Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

A reconstructed marriage online

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still more uncomfortable after Ducie's departure.
Day after day passed, but no girl was hired in
Ducie's place, and Mrs. Campbell's chambermaid
never reached Theodora's rooms, until it was time
for her to dress for dinner. Indeed, it appeared
as if the girl had been ordered to wait until her
presence would be the most annoying. And in a few
days, the question of breakfast became a serious one.

A Reconstructed Marriage 269

One morning Mrs. Campbell met McNab on the
stairway with the tray containing Theodora's and
David's breakfast in her hands. She looked angrily
at the woman, and said in slow, positive words:

" Take that tray back to the kitchen! "

" It is Mrs. Campbell's and Master David's

" Mrs. Robert can come to the breakfast table,
as well as I can."

" And whar will Master David eat his mouthful?
You hae said peremptor, he shallna eat at your

" He can eat with you he can eat anywhere or
nowhere, for aught I care."

" Na, na ! He will be Campbell o' the Campbell
Iron Works yet, and he is beyond eating wi' serving-
men and lasses. I will just tak' the tray up this
morning, for my arms are aching wi' the weight o'

" You will just take the tray to the kitchen."

" That is the last order you will gie Flora Mc
Nab, ma'am."

"Your threat is an old one, McNab; I'm not
fearing it."

" Nor me expecting you to be feared. When you
dinna fear God Almighty, why would you be fearing
the like o' me? Out o' the way then, and let me
by you wi' the tray."

Very uncomfortable was the family breakfast that
morning. Something was the matter with Jepson.
Every dish was cold, and is there any food nastier

270 A Reconstructed Marriage

than cold porridge and cold boiled fish? Robert
grumbled over his plates, and Mrs. Campbell was
equally cross, and still more explanatory of her tem
per. About the middle of the meal, McNab en
tered the room in her church bonnet, and her double
Paisley shawl, pinned with its large Cairngorm
brooch. Robert looked at her in amazement, and
with a laugh that was not a pleasant one, asked:

; ' Where are you going, McNab, so early in the
morning? "

" Back to the Hielands, sir. Pay me my wage,
and I'll be awa' in time for the Perth train."
' You are not going to leave us? "

" That is just what I am going to do."


" I'm not going to stop in this house, and see your
wife and bonnie bairn starved for food. The poor
bit laddie is crying the now, for his bread and milk,
and your mother wi' the hard heart o' her willna
let me gie either the bairn, or his mother a mouthf u' ;
so I am going back to the Hielands whar folks hae
hearts and Jepson is going likewise, and the twa
lasses are going. Pay me my honest wages, Maister
Campbell, for I'm in a hurry to get out o' hearing
o' the starving baby, crying for his bowl o' milk."

" That will do, McNab. The Perth train does
not leave until eleven o'clock. Go into the library,
I want to speak to you, and take Jepson and the two
girls there. I will come in a few minutes." He
was obeyed without a word, for he spoke with that
tone and manner which compelled even the leather-

A Reconstructed Marriage 271

dressed, leather-masked men who fed his furnaces to
cower before him.

When McNab and Jepson had left the room he
turned to his mother and asked: " Am I to pay them,
and send them away? "

" That would be unspeakable foolishness. I can
not possibly do without McNab and Jepson. The
two other hizzies can go if they want to."

" Then why do you meddle with McNab ? "

" It is not her business to wait on your wife and

" Then whose business is it? "

" No one's, at present."

" Then see you find some one to-day whose busi
ness it will be to wait on them. If you do not, I
will take my wife and child myself to the Victoria

" I am fairly worn out with the quarrelling and
trouble your wife and child make in the house.
There is no pleasuring either of them. I have sent
two girls to her, and she wouldn't give house-room
to one, nor the other decent girls, as I could find."

" One of them was drunk when she called, and
the other had never cleaned a parlor, or made a bed
in her life. It was kitchen work she wanted; and
she spoke Gaelic better than English. See that a
proper girl is hired to-day. It is an outrageous
thing, to set me to sorting your servant girls' wrongs.
I shall tell McNab to serve my wife and child, until
a proper maid is found for them."

