Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

A reconstructed marriage online

. (page 2 of 23)
Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA reconstructed marriage → online text (page 2 of 23)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

people as if they were made of glass."

" If he is going to marry the girl, why
should he object to tell us about her? Is she

1 8 A Reconstructed Marriage

too good to talk about? Such perfect unreason
ableness ! "

" He wished to tell us in his own time, and way,
and thought a plot had been laid to force his con
fidence. Robert Campbell is a very suspicious man.
He has a bad temper too. It is always near at
hand, and short as a cat's hair. And he hates a


"So do I. Goodness knows, I have always lifted
myself above the ordinary of quarrelling and disput
ing. Not so, Robert. He investigates the outs and
the ins of everything, and argues and argues about
the most trifling matter; but I must say, he is al
ways in the wrong. And he can keep his confidence
as long as he wants to the longer the better. I
shall never give him another opportunity."

u It is a pity you offered him one this morning,

" I do not require to be reminded, Isabel. The
whole affair, as it stands, is an utterly unspeakable
business. We will let it alone until we have more
facts, and more light given us."

" Just so," answered Isabel.

" Mother," interrupted Christina, " what do
you say about the new preacher and the col
lection? "

" I know nothing about the new preacher. Dr.
Robertson has aye got some wonderfully gifted
tongue in his pulpit, and all just to beguile the siller
out o' your purse."

" Robert said we were not to give silver."

A Reconstructed Marriage 19

" You will each of you give a silver crown piece;
that, and not a bawbee over it. As for myself, I
am not going to church at all to-morrow. I am
o'erfull of my own thoughts and trouble. God will
excuse me, I have no doubt, for He knows the heart
of a wounded mother."

" Do you know what the collection is for,
mother? "

' The Foreign Missionary Fund. I have always
been opposed to Foreign Missions. The conversion
of the heathen is in God's wise foreknowledge, and
He will accomplish it in His own way and time.
It is not clear to me that we have any right to inter
fere with His plans."

" The world will come to an end when the heathen
are converted," said Christina. " Dr. Robertson
read us prophecies to prove it, and then will occur
the Millennium, and the second coming of "

" Hush, Christina ! " cried Mrs. Campbell im
patiently. " The world is a very good world, and
suits me well enough in spite of Theodora, and the
like of her. I hope the world will not come to an
end while I live. As to the collection, you might
each of you, as I said before, give a silver crown
piece. It is enough. Young people are not expected
to give extravagantly."

" We are not young people, mother."

" You are not married people. Women without
husbands are not supposed to have money to give
away; women with husbands don't often have it
either, poor things ! "

2O A Reconstructed 'Marriage

" The greatest of all calamities is to be born a
woman," said Isabel, bitterly.

" Especially a Scotchwoman," added Mrs. Camp
bell. " I have heard that in the United States of
America women are very honorably treated. Mrs.
Oliphant, who is from New York, told me a re
spectable man always consulted his wife about his
business, and his pleasure, and all that concerns him,
* and in consequence,' she added, ' they are happy and
prosperous.' '

" I did not know Mrs. Oliphant was an Amer
ican," said Isabel. " Mr. Oliphant comes from In

"Inverness men are too far north to be fools;
and Tom Oliphant soon found out that his wife's
judgment and good sense more than doubled his
working capital. People say, ' Tom Oliphant has
been lucky,' and so he has, because he had intelli
gence enough to take his wife's advice. But this
is not a profitable or improving conversation, so near
the Sabbath. I will go to my room for an hour
or two, girls. I have much to think about."

She left them with an air of despondency, but her
daughters knew she was not really unhappy. Some
opposition to her supremacy she foresaw, but the
impending struggle interested her. She was not
afraid of it nor yet doubtful of its result.

" I know my own son, I hope," she whispered to
herself, " and as for Theodora that for Theo
dora ! " And she snapped her fingers scornfully and

A Reconstructed Marriage 21

Isabel and Christina followed their mother, taking
the long, broad stairway with much slower steps.
Their dull faces, listless tread, and monotonous
speech were in remarkable contrast to the passionate
eagerness of the elder woman, whose whole body
radiated scorn and anger. As they began the ascent,
the clock struck three, and Isabel looked at Christina,
who answered her with a slight movement of the

" He is just leaving the Caledonian Station," she

" For Theodora," replied Christina bitterly.

