cogent reasons, for her
final decision to abandon a life which she was unable
to manage. But when Robert went to his dinner,
and left her alone to struggle with a defeat and
a loss she felt so keenly she came to this positive
conclusion. In that hour her life was brought to
the fine point of a single word. " Yes " or " No,"
which was it to be? Would she accept for herself
and her child the wretched life she had unknowingly
chosen? Or, would she abandon it, and seek some
happier environment? And after half-an-hour's in
tense thought and feeling, she stood erect, and, clasp-


A Reconstructed Marriage 259

ing her hands, uttered an emphatic " Yes ! " Even
at that hour, her messenger was on his way to con
sult her parents, and she had little doubt as to their
decision. She believed they would bid her " Go in
God's name "; and fortified by that order, she would
follow the advice David Campbell gave her. He
knew the United States well, and it was a wonderful
thing, he should have come home in this time of
her trouble. Surely he had been sent for her help
and direction.

She expected no word from her parents for about
four days, but a ray of hope had penetrated the
gloom of her surroundings; and wrong and unkind-
ness took on a transient character. They were now
merely passing annoyances, she would have gone be
yond their power in a few weeks at the most. She
resolved to make no more efforts to obtain justice,
no more efforts to win a man whom neither love nor
entreaties could prevent acting after his kind. She
would now permit him to lay up grievances, with
which to wound himself when he could no longer
wound her. A sense of peace, coming from her
acceptance of destiny, gave to her a singular calm
ness of manner and countenance, and a renewed alert
ness of mind, and mental lucidity.

In the morning Ducie, wearing her hat and cloak,
served her late mistress and little David with their
breakfast; then the three parted forever. David
cried bitterly; the women had no tears left. In
half-an-hour McNab came to remove the tray.

" I would leave your room as it is, ma'am," she

260 A Reconstructed Marriage

said. " It will be seen to. Tak' my advice, and
dinna lift a finger to it. YourseF and Master David
will be getting your breakfast ten minutes earlier,
for I am going to look after that bit business mysel'.
You needna fret a moment anent the matter. It's

"I do not intend to fret about anything, Mc-

" That's right. It is a lang lane that has no turn
ing. You are coming to the turning, I think."

" I think so."

" But I wouldn't let on I saw it."

" Neither by look, nor word."

" That's right, too. If wanted, call McNab, but
be sparing o' calls there is both watcher and list
ener. I'm telling you."

" I know."

Theodora smiled understandingly, and McNab
left the room, but left behind her a strong sense of
guardianship and love. Yet just then McNab was
rather in the dark, for her foster-son had not had
time to tell her of his journey to Yorkshire. But
uncertainty did not dash McNab, she had one of
those blessed dispositions that are always sure no
news is good news; and who always expect the
" something " that may have happened, to be some
thing wonderfully auspicious.

" Perhaps my lad had a word with her yesterday,"
she thought, " and perhaps he is making a move
for he wouldn't move without her word. I dare
say that is just wkat has happened." She satisfied

A Reconstructed Marriage 261

herself with this belief, and to the hopeful and cheer
ful, good angels send their heart's desire.

So Theodora sat still and let the house go on.
Not until she was dressing for dinner did a maid
come to attend to her rooms, but she made no re
mark. A short time afterwards, the girl returned
with a letter and the information, that it had been
opened by Mrs. Campbell through mistake. It was
from Theodora's publisher, and purported to contain
a check for seventy pounds and fifteen shillings for
royalties due her. But the check was not in the
letter. Her heart beat wildly, her cheeks burned,
she rose as if to go and inquire for it; but on second
thoughts she sat down and waited until Robert came
into the room. Then she showed him the letter.
He barely glanced at it, then threw it on the table.

" Will you ask your mother for my money,
Robert? I want to buy David and myself some
necessary clothing."

" I have the check."

" Give it to me, Robert. I need it so much."

" I put it in my pocket-book, because it is mine.
I give it to you, because I choose to give it to you.
Most husbands would not do so."

" You need not at every opportunity tell me that
I have no rights, and no money, even if I myself
have earned the money. One telling of such awful
injustice is enough. I wish to know if my letters
are also yours? "

" If I choose to claim them, they are mine."

" Are they also free to your mother? "

262 A Reconstructed Marriage

" If I choose to make them so."

