Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

A reconstructed marriage online

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to a word against his sister. She had been sorry
for him, and forespoken good for him; he stood
staunchly by all she did.

" Do you know that she is going away this spring,
into all sorts of wild and savage countries, and among
pagans and papists, and worse if there is worse;
with nothing but a woman nearly as old as myself
to lean on. I wonder at your allowing such non

" Isabel knows what she is doing. She is going
with Lady Mary Grafton. They will have their
maids, and a first-class courier. I think she is doing

"And I shall be left here, all alone?"

" Do you count me a nonentity? "

" You are very near it, as far as I am concerned."

"I am alone, too. Will you remember that?
You know whose fault it is." Then he rose and
left her, and Mrs. Campbell was conscious of a secret
wish that the good old quarrelsome days would come
back, even though it were Theodora and David who
brought them."

A few days after this conversation Robert had
business in the city, and after it was finished, he
walked leisurely down Buchanan Street. It was a
fine spring morning, and there was a glint of sun
shine tempering the fresh west breeze. Passing Mc
Laren's, he saw a lady get out of a cab, and go into

A Reconstructed Marriage 35

the shop. He followed her, and gently laid his
hand on her shoulder, saying:

" Christina, sister! "

" Oh, Robert, Robert ! " and she laughed, and
cried, and clasped his hands.

" Come with me to my club," he said, " and we
will have lunch and a good talk. You must have
a deal to tell me."

" I have, I have ! My cab is at the door. Will
it do for you? You used to hate cabs." She
laughed again and her laugh went to his heart, so
he petted her hand, and said she was looking white
and thin, and what was the matter? "

" I had a little daughter only six weeks ago, the
sweetest darling you ever saw, Robert. And I have
a beautiful wee laddie, called Robert called after
you he is nearly a year old."

" Then I must go with you and see my name

" Do you really mean that?"

" I intend to give you this afternoon."

" I am so glad so happy."

Then they were at the Club House, and Robert
took her to a pleasant parlor and ordered a royal
lunch, and a bottle of wine.

" We must drink the little chap's health," he said.
"And now tell me, Christina, are you happy?"

" Yes, I am happy. I have some little anxieties
about Jamie, but love makes all easy and Jamie
loves me and the children, and does his best for us.
A man cannot do more than that, can he? "

306 A Reconstructed Marriage

" Have you ever regretted your treatment of Sir
Thomas Wynton?"

" Never once ! Wynton treated me handsomely,
but you see, / loved Jamie. You understand, Rob
ert? "

" Yes."

" I heard about Theodora, of course. It was hard
on you, but I do not blame Theodora. Since I was
a mother, I have wondered she bore David's treat
ment as long as she did. I would not."

When lunch was over, they drove to Christina's
home, and Robert laughed at its location. " Why,
you are barely a mile from Traquair House," he
said. " How was it we never found you out? "

" Perhaps you did not care about finding me out."

" Perhaps. Yet I know Isabel never went out
without looking for you, and she has put many ad
vertisements in the papers."

" Well, I was neither lost nor stolen, Robert, so
I never read advertisements." She laughed in her
old mocking way. " But I longed for Isabel, and
have hard work to keep away from her."

There was just time for Robert to see his name
sake, and give him a gold token, and admire the
baby in its mother's arms, and the mother with the
baby in her arms, when there was the sound of a
latch-key in the door, and then a gay whistle. " Here
comes Jamie," cried Christina, all her face aglow
with love and expectation. Jamie was a personality
you felt as soon as he entered the house. Robert
looked anxiously for his appearance ; but he was not

A Reconstructed Marriage 307

prepared for the young man who entered. He was
so handsome. Not Robert Burns himself had a more
winning face, or more charming manners. He came
into the room laughing, and when he saw Robert,
went straight to him with outstretched hand. " Glad
to see you, Campbell," he said heartily, and Robert
felt he was glad. u You will take dinner with us? "
he asked, and Robert said he would. Then he
brought cigars, and began to discuss with Robert
a subject which was at that time very interesting to
the city. Robert found him clever and amusing,
and he had a way of illustrating all his points with
stories so apt, and so amusing, you felt sure he in
vented them as needed.