" How I hate that name already! "

" And the girl also, Isabel? "

" Yes, the girl also. What has she to do in our
family? The Campbells can live without her
fine ! "

" I wonder if Mrs. Robertson will ask us to meet
this new minister."

" I hope not. He will just be one of her ' divinity
lads,' with his license to preach fresh in his pocket.
They are all of them poor and sickeningly young.
No man is fit to marry until he is forty years
old, unless you want the discipline of train
ing him."

" That is some of Mrs. Oliphant's talk, Isabel."

" Mrs. Oliphant knows what she is talking about,

" I wonder what you see in that American ! "

" Everything I would like to be if I dared."

" Why do you not call on her, then? "

22 A Reconstructed Marriage

" Mother does not approve either of her conversa
tion, or her dress, Christina."

u Her dress is lovely. I wish I could dress like

" Christina Campbell ! Her neck is shockingly
uncovered, and her trains half fill a small room.
Mother says her modesty begins at her feet and
stops there; but she is certainly very clever, and her
husband waits on her like a lover. The men look
at him as if they thought him a fool, but very likely
he is the only wise man among them. What are you
going to do this afternoon? "

" Dress and then unpick the work I did yesterday.
It is all wrong."

"How interesting!"

" As much so as anything else. I should like
to practise a little, but the piano is closed on Satur

" That's all right. You always had a knack of
playing unsuitable music on Saturdays."

" Mother makes two Sundays in a week. It isn't

By this time they were on the corridor of the
floor on which their rooms were situated, and as
they stood at the door of Isabel's room, Christina
said: "At eight o'clock to-night, I wish you would
make a remark about Robert being with Theodora."

" Make it yourself, Christina."
' You know mother pays no attention to anything
I say. You are the eldest."

But at dinner time Mrs. Campbell was in a mood

A Reconstructed Marriage 23

so gloomy, that even Isabel did not care to remind
her of her son's delinquency. She did not speak
during dinner, and when tea was served she rose
from the sofa with a sigh so portentous, it caused
the footman to stand still in the middle of the draw
ing-room with the little silver kettle steaming in his
hand. She took her own cup with a sigh, and every
time she lifted it or put it down, she sighed deeply.
Very soon Isabel began to sigh also, and Christina
ventured timidly to express her feelings in the same
miserable manner. But there was no spoken ex
planation of these mournful symptoms, unless they
typified disapproval and sorrow beyond the reach of

As they sat thus with their teacups in their hands,
a little clock on the mantel struck eight. Mrs.
Campbell cast reproachful eyes upon it. " It re
minds me, Isabel," she sighed; "you said eight
o'clock, I think. My poor son! He is now enter
ing the gates of temptation."

" I should not worry, mother. Robert is quite
able to take care of himself."

Judging from the happy alacrity with which Rob
ert left the train at Kendal Station, Isabel's opinion
was well founded. He had no doubts about the
road he was taking. He leaped into a cab, left his
valise at the Crown Inn, and then rode rapidly
down the long antique street to a pretty cottage stand
ing with a church, or chapel, in a green croft sur
rounded by poplar trees.

The moon was full in the east, and the twilight

24 A Reconstructed Marriage

still lingered in the west, and in that heavenly gloam
ing a woman walked lightly towards the little gate
to welcome him. She had a tall, elastic, slender
figure, and moved with swift, graceful steps; her
white dress, in that shadowy mysterious light, giving
her an ethereal beauty beyond description.

Robert took both her hands, kissed them passion
ately, and led her to a little rustic bench under the
poplars. For a few moments they sat there, and
he filled his eyes and heart with her loveliness. Then
they went into the cottage and he found as Isabel
had predicted that tea was waiting for him. Theo
dora's mother, a woman of scrupulous neatness,
simple and unadorned, was sitting at the table; she
smiled and gave him her hand, and he sat down
beside her.

"How is Mr. Newton?" asked Robert.

" He is in his study," she answered. " He will
be here in a few minutes. He does not wish us to
wait for him."

Theodora was at Robert's right hand, and never
before had he thought her beauty so bewildering.
It had the magic of a countenance where the intellect
was of a high order, and the perfect features were
the portrait of a pure, translucent soul such as God
loves. Her eyes transfigured her, but the process
was not intentional. Her sensitive lips, her bright
soft smile, her joyful heart, the fulness of her health
and life, all these things were entrancing, and made
still more so, by an unconsciousness sincere and
natural as that of a bird, or a flower. Robert Camp-

A Reconstructed Marriage 25

bell might well feel his unworthiness, and tremble
lest so great a blessing should escape him.

