Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

A reconstructed marriage online

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actions ring true through all their depths, and Rob
ert's generosity to his sister arose from a desire to
make his own life more bearable. Those lonely,
lifeless, deserted rooms, over which he had spent so
much love and gold filled him with a terror he hated
to face. If Christina would bring into them life
and song, and the voices of children, perhaps their
haunting misery might die out of his heart. He
could not prevent Isabel leaving home, but he did
dread the house with no one but his mother and him
self in it. So when Christina stepped into both
dilemmas, with a comfortable solution, he felt grate
ful to her, and it was pleasant to give her things,
and pleasant to help Jamie Rathey, and to see the
dark, silent house alive with mirth and company,
and the prattle of little children.

But there was another Robert that none of these
things touched, who in fact would neither see them,

322 A Reconstructed Marriage

nor listen to them. This Robert sat hours motion
less and speechless, dreaming of the woman he still
loved longing for her with heartbreaking accusa
tions and remorse. Oh, to hear from her! Oh, to
see her, if but for a moment I Would the hour for
their reconciliation never, never come? This was
the faithful, bitter cry of his best nature, as raking
in the ashes of memory, he made of his lost wife
a thousand lovely and sorrowful pictures. And this
Robert Campbell, no one but Robert's angels, and
Robert's God knew.

To the world in general he seemed to be harder
than ever, indifferent to all interests but money-mak
ing, stripped even of his old time gloss and politeness,
yielding only when necessary to get his own way.
His kindness to Christina had been in the main kind
ness to himself, and the ready help given to Jamie
Rathey was the result of several selfish reasons, united
with that singular liking which men occasionally feel
for some other man gifted as they never can be
an affection doubtless dating from some life anterior
to this life. With these exceptions, Robert Camp
bell was the old Robert Campbell, a little older, and
a little rougher, and the national emblem of the
repellent Thistle, with its churlish command,
" Hands of! " represented him very fairly.



IT will not now be difficult for any one to construct
in their imagination the life in Traquair House for
the next two years. But at the end of that time, a
great change was approaching, and the bringer of
it was Isabel, Lady Wynton. She was sitting at her
husband's side one afternoon, in the office or foyer
of a large hotel in San Francisco. Sir Thomas was
smoking and watching with her the constant kaleido
scope of humanity passing in and out. They were
not talking, but there was a thorough, though silent
sympathy between them. Sometimes Sir Thomas
looked at her with an admiring glance, which she
answered with a smile, or a move of her chair closer
to him ; but her attitude was that of a woman silently
interested and satisfied. It was the old Isabel in
a repose, informed, vigilant, and conscious of a per
fect communion of feeling.

Suddenly her whole appearance changed. She
became eager and watchful, and her personality ap
peared to be on the tiptoe of expectation. With
her eyes she followed every movement of a beautiful
young woman attended by a scholarly-looking man,
nearing sixty years of age. The couple were quickly
joined by a much younger man, they walked with
him to the main entrance, stood talking a few min-


324 A Reconstructed Marriage

utes, and then bid him farewell. The woman and
older man then turned back into the hotel, and Lady
Wynton had a full leisurely look at them. She did
not recognize the man at all, but she was perfectly
satisfied as to the identity of the woman, and she
stepped hastily forward, crying softly:

" Theodora, Theodora ! I know it is you. I have
found you at last. Oh, how glad I am, how glad
I am!"


" And here is my husband, Dora."

" I need no introduction, Mrs. Campbell," said
Sir Thomas, with smiling courtesy. " I remember
you perfectly, though you have been growing
younger, instead of older."

Theodora quickly introduced her father, leaving
him with Sir Thomas while she and Lady Wynton
went to the Wyntons' parlor for conversation. " I
must write Robert at once," said Lady Wynton. " It
will be such a wonderful thing to him, for I am sure
he has given up all hope of ever seeing you again,
Dora. Two years ago he left Traquair House;
he could not endure his empty lonely rooms any

" Poor, dark, sad rooms ! I try to forget them

' They are not dark and empty now, Christina
and her husband and babies are living in them, and
they make them livery enough, I have no doubt."

A shadow passed over Theodora's face, and she
did not speak for a few moments. Then she asked:

A Reconstructed Marriage 325

" What was done with the furniture and the things
I used to believe were mine? "

" Christina wrote me that Robert had given every
thing in the rooms to her."