But such disputes as this, common as they were

272 A Reconstructed Marriage

on every household subject, did not trouble Theo
dora, as they did when she had to face a perma
nence of them. She knew now they would soon be
over. They were passing away with every hour.
Besides this consideration, a great event in life takes
all importance out of small events, and she was so
occupied with the total change approaching her, that
the trifle of Mrs. Campbell's temper, or injustice did
not seem to be much worth minding. Her cheer
fulness and good temper was an amazing thing to
Mrs. Campbell, who not understanding its reason,
set it down to " Dora's aggravating ways."

" She thinks it annoys me," she said to Isabel,
" she thinks it annoys me to appear so indifferent to
my just anger, but she has to thole it anyway, and
I'll wager, she likes it no better for all her smiling
and singing to herself."

But Mrs. Campbell's just anger had now lost all
its importance to Theodora, for every one was prac
tically ready for the change, though the end of April
was the date fixed unless some good or evil event
sanctioned an earlier movement.

This event came unexpectedly, and in a different
direction from any anticipated. Robert left home
one morning about the twenty-second of April very
uncomfortably. His mother had been complaining
bitterly of David's restlessness at night. She said
he must be removed to the upper floor. She was
astonished that a boy of his age should want to
sleep near his mother. He must sleep beside Dora's
maid for the future. She could not have her sleep

A Reconstructed Marriage 273

broken, at her time of life it meant serious illness
and so on.

After breakfast Robert spoke to his wife on the
subject, and he was amazed at the spirit she dis
played. She said " David was sick last night. I
was fighting croup from midnight until dawn, and
you know, Robert, how alarmingly subject to this
terrible disease he is. How could he be left to a
tired girl's care? She would not have heard that
first hoarse cry last night, and we might have found
him dead this morning strangled all alone in the
darkness. No! he shall not leave me, or if you
say he must go to the servants' floor, then I will
go too."

With this subject still in abeyance Robert left her.
Then Mrs. Campbell sent servants to remove the
boy's cot to the maid's room, and Theodora posi
tively refused to allow its removal, sending the men
away, and then locking her doors. She was quiver
ing with fear and feeling, when Robert unexpectedly
returned home. He said the mail had brought him
bad news. He had been informed that Sykes and
Company of Sheffield who were heavily indebted to
him had failed, and he must go to Sheffield at once.
He told Theodora to pack his valise for a two weeks'
stay, while he went into the city for a certain account
ant, whom he proposed to take with him, in order
to examine the books of the delinquent firm.

" Pack my valise for a two weeks' stay." The
poor wife trembled through all her being. It was
the order for her own departure. The packing of

274 ^ Reconstructed Marriage

his valise would be the last act of the sorrowful
drama of her marriage. It was the last time she
would ever do him the service. The last time!
Every garment had a tragic look. She touched them
tenderly. Her unchecked tears dropped upon them.
If it was not for David's sake, she doubted whether
she could carry out her intentions but her child, her
child! They wanted even now to separate them in
their home, in a few weeks they might take him en
tirely away from her. His old enemy Croup would
find him alone in the dark and some dreadful night
strangle him. He would be punished for faults he
did not even understand, flogged, deprived of food
and companionship, tormented by cruel boys older
than himself oh, she could not bear to continue her
reflections, for the boy's sake she must leave his
father. And then a kind of anger at the father
followed in the steps of her grief. If she could
have trusted his father to defend him in all cases,
it need not have been ; but she could see, even in the
dispute concerning his sleeping-place, his father was
inclined to stand by the cruel wish of the grand

Oh, but the packing of that valise was a hard
task! And when it was strapped and locked, it
seemed almost to reproach her. She was sitting
gazing at it, when Robert entered the room and
caught the look of love and despair which filled her
eyes, and saddened her face and her attitude. In
spite of himself it flattered him. He was astonished
at her devotion, but it comforted him. His mother

A Reconstructed Marriage 275

had been angry when she heard of Sykes and Com
pany's failure. She had reminded him of her ad
vice to have nothing to do with them had told him
" Sykes looked shifty and rascally, and her words
had come true, and perhaps he would believe her
next time she gave him good advice." But Theo
dora had been full of sympathy, and had given him
only kind and encouraging words.

His manner was so unusually gentle, that she ven
tured to say: " I am afraid to be left here without
you, Robert. They will take David from me, or
I shall have a fight to keep him. It hurts me so,
dear, what am I to do? Will you tell mother to
let David's sleeping-place alone until you come

He was silent for a moment, then he answered:
" Take David and go and see your own father and
mother. You could stay ten or twelve days. When
I am ready to come home, I will telegraph you to
meet me at Crewe Station, then we can make the
journey back together."

