Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

A reconstructed marriage online

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down at her feet for comfort."

" Did I ever down at her feet for anything? "

" If you are tired o' freedom, and easy days, tak'

A Reconstructed Marriage 339

yoursel' to California. And what about the works,
while you are seeking dool and sorrow ? "

" I shall only be gone about six weeks."

" Fiddlesticks ! You are going into captivity
settle your business before you go, and see that you
don't forget your mother and sisters' bed and board
is in it."

" I shall be back in six weeks. Good-bye, mother.
Give my love to Christina and Jamie, I will not
trouble them now."

" They are full o' their ain to-do at the present.
I'll gie them your message. Good-bye, and see you
are home, ere I send after you."

He went hastily downstairs, and could hardly be
lieve he was walking through Traquair House.
Pretty girls in dancing dresses were constantly pass
ing him, young men were standing about in groups
laughing and talking, and there was the sound of
fiddles tuning up in the distance. It was all so un
natural that it affected him like the phantasmal back
ground of a dream. And he was suffering as he
had never before suffered in all his life, for jealousy,
that brutal, overwhelming passion, had seized him,
and he was in a fire constantly growing fiercer.
Every thought he now had of Theodora fed it, and
he hastened to his club and locked himself in his
room. It was clear to him, that he must reach San
Francisco by the swiftest means possible. In his
condition, he felt delay might mean severe illness, if
not insanity.

On the third morning after this determination,

340 A Reconstructed Marriage

when he awoke he was out of sight of land. The
wind was high, and the sea rough, but he was not
sick, and the tumult of the elements suited his mood
very well. He made no friends, and his trouble had
such a strong personality, that many divined its rea

" He looks as if he was after a runaway wife,"
said one man, and his companion answered: " I do
not envy the fellow who has run away with her, he
will get no mercy from yonder husband, and as for
the wife!"

"God help her!"

" It is Campbell of the Campbell Iron Works near
Glasgow," said a third. " I never heard that he
had a wife. I shouldn't think he would care for
one. He lives only for those black, blasted furnaces.
He is happy enough among their slag and cinders,
and smoke and flame. The country round them is
like Gehenna, but it suits him better than green pas
tures and still waters. He isn't such a big man
physically, but when he is marching round among
his workers, ordering this, and abusing that, you
would think he was ten feet high, and the men are
sure of it. But Campbell isn't a bad fellow take
him by and long; he goes to Kirk regular, and when
he feels like giving, gives with both hands."

' We might ask him to join us in a game of whist."

" Nay, we had better let him alone. I think some
American has maybe stolen one o' his patents, or
got ahead o' him in some way or other; and he is
going to have it out with him face to face that

A Reconstructed Marriage 341

would be like Robert Campbell. He is in a fighting
mood anyway, and he wouldn't help our pleasure;
far from it."

This opinion seemed the general one, so on the
voyage he made no acquaintances, and when the
steamer reached New York, he went directly from
her to the railway station, and bought a ticket for
San Francisco. His train was nearly ready, and
in half-an-hour he was speeding westwards. For
a few days he noticed nothing, but after he had
passed St. Louis, he began to be astonished, and even
slightly terrified at the immense space separating him
from all he knew and loved. Often he had an
urgent feeling that he must at once turn back, and
he might have done so, if a still stronger feeling
had not urged him forward. A journey from Lon
don to Edinburgh had always appeared to him a long
one, and he had even felt Sheffield very far from
Scotland; but the vastness of the present journey
stupefied him. Before he reached San Francisco, he
was subject to attacks of sentiment about his native
city and country. He felt that he might never see
them again.

But the end came at last, and San Francisco itself
was the climax to all his wanderings. What could
induce men to travel to the extremity of creation,
and then build there a city so large and so splendid ?
How could they live and trade and make money
so far from London and Paris and the centre of
the civilized world? He went to the hotel at which
his sister had stayed, and was obliged to admit that

342 A Reconstructed Marriage

neither Glasgow, London, nor Paris had anything to
rival its luxury and splendor. He began to be inter
ested. He thought it might be worth while to dress
a little for dinner.