" How kind of him ! " There was a little scorn
in her voice, and she asked, " What about my piano,
and my music? "

" Oh, Theodora, you must not feel hurt. Poor
Robert! He was nearly broken-hearted. He never
expected to see you. He had spent a fortune on
detectives, who looked all over Europe for you. One
night I sat with him, and I really thought he was
insane. He acted like it."

" But he gave my piano and music away."

" I suppose he could not bear to see them and
you had left them, you know."

" Isabel, he gave me that piano as a birthday gift,
one week before we were married; but then, of
course, he took it back after the ceremony. He told
me once my wedding ring was his property, and that
he could sell the very hair off my head if he chose
to do so."

" He must have been in a vile temper to say such
things. Legally, I suppose he was right, but no
good man ever does such things."

" But if a woman has the ill-fortune to marry a
bad man? and many women innocently do this,
then "

"Then what?"

"If she has any self-respect, she emancipates her
self from such a condition of slavery."

326 A Reconstructed Marriage

" Are you still angry at Robert? "

" I never was angry at him. He was only the
rock on which my love bark struck, and went down."

"How is David?"

" Come home with me, and see him. We shall
be home for supper, and it is about time we were

" Both Sir Thomas and I will come with you

For nearly ten miles their road lay through a de
lightful country, and just at the darkening ended
in a plateau among some foothills. A number of
white houses were scattered over it, and towards one
of these Theodora drove her carriage. They entered
an inclosure studded with forest trees, and kept in
fine order; and as they neared the dwelling, came
into a lovely garden full of all kinds of flowers and
fruits. The house was square and large, surrounded
by deep piazzas, and covered to the chimney-tops
with flowering vines, chiefly with jasmine and pas
sion flowers. On either side of the wide hall there
were cool, large parlors, and from its centre rose
the white stairway leading to the upper rooms and
everywhere there was an indefinable sense of peace
and comfort.

"What a beautiful home! What a heavenly
place! " cried Isabel, and Theodora answered:

" My father bought it when we first came. We
have lived here ever since. It is beautiful. The
sun shines on it, the winds blow through it, in every
room there is happiness and peace. You were ask-

A Reconstructed Marriage 327

ing about David," she said in a tone of exultation,
" here he comes ! " and they went to the window
and watched his approach. He was riding a fine,
spirited horse, and riding like Jehu the son of Nim-
shi, who doubtless rode as well as drove furi

" How wonderfully he rides, Dora."

" David can do anything with a horse, or a rifle,
and he is so strong, and tall, you would think him
much older than he is. Come, we will go down
and have supper, and let unpleasant memories die."

For two weeks the Wyntons stayed with Mr. New
ton two weeks of perfect delight to them. They
visited various lovely towns along the coast, they
hunted, and fished, and talked, the women of house
hold things, and family affairs the two men of their
college days, and sports, and poetry; Sir Thomas
quoting the Greek poets, and Mr. Newton the Eng
lish, old and new. In the evenings, Theodora played
and sang, and David recited stirring lines from " The
Lady of the Lake " and other works. Night and
day followed each other so happily and so quickly,
that the week promised became two weeks, without
notice or protest.

No letter during this time had been sent to Robert.
Theodora insisted on this point. " I do not like
letters, Isabel," she said. " They say too much, or
too little. When you see Robert, tell him what your
eyes have seen, and your ears heard just the plain
truth and leave him to act on it, as he wishes."

" Then remember, Dora, that we are not intend-

328 A Reconstructed Marriage

ing to hurry home. We shall remain a few days
at Salt Lake City, Denver, St. Louis, Chicago, and
of course visit Niagara. It may be a month before
we reach New York. You must give us five or six
weeks before we reach Liverpool, and so do not
lay the blame of our loitering to Robert's indiffer
ence. Be patient."

" I have been four years without a word. You
see that I am neither impatient nor unhappy."

" Tell me, Dora, who was that dark, handsome
man you seemed so much at home with in the hotel ?
I am curious about him. He appeared to be so
familiar with your father and yourself."

" He is a neighbor. His house is about two miles
from ours. The two eldest girls you saw reading
and singing with me are his daughters. I am educat
ing them with the three younger girls, who are the
only children of a neighbor in another direction."