In a short time Mr. Newton entered. He had
a tall, intellectual figure, with the stoop forward
and piercing glance of one straining after things in
visible. A singular unearthliness pervaded the whole
man, and his spare form appeared to be the suitable
apparel for a pure and exalted spirit. Prayer was
his native air. He prayed even in his dreams.

After some inquiries about the journey, the con
versation turned naturally to the subject of preach
ing. Robert Campbell remarked that, " Sunday
newspapers, Sunday magazines, and above all Sun
day trips down the river, had in Glasgow greatly
injured Sabbath observance and weakened the in
fluence of the pulpit."

"No, no, sir!" cried the preacher; "books,
papers, amusements, nothing, can take the place of
sermons. The face to face element is indispensable.
It is the Word made Flesh that prevails. As soon as
a real preacher appears, what crowds follow him !
Not to go back to the preachers of old, consider only
Farrar, Liddon, Spurgeon, Hyacinthe, Lacordaire,
and the great American Beecher. Think of Spur
geon for thirty years preaching twice every Sunday
to six thousand souls ! "

" Then you believe, sir, the influence of the pulpit
depends on the preacher?"

" Yes. If there is a good intelligent man in the
pulpit, there will be good intelligent men in the

26 A Reconstructed Marriage

" Then you would have only highly-cultured, up-
to-date men in the pulpit?"

" I would not have men in the pulpit whom no
one would think of listening to, out of the pulpit.
The people want sermons that bring the pulpit near
to the hearth, the table, and the counter; sermons
of homely fertility, local allusions, and personal ap
plication, such as Christ gave them. Remember for
a moment His everyday similes and parables: the
lighting of a candle, the seeking of a piece of lost
silver, the search for the lost sheep. That is one
kind of sermon that always draws hearers. There
is another kind that is irresistible to a very large
number sermons full of the spirit of Paul, reaching
out to the Heavenly Church with its invisible rites
and the splendor and music in the soul of the

There was a silence, for the preacher was pur
suing his thoughts, leaning forward with a burning
look, drinking in the joy of his own spiritual vision.

Robert broke the pause by saying: "We Scots
are used to logical and argumentative discourses,"
but he spoke in a much lower tone than was usual
to him.

" Then your preachers must talk to their congre
gations in the pulpit, as they never would think of
talking to them out of it."

" Well, we are not in favor of mingling sacred
and material things; we believe it might have a
tendency to bring preaching into contempt."

" Mr. Campbell," said Newton, " preaching is a

A Reconstructed Marriage 27

great example of the survival of the fittest. If it
could have been killed by contempt, or inefficiency,
or ignorance, or too much book learning, or by any
other cause, the imbecile sermons preached every
Sunday through the length and breadth of the land
would have killed it long ago."

" Do you then consider oratorical power a neces
sity to preaching, sir?"

" No. Other power can take its place, such as
great piety, great sincerity, the simplicity of the Gos
pel, or the personal character of the preacher. I
once heard Newman preach. He was far from what
we are accustomed to call eloquent. One long sen
tence was followed by another equally long, sepa
rated by a sharp fracture like the utterance of a
primitive saint or martyr; but also like a direct mes
sage from heaven. And never, while I live, shall
I forget the ecstasy of love and longing with which
he cried out : ' Oh that I knew where to find Him !
that I might come into His presence ! ' The church
of St. Mary was crowded with young men, and I
believe the heart of every one present burned within
him, and he longed as I did, to fall down and kiss
the feet of Christ."

Conversation akin to this sweetened the simple
meal, and after it Robert and Theodora walked up
and down the pretty lane running past the Chapel
Croft. It had a hedge of sweet-briar which per
fumed the warm, still air, and the full moon made
everything beautiful, and Theodora loveliest of all.
And though it was near the Sabbath, Robert did not

28 A Reconstructed Marriage

hold his sisters' creed regarding love-making at that
time. He could no more help telling Theodora how
beautiful she was, and how he loved her excellencies
and her beauty, than he could help breathing.