For to a man as insular in mind as Robert Camp
bell, the scene was amazing. He could have gone
every day for fifty years to Glasgow Exchange, and
never witnessed anything like its cosmopolitan va
riety. There did not seem to be two persons alike
in nationality, caste, or occupation. Even the Amer
icans present were as diverse as the states from which
they came. For the first time in his life it struck
Robert Campbell, that Scotchmen might not possibly
be the dominant race in all the world's great business

He forgot his absorbing trouble for awhile, or
at least it blended itself with elements that diluted
and even changed its character. Thus, he began
to fancy Theodora in her loveliest, proudest mood
walking through this motley crowd. How would
she regard him in it? How would the crowd re
gard her? He was busy with this question, when
his attention was attracted by a man who reminded
him of something known and familiar. " He at
least has the look of a Scotchman," he mused. " I
must have seen him before somewhere." If he had
kept any memory of his own face and figure, per
haps he might have traced the resemblance home.
But often as we look in our mirrors, who does not
straightway forget what manner of man, or woman,
they are?

A Reconstructed Marriage 343

For the stranger who had been able to interest
Robert Campbell was his brother David. He was
talking earnestly to two men whom Robert could not
classify. They wore no coats, or vests, and the
wide, strong leather belts with which they were
girdled had somehow a formidable look; for though
quite innocent of offensive weapons, they appeared
to promise or threaten them. David was evidently
their superior, perhaps their employer, but there was
a kind of equality unconsciously exhibited which Rob
ert wondered at, and did not approve. He felt
that under no circumstances would he have been seen
talking familiarly to men so manifestly of the lower

But when they went away, David shook hands with
them and then stood still a moment as if undecided
about his next movement; and Robert watched him
so fixedly, that he probably compelled his brother's
attention. For he suddenly lifted his eyes, and they
met Robert's eyes, and his face brightened, and he
walked rapidly forward, till he placed his hands on
Robert's shoulders, and with a glad smile cried :

" Robert, Robert Campbell ! Don't you know
me, Robert? Don't you know me? "

And Robert gazing into his eager face answered
slowly: "Are you David my brother? Are you
David Campbell, my brother David?"

"Sit down, dear ladl I am David Campbell.
Sure as death, I am your brother David. Get your
self together, and we will go and have dinner. You
look as if you were going to faint why, Robert! "

344 A Reconstructed Marriage

" I forgot dinner. I have had nothing to-day
but a cup of coffee. Oh, David, David! what a
Providence you are! How did you happen in

" I came to watch for you. I have been coming
every day for three weeks. Can you walk a few
steps now? You are requiring food. What made
you forget to eat? "

" Trouble, great trouble crazy love, and crazy
jealousy. My wife and my child have left

" I know."

" How do you know? "

" They are my dearest neighbors."

" Then you saw Isabel? "

" I did not. I was at the mine, but Theodora
told me all about her visit, and as I knew Isabel
would tell you where your wife and child were living,
I have been watching for your arrival. Come now,
and let us have something to eat. Afterwards we
will talk."

" What a splendid dining-room ! "

" Isn't it? And you will get a splendid meal! "
He called a negro and said: " Tobin, bring us the
best dinner you can serve."

The order was promptly and amply obeyed, and
before dinner was half over Robert's irritability and
faintness had vanished, and he was the usual as
sertive, domineering Robert Campbell. But not un
til they had finished eating, and were sitting in the
shady court with their cigars would David allow their

A Reconstructed Marriage 345

personal conversation to be renewed. He began it
by saying:

" You will wish to see Theodora to-morrow, I
suppose? "

" I wish to see her at once to-night."

" That will not do ! You want a good sleep, you
want a bath and a barber, and some decent clothes
on you."

" I am not going courting, David."

" Then you need not go at all. You will require
to do the best courting you ever did, or ever can
do, if you hope to get a hearing from Theodora."