" He seemed very fond of you I mean the man
at the hotel."

" He is a good friend. He spends much time
with my father. When he bid us good-bye, he was
going to his mining property. That is the reason
you have not seen him. Had he been at home, he
would have made your visit here much pleas-

' Then I think we should never have got away.
What a book full I shall have to tell Robert? I
wish I was home. It will be good to see the light
come into his sad face, when I say, ' Robert, I have
found Theodora ! ' "

A Reconstructed Marriage 329

*' Say nothing to influence him, one way or the
other. His own heart must urge him to seek me, or
he will never find me. It is a long journey to take,
for a disappointment."

" He will doubtless write to you at once."

" I should take no notice of a letter."


" I have learned that a woman who lets slip the
slightest respect which is due her, invites, and per
haps deserves the contempt she gets."

" Sir Thomas is very respectful to me, Dora."

" And very kind and loving. And you must know
that you are much handsomer than you were before
your marriage. You converse better, your manner
is dignified yet gracious, your dress is rich, and in
fine taste, and the touch of gray in your abundant
black hair is exceedingly becoming to you. You are
a fortunate woman."

" But, Dora, remember how long I waited for
good fortune. I am in real living only two years
old; all the years before my marriage were blank
and dreary. I am forty years of age according to
my birth date, and I have lived two, out of the

" Thank God for the two years ! "

"I do. We both do. Sir Thomas is very re

At length the Wyntons departed, and when Theo
dora had made her last adieu, and watched their
carriage out of sight, she turned to her mother, who
stood pale and depressed at her side.

330 A Reconstructed Marriage

" I am glad the visit is over. It has been some
thing of a trial to you, mother and to me also."

" The last week I was a little weary. But father
and David enjoyed it, so it does not matter."

" Yes, it does matter. The men in a house should
not be made happy at the cost of the women's ex

"How soon do you expect your husband?"

" Not for eight weeks it may be longer, and it
may be never."

" Do you love him at all now? "

" I love the Robert who wooed and married me,
as much as ever I did; the Robert of the last five or
six years, I do not wish to see again. I have been
away from him four years, and I cannot hope that
his manner of life has improved him."

"How has he lived?"

" From what Isabel told me, I should say his
family had full dominion over him for two years;
the result being the tearing to pieces of the home he
made for me, and the handing over to his sister every
thing that was mine. The last two years he has
lived a solitary life at his club, no doubt self-in
dulgent, self-centred, and self-sufficient."

" Theodora, no one but God knows anything about
Robert. He would show himself to no one I mean
his real self. Do not judge him on the partial evi
dence of his sister. She would look no further than
his words and actions."

" I wish I had heard nothing about him. I
thought he was out of my life forever."

A Reconstructed Marriage 331

" Do not let the matter disturb you, until you are
compelled to. Grace for the need is sure. No
where have I seen, grace before the need promised."

" You are right, mother, we will go on with our
lives just as if this visit had never happened. I will
neither hope nor doubt. I will do my day's work,
and leave all with God."

So the Newton House went back to its calm routine,
and Theodora taught and wrote, and helped her
mother with her housekeeping, and her father with
copying his manuscripts, and her boy with his lessons,
and the days passed into weeks, and the weeks into
months, and the promise of Robert's coming became
as a dream when one awakeneth.

Yet all was proceeding surely, if leisurely, to the
appointed end. In about eight weeks, the Wyntons
arrived in London, and following their usual habit
delayed and delayed there, for a whole week before
starting for Scotland. But once at Wynton Castle,
Isabel felt freed from her promise of silence, and she
wrote to Robert a few days after her return home,
the following note:

" DEAR ROBERT: We reached home four days
ago, and found everything in perfect order. I hope
mother and Christina and you yourself are well. I
am in fine health, never was better. When we were
in California I came unexpectedly upon Theodora.
We stayed two weeks with her, very pleasant weeks,
and if you will come to Wynton as soon as con
venient, we shall be glad to see you and tell you

332 A Reconstructed Marriage

all about your wife and child. You need have no
anxiety about them. They could not be happier.
Give my love and duty to mother, and tell Christina
I have a few pretty things for her.