"Oh, Robert, Robert! Oh, you dear Robert I
What a joy that will be to David and myself ! How
shall I thank you? "

" Never mind the thanks. Now I must go. I
have not a minute to spare."

'' Davie is in the next room."

He went to the child's cot, and stood a moment
looking at him. He was not yet recovered from
the night's awful struggle, but he opened his eyes
and stretched upward his arms, and Robert could not

276 A Reconstructed Marriage

resist the silent appeal. Thank God, O thank God,
he stooped and kissed him, and felt the little arms
around his neck in a way that amazed him! Then
he looked at Theodora and lifted his valise. The
carriage was at the door, his mother was hurrying
him, he said: "Good-bye, Dora. I will telegraph
you about Crewe."

" Thank you, Robert. Please say so before
mother, or she may try to prevent my going." Her
eyes were fixed on him. There was a piteous en
treaty in them would he not kiss and embrace her
also? Oh, if he knew it was the last time! If he
only knew it ! The thought was full of passionate
longing. He could not but feel it. He was just
going to take her hand, when Mrs. Campbell opened
the door and said fretfully:

" You will miss your train, Robert delaying and
delaying for nothing at all."

" I was telling Dora to go home on Friday, and
see her parents for twelve days or more. I will
meet her at Crewe, and we shall come home to

" Very well. I'll be gey and thankful to have
the house to ourselves for a few days or forever."

Robert was hastening to the carriage and did not
hear her reply, but when it was about to move, he
bent forward and looked at the door he was leav
ing. Theodora stood on the steps. Her heart was
in her eyes, her hands clasped above her breast.
She saw him bend forward, and leaned towards him
smiling. Never throughout all his life days did he

A Reconstructed Marriage 277

forget that last glimpse of the beautiful woman who
that morning watched him out of her sight. When
he was quite gone she turned into the house with
that sense of completeness so essential even to the
sorrowful. She had seen the last of her husband.
The bitterness of the separation was over. She
went to Davie and let him comfort her, then she
dressed the boy, and left him in the care of McNab ;
for she knew that she must go to Mrs. Oliphant's
without delay. The door had been set wide open
for them, and they must make the best of the oppor
tunity; or perhaps lose their lucky hour forever.

Fortunately David Campbell was at Mrs. Oli
phant's, having returned from Edinburgh not ten
minutes previously. He heard Theodora's tidings
with a calm pleasure. " We are ready," he said.
" Your father and mother have been in Glasgow for
a week. They are boarding at a house in Monteith
Row, a pretty locality on Glasgow Green."

" Oh, David, were you not afraid? "

" Not at all," he answered, " the Campbells are
exclusive West-Enders. They would be as likely to
go near Monteith Row as to go to Ashantee. Your
parents are known as Mr. and Mrs. Bell. You
must not try to see them until you meet on the

" Very well. When shall we sail? "

" This is Tuesday. The Anchor Line have a good
boat sailing at noon, Saturday. Can you be ready? "

"Easily. About your daughters?"

" They are ready. They will be here Friday, or

278 A Reconstructed Marriage

perhaps Thursday. Now I will go and secure the
four best staterooms possible. I shall take them in
the name of Kennedy and that will be our name,
until we reach New York."

Theodora remained with Mrs. Oliphant until
David returned with the tickets for the four state
rooms. She felt then, that there was no reprieve,
and that her first duty now was to be as cheerful
and brave as she ought to be. On reaching home,
she found that David's cot had been carried to the
maid's room, but she made no complaint. The fact
swept away all doubts and misgivings; it was the
last injustice, the last cruelty that could be inflicted,
and it was a vain one, for David could sleep with
her, until the end came.

On the following morning, she asked Jepson to
send to her room the smallest of her trunks, and
she put into it a few things belonging to her girl
hood's life her music, her textbooks, a novel she had
nearly finished writing, and the beautiful linen she
had made and embroidered with her own hands for
her marriage outfit. Two dresses were all that re
mained of the gowns bought at this date. These
she took with her. In her hand she would carry
a Gladstone bag with toilet necessities, and plenty
of clean white waists and collars for David and her
self. Their suits, bought with reference to this
necessity, were of dark blue cloth; David's made
into his first breeches and jacket, and Theodora's in
the simplest manner possible, but as Mrs. Campbell
said to Isabel:

A Reconstructed Marriage 279

" Plain, of course. But look at the lines and the
make o' it ! Menzie's cutting and fitting no doubt.
It cost five guineas to make that dress and the cloak
with it. She's a wasteful creature."