They had a modest, cheerful dinner, after which
Jamie played the fiddle and sang as Robert had never
dreamed it was possible to fiddle and sing; and he
fell completely under the man's charm. For he
made fiddle strings of Robert's heart strings, with
his wild Gathering Calls, his National Songs, and
Strathspeys. It was impossible not to love the man,
and whatever liking and admiration Robert Camp
bell had to give, he gave unresistingly that night
to James Rathey. He went away reluctantly, though
he had stayed some time after dinner, and when
he clasped the beautiful hand of the violinist he held
it a moment, and said: "You have made me happy
for a few hours. I thank you ! I shall not forget."

All the way home he was revolving a plan in his
mind, which he was resolved to bring to perfection.
With this object in view, he looked into the dining-

308 A Reconstructed Marriage

room when he reached home, hoping to find Isabel
there. But Mrs. Campbell was sitting alone with
a newspaper in her hand. She looked bored and
forsaken, and he was sorry for her. ' Where is
Isabel?" he asked.

" Where she always is, except at eating-times in
her room."

" I want to see her."

" Will not your mother do? "

" Not just yet. I may want you in a short time."

" And then I may not come. You are going to
ask Isabel, whether it is prudent to tell me some
thing, or not."

" Will you let Isabel know, or shall I send Mc-

" I will tell her myself."

Then Robert went to his own parlor, and in a
few minutes Isabel came to him. He took her hand,
and seated her at his side. " Isabel," he said, " I
have found Christina. I have had lunch and din
ner with her. I have met James Rathey."

"Oh, Robert!"

" He is the most delightful of men. They are as
happy as they can be."

Then Isabel began to cry softly. " Oh, Robert,
Robert! Such good news! Tell me all about
them ! " she exclaimed. And Robert told her all
that Christina had said, and all that Jamie had said.
He described Christina's and Rathey's appearance,
he told her about the babies, he even made a few
remarks about the floor and the furniture.

A Reconstructed Marriage 309

" I must go and see her the first thing in the morn
ing, Robert."

"How soon will you start on your travels, Isa

" In ten days, if Lady Mary is better."

"Is she sick?"

" I heard this morning she had an attack of
measles very peculiar in a woman of her age."

" I don't know, I'm sure. What I want is, that
Christina should come into my rooms. I am going
to give her all the furniture in them everything
everything except some clothing. While you are
away, she will be company for mother, who seems
pitifully lonely."

" That is mother's fault, Robert. These empty
rooms ought to be "

" I know. There is no use speaking of it. All
that hope is over. Do you think you can persuade
Christina to come home? "

" She would have some submissions to make to
mother will she make them?"

" I think so. Go and ask her."

" I will see her in the morning."

In the morning there was a joyful meeting between
the sisters, and Christina was delighted with Robert's
plan. She had often longed for the large rooms,
the wide stairways and corridors of Traquair House.
She hated small rooms, and common stairs, and cabs,
and remembered longingly the days when the Camp
bell carriage was at her beck and call. She liked
plenty of servants, and her own maid and nurse

310 A Reconstructed Marriage

would be added to the staff in Traquair House. She
would be relieved of all housekeeping cares, and of
the oversight of the table, a duty she particularly
disliked. Besides these considerations, she could
again take her proper place in society. Robert would
be certain to do something for Jamie, and then she
would have her income for dress and social demands.

" It will be delightful, Isabel," she said. " Just
what I wish, and Jamie will win round mother di
rectly he has that way with all women."

" Then come home about five this afternoon, and
bring the babies with you, especially Margaret."

" Isabel, you mean? "

"No, no! You must call her Margaret. As
Margaret she will open mother's heart to you."

About five that afternoon, Mrs. Campbell came
into the big, empty dining-room. She was dressed
for dinner, but there were no signs of the meal.
She looked cross and forlorn, and began to grumble
to herself, as she impatiently stirred the fire into a
blaze. " It is too bad of Isabel," she muttered;
" she cares for nothing but her own way. I am left
to look after everything house, callers, what not
and there is a ring at the door now ! I hope Jep-
son heard it."

The next moment the room door was thrown open,
and Christina, in a flurry of beautiful silk and fur, fell
on her knees by her mother's side. She clasped her
mother's hands in her own, and said softly: " For
give Christina, mother. I have brought my little
Margaret for your blessing. Oh, yes, you will bless

A Reconstructed Marriage 311

her. And Christina is really sorry, and longs so
much for her mother and her home dear mother,
forgive me ? "

At the beginning of her entreaty, Mrs. Campbell
had tried to take her hands from between her daugh
ter's, but at the close they lay passive until she raised
one, stroked Christina's face, and bid her rise. Then
Christina took the little child, and laid it in its
grandmother's arms, saying:

" Little Margaret asks you to forgive and love
us, mother," and little Margaret won the day.