" Your loving sister,


Robert found this letter beside his dinner plate,
and after he had taken his soup he deliberately
opened it. He knew it was Isabel's writing, and
the post-marks showed him she was at home again.
He knew also that it would contain an invitation to
Wynton, and before he was sure of it, he made a
vow to himself that he would not go.

" Sir Thomas will prose about the persons and
places he has seen, and Isabel will smile and admire
him, and I shall have to be congratulatory and say
a hundred things I do not want to say. I do not
care a farthing for Sir Thomas and his partnership
now, and I will not have his patronage." Thus
he talked to himself, as he opened the letter, and
gave his order for boiled mutton and caper sauce.

When the mutton came he could not taste it. He
looked dazed and shocked, and the waiter asked:
"Are you ill, sir?"

' Yes," was the answer. " Give me a glass of

The wine did not help him, and he lifted the letter
and went to his room. There he threw himself upon
the bed and lay motionless for an hour. He was
not thinking, he could not think; he was gathering

A Reconstructed Marriage 333

his forces physical and mental together, to enable
him to overcome the shock of Isabel's news, and
decide on his future course.

For the information which Isabel had given him
in a very prosaic way had shaken the foundations of
his life, though he could not for awhile tell whether
he regarded it as welcome, or unwelcome. But as
he began to recognize its import, and its conse
quences, his feelings were certainly not those of pleas
ure, nor even of satisfaction. He had rid himself
of all the encumbrances Theodora had left behind
her. He had given his home away and reduced the
obligations to his kindred to a minimum, for a visit
once a week satisfied his mother and Christina; and
if he missed a week, no one complained or asked
for the reason. At his club he was well served, all
his likes and dislikes were studied and pandered to.
There was no quarrelling at the club, no injured
wife, no sick child, no troublesome servants. He
was leading a life that suited him, why should he
change it for Theodora ?

If Theodora had been in poverty and suffering, he
felt sure he would have had no hesitation, he would
have hurried to her side, but a Theodora happy,
handsome, and prosperous, was a different problem.
Why had she not sent him a letter by Isabel? She
must have known, that Isabel would certainly reveal
her residence, why then did she not do it herself?
" She ought to have written to me," he muttered,
" it was her duty, and until she does, I will not take
any notice of Isabel's information."

334 A Reconstructed Marriage

With this determination he fell into an uneasy
sleep, and lo, when he awoke, he was in quite a
different mood! Theodora, in her most bewitching
and pathetic moods, was stirring his memory, and he
said softly, yet with an eager passion : " I must go
where Dora is! I must go to her! I cannot go
too quickly! I will see Isabel to-day, and get all
necessary information from her."

He found Isabel enthusiastically ready to hasten
him. She described the Newton home its beauty,
comfort, peace, and happiness. She went into italics
about David he was a young prince among boys of
his age. He rode wondrously, he could do any
thing with a rifle that a rifle was made for, he was
a good English scholar for his age, and was learning
Latin and German. She said his grandfather was
his tutor, and that the two were hardly ever apart.

At this point Robert had a qualm of jealousy.
The boy was his boy, and he ought to be with him,
and not with his grandfather. He was defrauded
on every side. He said passionately, he would go
for the boy, and bring him home at any rate; and
Isabel told him plainly it could not be done. " And
as for Theodora," she continued, " she looks younger
and lovelier than when you married her. You should
see her in white lawn with flowers on her breast,
or in her wonderful hair; or still better, on horse
back, with David riding at her side. Oh, Robert!
You never knew the lovely Theodora of to

" If she had any lover," he said slowly, " if she

A Reconstructed Marriage 335

had any lover, you would have discovered that fact,

"Lover! That is nonsense. Her time and in
terests are taken up with her teaching, writing, and
her care of her child. She is educating five girls,
daughters of wealthy men living near, and she has
published one novel, and is writing another; and
she helps Mr. Newton with his manuscripts, and
Mrs. Newton with her house. She is as busy as
she is happy. We stayed two weeks with her, and
I saw no one like a lover. I do remember at the
hotel where I first saw her, there was a very hand
some dark man, who seemed to be on the most
friendly, even familiar terms with both Theodora
and Mr. Newton. I asked her once who the man
was, and she said he was a neighbor, and that she
was educating his two daughters. Then I asked
if he was likely to call and she told me he had gone
to his mine, and that was the reason we had not
seen him every day. She said she was sorry it had
so happened, because he would have made our visit
much pleasanter."