" Robert said she bought it herself, and "

" So she ought, so she ought I And the boy
dressed up in broadcloth and linen waists! A few
yards of lindsey would be more fitting."

" Mother, he is a beautiful boy."

"Is he? I cannot see myself where his beauty
comes in."

During the next two days Theodora employed her
self in folding carefully away all her clothing, and
locking it up in its proper drawers. Her jewels
she packed separately, and with a letter, put into
McNab's charge, requesting her to give them to Mr.
Campbell, if she did not return with him. When
Friday morning came, she rose early, dressed herself
and David, and was ready for the train that left
just about the time the Campbell breakfast was
served. In this way, she hoped to escape the pres
ence of Jepson, whom she feared might be told to
accompany her. On the contrary, Mrs. Campbell
grumbled at Jepson for helping the coachman with
her trunk, and the only question she asked was:
"What road did she take, Jepson?"

" The Caledonian, ma'am," was the answer.

" Hum-m-m ! I thought so."

" Has she gone?" said Isabel.

" Yes, and a good riddance of her."

" Oh, mother, and none of us bid her good-bye,

280 A Reconstructed Marriage

or wished her a pleasant time. I intended to go
to the train with her now I have missed "

" Making a fool of yourself. That is all you
have missed."

; ' What train would Mrs. Campbell take, Jep-

" The nine o'clock train, I suppose, miss."

But Theodora did not take the nine o'clock train.
She gave a porter a shilling to care for her trunk,
and watched an hour in a waiting-room. No one
suspicious appearing, she requested the porter to call
a cab, and put her trunk upon it, and then without
fear or hurry, she drove to a certain store, where
David Campbell was waiting. He went with her
at once to the pier of the Anchor Line, where they
left her trunk to be placed with the rest of the Ken
nedy luggage in the hold. " And now, where will
you hide yourself until to-morrow morning, Theo
dora? " he asked kindly.

u Mrs. Oliphant "

" No. She wants you, but I told her it could not
be. Her servants will be closely questioned, no

"I see."

" The steamer touches at Greenock. Get a room
in the Tontine Inn. Have your food served in your
room, and keep quiet until you walk down to meet
the steamer."

" 1 will do so. It is the best plan."

So they went to the railway station, and David
Campbell put them into a comfortable carriage for

A Reconstructed Marriage 281

Greenock. " You will see your father and mother
to-morrow," he said. " They are as happy as two
little children over the journey. It is a great event
for them, and they are talking of their little grand
son continually. They long to see him."

Theodora hardly knew what was being said to
her. She was in a kind of dreamlike state a state,
however, in which no mistakes are ever made. The
Inner Woman had control, and she had quite re
signed herself to its leading. " David and I will
meet the steamer in the morning. Be on the watch
for us, brother," she said.

" I will. You will go to the Tontine?"

" Certainly."

" And if they should not have room for you there,
then go to the "

" I will go to the Tontine. There is a room
ready for me there."

He looked at her kindly and understood. Those
who have watched long, solemn nights away with the
Beloved One, slowly dying, know something beyond
the lines of science, or the teachings of creeds. He
said good-bye to her, without a fear of any mistake.

At Greenock she found the prepared room in the
Tontine, and she made herself and little Davie com
fortable, and then ordered their dinner to be brought
to them. She was glad of this pause in her affairs,
and long after Davie was asleep, she sat pondering
the past and the future. At first she was dazed and
half-unbelieving of the great event that had taken
place in her life. In the darkness of the room, she

282 A Reconstructed Marriage

fell into short sleeps, and kept feeling around in the
darkness of her mind to learn what troubled her,
until suddenly, in cruel starts from sleep, her sorrow
found her out.