" She is my wife, David, and she "

" Will be far harder to win, than ever Miss New
ton was."

" Win ! She was won long ago."

" Won and lost. You will not find this second
winning an easy one."

" How do you know so much about her? "

" I knew all about her miserable life, before I
knew her; but I finally met her at my friend Oli-

" And it was the Oliphants who told you all her
complainings. Mother never trusted them. It
seems she was right as usual."

" The Oliphants told me nothing. I heard all
her life with you from my foster-mother, McNab."

" McNab, your foster-mother, David?"

" McNab nursed, and mothered me. She was the
only mother I ever had."

" McNab ! McNab ! Now I begin to understand

346 A Reconstructed Marriage

and the Oliphants are your friends? And you
stayed with them when in Glasgow ? "

"Always. John Oliphant and I have been ac
quainted since we were lads together."

Then Robert burst into uncanny laughter and an
swered : " You are the man, David, I have been
wanting to kill all the way across the Atlantic and
across the continent." David looked at his brother
full in the eyes, as men look at a wild animal, and
asked slowly : " Why did you want to kill me, Rob
ert? What harm had I done you?"

" When I told mother Theodora had gone away
from me, her first words were : ' Has that black-a-
visored dandy, staying at the Oliphants', gone with
her ? ' She added, that she had ' seen you with
Theodora and that at parting you held her hand
and seemed very loth to leave her.' '

" Mother was altogether wrong. I never was on
any street in Glasgow with your wife. I was never
seen in public with her anywhere. I respected your
honor, as well as my own, and never by word, deed,
or even thought wronged it."

"Why should mother have told such a lie?"

" Because it is her nature to make all the trouble
she can."

"But you advised Theodora to leave me?"

" Never. She acted entirely on her father's and
mother's advice. But when I saw they had resolved
to come to the United States, and knew nothing of
the country, I told Mr. Newton about California,
and advised him to make a home here. And as

A Reconstructed Marriage 347

I and my daughters were travelling the same road,
I did do all I could, to make the long journey as
easy as possible. Could any man seeing a party
like the inexperienced minister, and his invalid wife,
daughter, and her child, do less than help them all
he could? You owe me some thanks, Robert, when
you get sane enough to pay your debt."

" I do thank you, David, and what other debt do
I owe you? Theodora had no money."

" Her father gave me money to buy two of the
best staterooms for them. He paid all their ex
penses of every kind, and he bought the house in
which they are now living, and paid for it. Since
then he has preached, and lectured, and written, and
made a very good living. He has had no necessity
to be indebted to any one. Yet if he had needed
money, I would have gladly loaned him all he re

"Oh, David, David! Forgive me. I am in
a fever. I do not know what I am saying. Ever
since my wife left me, and wronged me "

" Stop, Robert. Your wife never wronged you.
She allowed you to wrong her six years too long.
If she had not left you, she would have been dead
long ago. To-morrow, you will see what love, and
peace, and this splendid climate have done for her."

" And what has her desertion done for me? "

" If it has not taught you the priceless worth of
the loving woman you were torturing daily, it has
done nothing. Wait till you see your son, and then
try and imagine the wretched child he would have

348 A Reconstructed Marriage

been, if his mother had not braved everything for
his sake and taken him beyond the power of the un
natural woman who hated him."

" She hated him because he was called David."

" And she hated me because she wronged me. If
she had nursed me, she would have loved me. She
sent me to Lugar Hill School because she hated me,
and she would have sent your David there for the
same reason. Theodora did well, did right to take
any means to save the child from such a terrible
life. If she had not done so, she would have been
as cruel as his grandmother and father."

" My head burns, and my heart aches ! I can
say no more now, David."

" Poor lad! My heart aches for you. But there
is a happy future for Robert Campbell yet. I am
sure of it. Put all thought and feeling away until
the morning, and sleep, and sleep, as long as you

" I want to see Theodora early in the day."