" No doubt," he answered. " Much pleasanter,
of course. Thank you, Isabel. I owe you more
than I can ever pay. I shall go to San Francisco,
and see with my own eyes how things are."

" You will see nothing wrong, Robert. Be sure
of that. Dora is as good as she is beautiful. I
did not love her when I thought her an intruder
into my home, but in her own home, she is adorable.
Every one loves her."

336 A Reconstructed Marriage

" I object to every one loving her. She is mine.
I am going to bring her to her own home where she
ought to be."

He would not remain to dinner. He was in haste
to reach a solitude in which he could commune with
his own heart. For Isabel's words had roused a
fiery jealousy of his wife, and he had suddenly re
membered his mother's first question when she heard
of Theodora's flight: " Has she gone with that black-
a-visored dandy staying at the Oliphants' ? " He had
then scornfully denied the supposition had felt as
if it was hardly worth denying. But at this hour, it
assumed an importance that tortured him. His
mother had called him black-a-visored, and Isabel
had called him dark. The two were the same man,
and this conviction came with that infallible assur
ance, that turns a suspicion into a truth, beyond in
quiry or doubt.

He got back to Glasgow he hardly knew how.
He was a little astonished to find himself there. But
something, held in abeyance while he was out of
the city, returned to him the moment he felt his
feet on the wet pavements, and breathed the foggy
atmosphere. He knew himself again as Robert
Campbell, and with an accented display of his per
sonality went into the discreet, non-observant refuge
of his club. He was hungry, and he eat; in a whirl
of intense feeling, and he drank to steady himself.
Then he went to see his mother. He wanted a
few words with her, about " the black-a-visored

A Reconstructed Marriage 337

He found Traquair House topsy-turvy. Chris
tina was giving a dance and there was no privacy
anywhere, but in his mother's room. She was dressed
for the occasion, and wearing her pearl and diamond
ornaments, and he had a moment's surprise and
pleasure in her appearance.

" Christina is giving a bit dance," she said apolo
getically, " and the house is at sixes and sevens. It
is the way o' young things. They must turn every
thing upside down. You look badly, Robert.
What's wrong wi' you? "

" I have found Theodora."

" No wonder you look miserable. Where is she? "

" In California."

" Just the place for the like o' her. It is not
past my memory, Robert, when the scum o' the whole
earth was running there. She did right to go where
she belongs."

" Hush, mother ! The Wyntons have been stay
ing with her for two weeks and they were well
entertained. She has a beautiful home, Isabel says."

" Have you seen Isabel? "

" For an hour or two. She sent her love to you."

" She can keep it. If it isn't worth bringing, it
isn't worth having."

" Mother, you once spoke to me of a dark man
staying at the Oliphants', and asked if Theodora
had gone away with him. What made you ask that
question? "

' Weel, Robert, she was always flitting quiet-like
between this house and the Oliphants' ; and twice he

338 A Reconstructed Marriage

walked with her to the top o' the street, and they
were a gey long time in holding hands, and saying

" Why did you not tell me then? "

" I wanted to let the cutty tak' her run, and to
see how far she would go. I had my een on her."

" I feel sure he is living near her, in California."

" Very close, indeed, no doubt o' that pitying
and comforting her. Why don't you do your own
pitying?" she asked scornfully.

" I am going to California to-morrow."

" Don't ! You'll get yoursel' shot, or tarred and
feathered, or maybe lynched. Those West Amer
icans are an unbidable lot; they are a law to them
selves, and a very bad law, generally speaking. Bide
at hame, and save your life. What for will you go
seeking sorrow? "

" I want my son. Isabel says he is a very prince
among boys of his age."

" No doubt o' it. There's enough Campbell in
him to set him head and shoulders over ordinary
lads. But you send men now, that you know where
to send them, and let them get the lad away. They'll
either coax or carry him."

" I want to see Theodora."

"If you have a thimbleful o' sense, let her alone.
Old love is a dangerous thing to touch. She'll gie
you the heartache o' the world again, and you'll be

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA reconstructed marriage → online text (page 19 of 23)