But this is the depth in our nature, where the
divine and human are one. Here, in our weakness
and weariness, we are visited by the Upholder of
the tranquil soul, and words wonderful and secret,
cheer the weary and heavy-laden ; for God has royal
compassions for the broken in heart. Theodora
awoke in the morning full of hope, and in one of
her most cheerful moods. The road no longer
frightened her, the ocean no longer separated her.
She had wings now for all the chasms of life, and
when she opened a little book for a word to clear
the way, and the day, she cried out joyfully, for
this was her message:

" The Lord is with me, hastening me forward." *

At the time appointed the steamer reached Green-
ock, she was there to meet it, and David Campbell
was at the gangway watching for her. There was
a crowd of incomers and outgoers, and David was
glad of it, for Theodora with her child reached their
stateroom without notice from any one. There she
found her father and mother, and the joy and won
der of that meeting may well be left to the imagina

It had been decided, that until David found out
whether any of the passengers were sitters in Dr.

*ist Esdras 1,27.

A Reconstructed Marriage 283

Robertson's church, or people from any circumstance
likely to know Theodora, she should remain in se
clusion; but in a couple of days, David had clearly
established the safety of her appearance; and after
that assurance, she was constantly on deck with the
rest of the party. All the way across the Atlantic
they had a blue sky, a blue sea, sunshine, and good
company; and one morning they were awakened by
some one calling "Land! Land in sight!" and
hastening on deck they stood together watching their
approach to the low-lying shores of that New World
which held for them the promise of a happy home
and a prosperous future.



JUST about the time Theodora's party were sitting
down to a happy dinner in the Astor House, New
York, Robert reached his home in Glasgow. He
had confidently expected to see his wife waiting for
him at Crewe Junction, and been disappointed and
angry at her failure to do so. " Women are all
alike," he muttered to himself, " they never keep
an appointment, and they never catch a train." He
wandered round the waiting-rooms looking for her,
and so missed his own train, and had to wait two
hours at one of the most depressing stations in Eng
land. For though the traffic is immense there, the
stony, prison-like order, the silent, hurrying passen
gers, and the despondent-looking porters, fill the
heart with a restless passion to escape from the place.
Without analyzing this feeling, Robert was conscious
of it, and it intensified the annoyance of his deten

All the way to Glasgow he pondered on the singu
lar circumstance of Theodora's failure to obey the
telegram he had sent her. She had always been
so prompt and glad to meet him, there must have
been some mistake made in the message. He tried
to remember its exact words, but could not, and as


A Reconstructed Marriage 285

he neared his own city a certain fear assailed him.
He began to wonder if his wife or child was sick
or if any accident had happened on their journey
from Bradford to Crewe. But this solution he
quickly dismissed as incredible. Theodora would
have managed under any circumstances to send
him word. She would not have kept him waiting
and wondering. It was utterly unlike her. At
length the anxious journey was over, but in hurrying
from the train to his carriage, he noticed that the
coachman spoke in an easy, nonchalant way, and
that there was no sign about him of anything unusual
or unhappy. When he reached Traquair House
his mother and Isabel met him at the door, and Jep-
son unlocked his apartments, and began to turn on
the light in the parlors.

" We shall have dinner in twenty minutes, Rob
ert," said Mrs. Campbell, and Jepson added:
" Your rooms upstairs are prepared for you, sir."
No one had named Theodora, and he had not
done so either. Why? He could not tell "why";
for her name beat at his lips, and inquiry about
her was the great demand of his nature. He looked
into her rooms, and the sense of emptiness and deser
tion about them was like a blow. David's cot had
been removed, he saw that at once, and felt angry
about it. And the perfect order of things shocked
something in his feelings never before recognized.
He missed sorely those pretty bits of disorder, that
seemed to him now almost a part of his wife and
child the bow of ribbon, the little shawl or scarf

286 A Reconstructed Marriage

over a chair-back, the small book of daily texts, and
the thin parchment copy of " The Imitation " on her
table; David's puzzle on the window seat, or his
tiny handkerchief on the floor beside it.

Restless and unhappy he went down to the dining-
room. His mother was in high spirits; Isabel still
and indifferent. But it was Isabel who asked: " How
much longer is Dora going to stay? The house is
so lonely without her."

" The house has been peaceful and restful with
out her, and the noisy child. I am sure it has been
a great relief," corrected Mrs. Campbell.

" I am anxious about Dora," said Robert with a
touch of his most sullen temper, " she ought to have
met me at Crewe, and did not do so. It was not

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA reconstructed marriage → online text (page 16 of 23)