It was no new tale. He had told it to her ever
since they first met. But this night he felt he must
venture all, to win all. The light on her face, the
sweet gentleness of her voice, the touch of her hand
on his arm, all these things urged him to ask that
question, which if asked from the heart, is never
forgotten. Theodora answered it with a shy but
loving honesty. The little word which made all
things sure was softly spoken, and then the purple
Bible was given, and clasping it between their hands,
they made over it their solemnly happy promises of
eternal love and faithfulness. And what conversa
tion followed is not to be written down ; it was every
word of it in the delicious, stumbling patois of love.

The next morning Robert went to the Methodist
Chapel with Theodora, but his Calvinism was in no
degree prejudiced by the Arminian sermon, for he
did not hear a word of it. He was listening to the
tale of love in his heart, Theodora sat at his side,
and he would not have changed places with the king
on his throne. Love had thrown the gates of life
wide open for the Queen of Love to enter in, and
for the first time in all his thirty years of existence,
he knew what it was to be joyful.

He left Kendal on Monday afternoon and went to
Sheffield, and did much profitable business there.
And he was so gay and good-natured that many

A Reconstructed Marriage 29

thought they had misjudged him on former occa
sions, and that after all he was really a fine fellow.
Others wondered if he had been drinking, and no
one but a woman, the wife of one of his business
friends with whom he dined, had the wit to see, and
to say:

" The man is in love, and the girl has accepted
him poor thing! "

"Why 'poor thing,' Louise?"

" Because he will get out of love some day, and
then "

"Then, what?"

" He will be the old Robert Campbell, a little
older, a little more selfish, a little more sure
of his own infallibility, and a great deal worse-

" That will depend on the girl, Louise."

" And on circumstances ! Generally speaking,
women may write themselves circumstances' ' most
obedient servants.' They can't help it."

In spite, however, of the disagreeable journey be
tween Sheffield and Glasgow, Campbell reached
home in very good spirits. It was then four o'clock
in the afternoon, and he resolved to sleep a couple
of hours before seeing any one. He thought after
dinner would be as good a time as any for the com
munication he had to make to his family. Some
thing of a blusterer among men, he feared the woman
he called mother. His sisters he had never taken
seriously, but he remembered they would come close
to Theodora, and that it might be prudent to have

3O A Reconstructed Marriage

their good will. They certainly could make things
unpleasant if they wished to do so.

He had always been able to sleep, on his own
order to sleep, and was proud of the circumstance;
but this afternoon he had somehow lost this control.
Sleep would not obey his demand, yet he lay still,
because he had resolved to spend two hours in bed;
nevertheless he rose unrested, and decidedly anxious.

Dinner was served at seven, and he entered the
dining-room precisely at that hour. His place was
prepared for him, but the women knew better than
to fret him with exclamations, or with inquiries of
any kind. He was permitted to take his chair as
silently as if he had never missed a meal with them.
And though this behavior was in exact accord with
his own desires, it did not suit him that night. He
had seen a different kind of family life at the New-
tons', and no man is so self-reliant as to find kind in
quiries effusive and tiresome, if the kindness and in
terest is lavished on himself.

He was, however, good-tempered enough to praise
the dinner, and to say " Scotch broth and good
Scotch collops were pleasant changes from the roast
beef of old England, her Yorkshire pudding and
cherry pies." Mrs. Campbell smiled graciously at
this compliment, and answered :

" I consider collops, Robert, as the most nutritive
and delicious of all the ways in which beef is cooked.
I attribute my good health to eating them so regu
larly, and though Jepson is constantly complaining
of McNab's extravagance and ill-temper, I always

A Reconstructed Marriage 31

say, ' I don't care, Jepson, what faults McNab has,
she can cook collops.' Very few can make a good
dish of collops, so I think I am right."

" Tell Jepson I say he is to let McNab alone.
How did you like Dr. Robertson's last protege? "

" I did not go to church. I was not well. The
girls were there."

" What is your opinion, Isabel? "

" That he is very like the lave of the doctor's
wonderfuls. Mrs. Robertson told us, he had aston
ished his college by the tenderness of his conscience
and his spirituality; and when I asked her the par
ticulars, she said he had utterly refused to study the
Latin Grammar because it contained nothing spirit
ual. Greek and Hebrew, of course, for they were
necessary to a right reading of the Scriptures; but
the Latin Grammar had no spiritual relations with
literature of any kind far from it. From what
he had been told it was both idolatrous and immoral
in its outcome. I suppose he is from Argyle, for
when there was talk of expelling him for not con
forming to rules, he wrote to the Duke, and the
great Duke stood by the lad, and complimented him
on his tender conscience, and the like, and took him
under his own protection and so on. Mrs. Robert
son is of the opinion, he may come to be the Mod
erator of the Assembly with such backing."