" You cannot. As I told you before, the bath
and the barber and the tailor are necessary. Have
you forgotten the spotless neatness and delicacy of
Theodora's toilet? You are going a-wooing, and
you must be more careful in dressing for Theodora
Campbell than you were in dressing for Theodora

" I cannot think any longer. I will consider what
you say in the morning."

' You will be a new man, and begin a new life

A Reconstructed Marriage 349

" I want the old life."

" You do not. And you will never get it. The
old life has gone forever."

In the morning he did not even want it. He
he had slept profoundly, and when he had made
all preparations for his visit to Theodora, he was
quite pleased with his renovated appearance. David
spoke of sending a message to her, but Robert
thought a surprise visit would be best for himself.
He would not give his wife an opportunity to sit
down and recall all his past offences, and arrange
the mood in which she would meet him, and the
words she would say.

" We do not require to hurry," said David. " She
is dismissing her classes for the summer holidays
to-day, and will not be at liberty until near three
o'clock. So we will eat lunch here, and then drive
leisurely over to Newton Place."

Robert shrugged his shoulders impatiently. He
thought his brother was much too leisurely, but when
they were rolling pleasantly along through the beau
tiful land, he was not disposed to complain. It
was indeed a New World to him. Half-a-mile from
the Newton dwelling, they heard voices and laugh
ter, and the clatter of horses' feet going at full speed,
and immediately there came into view three young
riders two girls, and a tall, gallant-looking lad as
their escort.

" Look, Robert, look! " cried David, much excited.
" Here come my two girls, and your own little lad.
They are racing, and will not stop. Be ready to

350 A Reconstructed Marriage

give them a 'bravo!' in passing." He had hardly
finished speaking, ere the gay, laughing party were
behind them. They were all in white linen, and
the girls' long bright hair was flowing freely, and
had pink ribbons in it; and the boy had a black
ribbon at his knees, and on his shoes, and an eagle's
feather in his cap. And their bright faces were full
of light and mirth, and their voices a living tongue
of gladness, as they passed crying joyously, " Uncle
David!, Papa! Papa!"

" My God! " ejaculated Robert. " Is it possible?
Can that be my little David? "

" It is your David." Then both men were silent,
until Robert heard his brother say, " This is
Newton Place," and he looked in astonishment at
the house they were approaching. " It is a lovely
spot," he said, " and there is a great deal of land
round it."

" Yes, Newton made a good investment. The
land has increased in value steadily ever since he
bought it. You had better get out at this turning.
I will take the buggy to the stable, and you can go
to the door and ring for admittance." Robert did
not like to object, and he did as directed. The door
was standing wide open, but he rang the bell. A
Japanese boy answered the summons, and opening a
parlor he told Robert to take a seat. " Your card,
sir," he asked, holding out the little tray to receive it.

Robert grew red and angry, but he took a card
from his pocketbook, and threw it upon the tray,
and when the boy had left the room he laughed bit-

A Reconstructed Marriage 351

terly, and muttered: "It is a fine thing for Robert
Campbell to send his visiting card to his wife." He
would not sit down, but stood glaring around the
cool, dusky room, so comforting after the heat and
sunshine. " I suppose I shall be kept waiting while
my wife considers whether to see me or not; but
she may consider too long. I will not be snubbed
by any woman living."

As he made this resolution, Theodora entered.
She came forward with both hands extended, and
her face was radiant, and her voice full of happy
tones. He would have taken her in his arms, but
she kept his hands in hers and led him to a seat.
Then Mr. Newton came in with David, and he threw
open the windows, and let in the sunshine, and Theo
dora was revealed in all her splendid beauty. In a
long white dress, with a white rose in her hair, she
lacked nothing that rich materials or vivid colors
could have given her. Her beautiful hair, her
sparkling eyes, her exquisite complexion, the potent
sense of health and vitality which was her atmos
phere, commanded instant delight and admiration;
and Robert could only gaze and wonder. How had
this brilliant woman been evolved from the pale,
frail, perishing Theodora he had last seen?