" May I stay dinner, mother, and talk to you?"

" Go up to your own room, and take off your hat
and wrapping. You may leave the bairns with me.
Yon is a bonnie wee lad, what is his name? "

" Robert Traquair."

" A wise like name ! Bring him here, lassie
and what is your name? "

" Janet, ma'am."

" Weel, Janet, you may now take the boy-bairn
to the kitchen, and show him to Mistress McNab,
and tell her she will hae company to provide for.
I'll keep the bit lassie mysel', till her mother is ready
for her."

At six o'clock, as arranged, Robert came home and
joined his mother and sisters, and they were all
talking happily together, when Jamie Rathey entered.
Robert met him with a hearty welcome, and Jepson
coming in at that moment, to superintend the setting
of the table, was told by Robert to lay service for
two extra. And as Christina predicted, when the

312 A Reconstructed Marriage

evening was over Jamie had fairly conquered the
usually impossible Mrs. Campbell. He had waited
on his mother-in-law as if he was her lover, he had
told pleasant stories, and sang merry songs, and
above all assured her, she was " the only mother he
knew, who could bring up daughters able to make
the state of marriage an earthly Paradise " ; and
with a charming smile he wished " that she had fifty
daughters, so that Glasgow might boast of fifty per
fect wives, and happy husbands."

Robert watched him, and listened to him, and won
dered that a man of his tact and social genius, did
not get on in the world; and after the Ratheys and
their children had departed he said: " Christina has
not done as badly as we believed, mother. What
do you think of James? "

'' The man is well enough as a man," she an
swered with a sudden cooling of heart temperature,
" but what about his capacities? Is he a good pro
vider? Can he get hold of the wherewithal for a
family's necessities? "

" He is on the Roll of Attorneys now, but it is
hard for a young man to get a law business it takes
time. He is sure to make his mark, but I do not
suppose he makes his office rent yet."

" I thought so."

" He is clever."

' Very. And if he is as clever with his fiddle as
his tongue, I would be astonished if he made office


A Reconstructed Marriage 313

" Because God has given to some men wisdom and
understanding, and to other men He has given the
art o' playing on the fiddle. But if a man is want
ing law, he does not want a song, and he is naturally
suspicious of the lawyer who mixes the two."

" I shall get him installed as attorney on some of
the civic boards, and that will give him an oppor
tunity to show himself as a lawyer. And, mother,
I have given Christina the use of my rooms, and
the furniture is hers now. I have given her it just
as it stands everything, except some clothing.
When Isabel goes away, I thought you would be
very lonely, and Christina and the babies will make
things more cheerful for you."

" I might have been asked, if it would be agree

" I only met Christina yesterday. I went home
with her, and I want her to have a better home
her old home, and you to look after her."

" Well, a mother's duty never ends, and I was
never one to shirk duty. The rooms are all right
but as for the cooking and the kitchen "

" Tut, tut, mother ! You will look after the table
as you have always done."

" There will be four more adults to provide for,
not to speak o' the bairns' feeding and washing."

" James is able to pay whatever you think right.
I will insure that to you. And, mother, it will be
a joy to see you busy about the house again, ordering
the meals, and keeping the servant girls up to

314 A Reconstructed Marriage

" I always was a busy woman, Robert, and I will
be thankful to have my hands full again. I am sure
the thought o' Christina's playing and singing, and
her goings out and in, and the visitors she will have,
and the news coming with them, and the children,
special the bit lassie wi' her soft black een, and her
wonderfu' resemblance to mysel' all these things,
sure enough, will make the old house a deal more
pleasant. But where will you keep yourself? "

u At my club. I have a room there anyway, and
I shall always take my breakfast in it. Sometimes,
I will come here for dinner, but Jamie will be the
man of the house, and a better master than I have
ever been he will have more time to help you,

These conditions, carefully considered and elabo-
ratecl, were carried out with all the haste possible.
But haste is not in a Scotchwoman's faculty. She
can do many things well, but she must carefully
prepare for their doing, and then move with care
and caution.