" And what do you think? "

" I would not wonder if he did. He has the
conceit for anything, and he is a black Celt, and
very likely has their covetous eye and greedy heart.

32 A Reconstructed Marriage

He will get on, no doubt of it. Why not? The
great Duke at his back, and himself always pushing
to the front."

" I thought he was nice-looking," said Christina
timidly. " His fine black eyes were fairly ablaze
when he was preaching."

" He is a ferocious Calvinist," added Isabel.

" Well, he had fine eyes and was good-looking,"
persisted Christina.

" Good looks are nothing, Christina," said Robert
severely. " Beauty is not a moral quality."

" People who are good-looking get on in this
world. I notice that. I wish I was bonnie."

" You are well enough, Christina," said Mrs.
Campbell. " If you cannot talk more sensibly, keep

Christina with a wronged, grieved look subsided,
and Mrs. Robertson's reception for the conscientious
youth, under the Argyle protection, furnished the
conversation until the cloth was drawn, and the
ladies had trifled awhile with their walnuts and
raisins. Then Campbell rose, drank the glass of
wine that had been standing before him, and said :

" I am going to the library to smoke half-an-hour.
Then, mother, you and the girls will join me there.
I have something important to tell you."

He did not wait for an answer, and his mother
was furious at the request. " Did you notice his
tone, Isabel?" she inquired. "His words sounded
more like a command than a request. It is adding
insult to injury to summon me to his room for no-

A Reconstructed Marriage 33

body goes to the library but himself to hear the
thing he has to tell. I shall go to my own room,
and he can come there and tell me his important,

" Mother, why not send for him to return here in
half-an-hour ? "

This proposal was acceptable, and in half-an-hour
Jepson was sent with " Mrs. Campbell's compli
ments, and she hopes Mr. Campbell will return to
the dining-room, as she feels unable to bear the smell
of tobacco to-night."

Mr. Campbell uttered two words in a low voice
which sounded like " Confound it! " but he bid Jep
son tell Mrs. Campbell " he would return to the
dining-room immediately." Upon hearing which,
Mrs. Campbell took a reclining position on the sofa,
and on her face there was the satisfied, close-mouthed
smile of one who compliments herself on winning
the first move.



CAMPBELL returned to the dining-room pleasantly
enough. He placed his chair at his mother's side,
and asked: "Are you feeling ill, mother?"

" Rather, Robert, and the library is objectionable
to me, since you began to smoke there. In fact,
I have long been prejudiced against the room, for
your father had a trick of sending for me to come
there, whenever he was compelled to tell me of some
misfortune. Consequently, I have associated the li
brary with calamity, and I did not wish to hear your
important news there."

"Calamity? No, no! My news is altogether
happy and delightful. Mother, I am going to be
married in October, to the loveliest woman in the
world, and she is as good and clever as she is beau

" Married! May I ask after the lady's name? "

" Theodora Newton. Her father is the Metho
dist preacher at Kendal, a town in Westmoreland."


" Yes."

"She is an Englishwoman?"

"Of course!"

" I might have known it. I never knew a Scotch
woman called Theodora."


A Reconstructed Marriage 35

" It is a good name and suits her to perfection.
Her father belongs to the Northumberland Newtons,
a fine old family."

" It may be. I never heard of them. You say
he is a Methodist preacher? "

" A remarkable preacher. I heard him last Sun

" Robert Campbell ! Have you fairly forgotten
yourself? Methodists are Arminians, and Arminians
I hold in utter abomination, as every good Calvinist

" I know nothing about such subjects. This gen
eration, mother, is getting hold of more tolerant
ideas. But it makes no matter to me what creed
Theodora believes in. I should love her just the
same even if she were a Roman Catholic."

" A man in love, Robert, suffers from a temporary
collapse o' good sense. But when I hear you say
things like that, I think you are mad entirely."

" No, mother. I never was so happy in all my
five senses as I am now. The world was never so
beautiful, and life never so desirable, as since I loved

2 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA reconstructed marriage → online text (page 2 of 23)