" Then I will do without letters."
4 You can please yourself."

She did not answer, and he went into the dining-
room. In a short time she steadied herself suffi
ciently to follow him, but no one but Isabel took
the slightest notice of her. Mrs. Campbell was in
high spirits, and talked with her son in a jocular
way about some event of which Theodora was igno
rant. Jepson watched her plate and saw that she
was attended to, and Isabel showed her disapproval
of her mother's and brother's behavior by a sullen
silence. For she was slow-minded, and could think
of no way to express her sympathy with Theodora,
except sulking at those who were annoying her. But
she rose from the table when Theodora rose, and
when Theodora said " Good-night, Isabel," she an
swered: " I should like to come into your parlor for
a few minutes if agreeable."

" You are very welcome, Isabel."

" Thank you. I only wanted to say, that I had
nothing to do with the opening of your letter. I
would no more open your letter, than I would pick
your pocket."

" I am sure of that, Isabel. I wish you were my
friend. I am very lonely since Christina went away.
Have you heard from her? "

" Not one word. I am very lonely too. Good

And Theodora thought until sleep came of the
girl's sad face, and pitied her more than she pitied

A Reconstructed Marriage 263

herself. For hope was building a new life in her
heart, and she looked forward to a future, that in
its freedom, beauty, and usefulness would atone for
the present, and the past years of her married life;
but, oh the sameness, and ennui, and moral and
mental death of a life without aim or purpose, with
out love or expectations, or sensible work to do.

Early on the fourth day Mrs. Oliphant called,
and brought Theodora a letter. She professedly
came to ask Theodora to drive with her, and when
her invitation was declined, did not remain many
minutes. But Mrs. Campbell watched her coming
and going, and made plenty of sarcastic remarks
about both the lady and her dress, her carriage and
her horses and servants. Isabel was scarcely con
scious of them. Since the loss of her sister she had
become still more severe, intense, and reticent; besides
which, though no one suspected the movement, Isa
bel was considering a break in social custom, un
dreamed of by the severely proper maidens of her

It related to Sir Thomas Wynton. She had had
a letter from him describing his journey to Paris, and
his present life in that city, and he had asked Isabel
to write him " all the news she could gather about
Wynton village, and their friends in Glasgow, and
to add also anything social, political, or religious
she thought would interest him." And this request
had opened up a pleasant prospect of collecting and
arranging all the news she could glean from people,
or from newspapers, and then writing the result to

264 A Reconstructed Marriage

Sir Thomas. It was a wild, a daring thing for
Isabel Campbell to attempt, but she had resolved to
ask no one's advice about the right or the wrong of
it. She would decide the matter for herself, and
she was trying to do so while her mother was mock
ing at Mrs. Oliphant's dress and general appear

Meantime Theodora watched her friend away,
and then went into her parlor, locking the door after
closing it. David was busy with his slate and pencil
in the music room, and she locked the door of that
room also. Then she sat down with her letter in
her hand, and after a moment's uplifting of her
heart, she opened it and read the following words:

"Mv DEAR THEODORA: Your mother and I
have thoroughly considered all your good brother-in-
law has told us. I will not dwell on our surprise
and sorrow. I will but say, that you ought to put an
end at once to a life which is dwarfing you on every
side, and must be fast ruining your husband's better
nature. For the cruelty and injustice done at first
reluctantly has evidently become to him a necessary
alternative to the dreariness of his business life. As
some men find amusement in badgering and baiting
animals, he apparently satisfies the same brutal in
stinct by baiting a wife whom our cruel laws has
placed in his absolute power. I counsel you to
leave him before conditions are worse, and some
tragedy results. Take David Campbell's advice as
to the locality where you may dwell in peace and

A Reconstructed Marriage 265

safety. I approve what he has proposed to us so
entirely, that whenever you are ready to move, your
mother and I will go with you, though it should be
to the ends of the earth. Think a moment, and you
will understand that you must go with us, and not
with your brother-in-law. I shall write to the Chair
man of Conference to-day and resign my pastorate,
and you know a Methodist preacher and his wife
can move almost at a day's notice. Our clothing
is all we personally own. My future is prepared
for. There is nothing to fear. The Great Com
panion will go with us. Wherever your new home
is made, our home will be made, and we will pray
together for the man you still love. He will return
to you " clothed and in his right mind." Do not
doubt. Go away and rest your aching heart. Has
the sun of your love set? Some blessing lies in
the night; do not fear the darkness. Rest, and the
sun of love will rise again. I append a few reasons
why you should at this crisis leave your husband.
If you are fully satisfied in your own mind, you can
neglect them.