A few days after this arrangement, Mrs. Camp
bell and Christina went out together to do some shop
ping found necessary for it. Isabel remained at
home to answer a letter from the Grafton family.
This letter gave her great anxiety; it said: "Lady
Mary's illness had become more serious than was at
first anticipated, and there was almost a certainty
that she would not be able to travel at the time
fixed; consequently, they would leave to Miss Camp
bell the option of changing the date, or of cancelling

A Reconstructed Marriage 315

the engagement, as seemed best for her own pleasure
and interest."

Poor Isabel was much troubled at this disappoint
ment. She feared all was going wrong with her
plans, and the thought of the coming invasion with
the noise of the children, and the joyous hilarity of
Christina and her husband, and her mother's renewed
importance, was not, in her present mood of dis
appointment and uncertainty, a pleasant anticipation.
She sat silent and motionless, her eyes fixed on the
neatly folded routes she had prepared. And her
heart sank low, and a few tears gathered slowly and
remained unshed. " All my desires are doomed,"
she thought sorrowfully. " Nothing I plan comes
to pass. How unfortunate I am ! "

Then there was a tap at her door, and a maid
told her there was a visitor. She rose despondingly,
took the card, threw it on the table, and went slowly
to the drawing-room. Before she had quite opened
the door, she heard hurrying steps coming to meet
her, and the next moment Sir Thomas Wynton was
holding her hands, and trying to tell her how happy
he was to see her again.

She had an instantaneous sense of hope and relief,
and they were soon heart and soul in the conversa
tion they both enjoyed. Very soon she went for
the routes she had prepared, and showed them to
the baronet, who was amazed and delighted:

" I never saw anything so beautifully and care
fully done," he exclaimed, " and when do you start
on Route No. i.? I see it takes in Russia, Sweden,

316 A Reconstructed Marriage

and Norway, and home by the Netherlands and Ork
neys. Why, I never thought of that ! How good,
how excellent an idea."

" I intended leaving Glasgow in nine days, but
Lady Mary Grafton, whose party I was to join, is
ill with measles."

"Good gracious! Measles! I never heard of
such a thing, what is the woman up to? She is not
a baby or a schoolgirl, is she? "

" She is forty- four years old."

"Oh! And measles? How absurd! What will
you do? "

" I was trying to decide, when you came. Can
you help me? If you can, I shall be grateful. If
I can find no one to go with me, I shall go alone."

" Nonsense, impossible ! May I call early to
morrow morning? "

" Ten o'clock if you wish."

Then he thanked her for the sensible, interesting
letters she had written him. They were " a kind
of little newspaper," he said, " and I counted those
days happy and fortunate on which I received one.
I have brought you some laces. I noticed that you
always wore pretty lace, and so whenever I was at
a place where lace was made, I got a little for you."

"Oh, Sir Thomas!"

" And to-morrow morning, I hope I will be able
to tell you something about a companion for your
journey. Do you know Mrs. Foster?"
" No. I have heard of her only."

He seemed on the point of going, but did not go

A Reconstructed Marriage 317

until Mrs. Campbell came home. Then he stayed
to lunch, and sat chatting with the two ladies until
three o'clock. Even then he seemed reluctant to
go away.

" Why should he come here at ten o'clock in the
morning? " asked Mrs. Campbell, when Sir Thomas
had finally gone away.

" Lady Mary is too ill to travel. Sir Thomas
thinks he can get me a proper companion. If not,
mother, I shall go alone. I will not let anything
disappoint me again."

" You will be talked of from Dan to Beersheba."

"T shall be doing nothing wrong, and I shall be
happy. Let them talk."

In the morning Sir Thomas was in the drawing-
room at ten o'clock, and Isabel, in a pretty -lavender
lawn gown, went with a smile to meet him. He
looked at her with delight, and said: " I have found
you a companion one that will take the greatest
care of you. It is myself. I will trust you with no
one else."

" But, Sir Thomas," and she attempted to draw
her hand out of his.

" No, no," he said, clasping it still tighter. " Sit
here by my side, and listen to what I say. I love
you dearly, wisely, with all my heart. I will make
you Lady Wynton to-morrow, if you desire it, and
you and I you and I will take all those excellently
planned journeys together. We will travel slowly
and comfortably, luxuriously when we can; we will
see everything worth seeing. We will take a long,

318 A Reconstructed Marriage

long honeymoon trip, all over the world. Say ' yes,'
Isabel. May I call you Isabel? "

" Yes."