" i st. Habit reconciles us to much suffering, but
a miserable marriage is a trial no one has any busi
ness to have. It is without excuse, and therefore
without comfort. Submission to evils God ordains
is the height of energy and nobility; submission to
the mistakes we ourselves make is the climax of
weakness and cowardice. If two cannot live to
gether in peace, they had better separate than cause
each other to sin every day.

266 A Reconstructed Marriage

" 2d. If you know you are on a wrong road, leave
it; a wrong road cannot lead you right.

" 3d. If you are sick, and the surgeon's knife is
necessary, do not waste time with drugs and seda
tives. Accept the knife as restorative.

" 4th. If you make a mistake of any kind, it is
your manifest duty to rectify it, or to spring out of
its shadow; and an unhappy marriage is the most
pathetic of all mistakes. If, however, you have
made an unhappy marriage, why should you give
permanency to wrong, and finality to suffering?
There are no elements of reformation in the irrevoca
ble, it is a hell without hope and without energy.

" 5th. You must not judge your position near the
twentieth century by the laws of Moses. The Church
has gone back to them for authority to burn witches,
and buy and sell slaves, and collect tithes, etc. We
are come unto Bethlehem, and are not under the laws
of Sinai. The laws of England are cruel enough
to wives ; there is no need to go back to Leviticus.

" 6th. Christ truly said, ' What God has joined
together, let no man put asunder.' What God joins
together, no man can put asunder. Poverty, sorrow,
care, shame, helplessness only draw the bond tighter.
They go to the grave together, and with a noble
constancy look across the grave to an immortal com

" I dare say, my dear daughter, you have thought
of all these things; think now of what good you
can do each other by separation:

" i st. Robert is under wrong influences, while you

A Reconstructed Marriage 267

are present to provoke them. Day by day he is
learning to be more and more cruel. But when he
has lost you, he will remember your sweetness and
goodness, and long for you,

' For we never know the worth of a thing,
Until we have thrown it away!

" 2d. That evil old woman is growing constantly
in all malice, cruelty, and sin. Be no longer an
occasion for her wickedness.

" 3d. You yourself are wasting your life in Doubt
ing Castle. Hopeful found the key of it in his
breast. Do likewise. You ought to be in the very
height and glory of your existence. You are doing
nothing, learning nothing, losing everything. Make
a change; you cannot make it too quickly. It will
probably ploughshare and harrow your heart, as the
farmer ploughshares and harrows the field; but after
this preparation, you can sow the seeds of your future
happiness. Now all seed sowing is a mystery,
whether in the heart, or in the field, but sow in love
and in faith, and the harvest will truly better all
your expectations. Think well over your move
ments, but do not think till you cannot act. Begin
at once to prepare for what must be done, keeping
in mind the good motto of the Eighty-seventh Regi
ment: ' Clear the Way! ' sweep every fear and doubt
out of it, all encumbrances of body or mind. Carry
no old grudges or offences with you, no sad mem
ories. Step out into the new way with a trusting,

268 A Reconstructed Marriage

cheerful, childlike spirit, and be sure and take the
Great Companion with you. Mother will write you
to-morrow. Your loving parents,


This letter " cleared the way," for Theodora, and
with the daring decision of fresh young faculties, she
grasped the whole position confidently. She saw
that she must, for the present, give up her husband
it was absolutely necessary and remedial. But she
also saw a future with him that should redeem the
whole unhappy past. She saw it, because from her
long trial she had brought a three-edged spirit,
tempered and polished by the fires of many afflictions ;
and an Inner Woman perfect no member wanting,
none sick or disabled, an Inner Woman full-grown,
ready for any emergency, with time for everything
human. She had also been much encouraged and
strengthened by her father's prompt preparation, and.
she told herself, as she carefully destroyed the letter,
that as the thing was to do, it were well to do it as
soon as possible.

As if to urge her to this finality, her home became

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 15 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA reconstructed marriage → online text (page 15 of 23)