" My Isabel."

" I am your sincere friend."

" My wife ! I want you for my wife."

" A wedding means a great deal of trouble. It
would keep me back."

" Not an hour. We will meet in Dr. Robertson's
parlor, each with a friend or two. My carriage will
be at his door, and as soon as the ceremony is over,
we will drive to the railway station, and take a train
for London, be in London for dinner, and ready
next day to start Tour No. I, first landing-place
St. Petersburg; eh, dear? Say yes, say yes, Isabel.

And how could Isabel say anything but "yes"?
It was the dream of her life coming true.

'' This is Wednesday," he continued joyfully,
"what do you say to next Monday? Can you be
ready for Monday?"

" I can be ready by Monday, Sir Thomas."

" We will drop the ' Sir,' my dear, forever. Now,
I will go and arrange with Dr. Robertson for the
ceremony at nine o'clock, Monday morning, and in
the meantime, see your brother about the necessary
business matters, and put all right at Wynton village
for at least a year's stay. For after London, we
will follow the route you laid out nothing could be

And as this was one of those destined marriages,

A Reconstructed Marriage 319

that may be delayed but cannot be prevented, every
particular relating to it went as desired. Isabel in
a pretty travelling suit, with her mother and brother,
was at Dr. Robertson's at nine o'clock on the set
Monday morning, and found Sir Thomas Wynton
and his brother-in-law and sister, Lord and Lady
Morpeth, waiting for them. It was a momentous
interval for two of the party, but soon passed; for
in twenty minutes, Isabel received the congratula
tions due to her as Lady Wynton, and then amid
smiles and good wishes she began with her husband
their long wedding trip, of all over the world.

" It is the last of my Isabel," said Mrs. Campbell
between smiles and tears.

" No," answered Robert, " it is the beginning of
Isabel. When she comes back we shall hardly know
her. It is a real marriage; they will improve each
other," and he turned away with a sigh.

Mrs. Campbell had really no occasion for tears.
She was not inclined to weep, even when weeping
would have been in order, and Isabel had not lately
been notable, either as a help or a comfort, so that
her mother felt it no trial to exchange her presence,
for the pleasure of talking of her dear daughter,
Lady Wynton, her journeyings and her experiences.
There was also the returning home of Christina, the
rearranging of Robert's rooms for her and her fam
ily, their moving into them and settlement, and these
things engaged her warmest interest. She felt in
deed that as regarded Robert's rooms falling to
Christina's lot, she owed Providence a handsome

32O A Reconstructed Marriage

acknowledgment. They had been prepared at an
extravagant cost for an Englishwoman and a stran
ger, but had come, as it were, naturally, to her own
daughter. But then she said: "Providence had
always looked after the Campbells, and it was not
likely that in this flagrant case Providence would
forget its duty."

She was busy from morning to night until she
had the new family under the same roof with her,
and Robert also appeared to take a great interest
in the change. He was very generous to his sister,
and gave her freely all the beautiful furniture and
ornaments he had bought for Theodora, even the
piano would know her touch no more. All the
books, music, and pretty ornaments and embroideries
she had accumulated during her miserable six years
of married life, she left behind her; and all were
given to Christina. Christina had no reluctance in
appropriating them. She began her new tenure in
Traquair House by taking everything she could get,
likely to add to her comfort or pleasure.

Robert was a great deal about the house while the
change was in progress, afterward his visits de
creased, until they settled into the Sunday dinner
with his family. No one complained of his absence.
Christina and Rathey introduced a new life a life
of constant visiting, gaiety, and entertaining; and
Mrs. Campbell accepted it without dissent. Jamie
Rathey indeed ruled her more absolutely than he
ruled his wife. And she petted him, as she had
never petted her own sons ordered luxuries for his

A Reconstructed Marriage 321

eating, gave him presents, paid his bills, and excused
all his extravagances.

" Between Jamie and little Margaret, I am not
my own woman at all," she admitted, and as time
went on, it was difficult to say which of these two
treated her with the most tyrannical affection.

Two erroneous conclusions are likely to be formed
concerning Robert Campbell on this unlocked for
transformation of life in Traquair House one, that
he had suddenly developed a most unusual generosity,
and the other, that he had forgotten his wife, and
become resigned to her loss. Neither of these con
clusions would be correct. Few, indeed, of our

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA reconstructed marriage → online text (page 18 of 23)