In a short time the three men went out together
to look at the fruit trees and the wonderful flowers,
and Theodora assisted her mother to prepare such a
meal as she knew Robert enjoyed; and when they
sat down to it, she placed Robert at her right hand.
They were still at the table when David came gallop-

352 A Reconstructed Marriage

ing home, and in a few minutes he entered the room.
Every eye was turned on the boy, but he saw at first
no one but his uncle.

"Cousin Agnes won!" he cried, "won by two
lengths, uncle. Isn't she great? " Then he noticed
his father, and for a few moments seemed puzzled.
There was not a word, not a movement as the boy
gazed. Theodora held her breath in suspense. But
it was only for a few moments; joyfully he ex-
clakned: " I know! I know! " and the next instant
his arms were round his father's neck, and he was
crying, "It is father! Father, father! Let me sit
beside him, mother." And Theodora made room
for the boy's chair between them.

The evening was a revelation to the discarded hus
band. Theodora sang wonderfully some American
songs that Robert had never before heard music
with a charm entirely fresh and new; and David re
cited an English and Latin lesson, and then at his
uncle's request, spoke in good broad Scotch Robert
Burns' grand lyric, " A Man's a Man for a' That."
Robert said little, but he drew the lad between his
knees, and whispered something to him which trans
figured the child's face. He trusted his father im
plicitly, he always had done, and his father had a
heartache that night, when he thought of the wrong
that might have been done to the helpless child.

Soon after nine o'clock, David Campbell said:
" Come, brother, we have a short ride before us,
and I like to close my house at ten; also I am sure
you are weary."

A Reconstructed Marriage 353

Robert said he was, but he rose more like a man
that had received a blow, than one simply tired. He
could scarcely speak his adieus and he could not
answer Theodora's invitation to " call early on the
following day " except in single words. " Yes no

They were outside the Newton grounds before he
spoke to his brother, then he said: "David, it is
too hard. I don't understand. She never asked
me to stay the Wyntons were asked. I feel as
if I had no business here. I had better go back
to Glasgow. I will go back to-morrow."

"It is not her house. She rents her classroom,
and pays her own and her child's board and lodging
there. That is all. She had no right to ask you
to remain. It is Mr. Newton's house, and he re
ceived you in a Christian and gentlemanly spirit. I
do not care to say how I would have received a man
who had treated my Agnes, or Flora, in the way
Theodora was treated."

" I will go back to Glasgow to-morrow."

" You will do so at the peril of all your future
happiness and prosperity."

Then they were silent until they reached a great
white house standing in green depths of sweet foliage.
Robert wondered and admired. Its vast hall, and
the spacious room, so splendidly furnished, into which
his brother led him, filled him with astonishment.
Two pretty girls were sitting at a table drawing
embroidery patterns, and they nearly threw the table
over in their delight when their father entered.

354 A Reconstructed Marriage

" Here is your Uncle Robert Campbell! " he cried
joyously. " Give him some of your noisy welcome,
and then run away, you little cherubs, or you will
miss your beauty sleep."

They were soon alone, and David turned out some
of the lights and placed a box of cigars on the table,
and the two men smoked in silence for a little while.
Then Robert said : " You are very rich, I suppose,

" Yes, I am tolerably well off."

"And very happy?"

" As happy as a man can be, who has lost the
dearest and sweetest of wives."

" But you will marry again? "

"Not until my daughters are married! I will
never give them a stepmother; she might make me
a stepfather. But when they are settled, I may
marry again."

" Do you know any one likely to take the place
of your dead wife? "

" No one can ever take her place. There is a
very noble woman who may make her own place in
my heart and home. I think it would be a very
strong, sweet place."

"Is she Scotch?"

" No."


11 No."


" Spanish-American."


A Reconstructed Marriage 355

" Very and of lovely disposition and great at
tainments. She is also rich, but that I do not count."

" What is her name ? "

" Mercedes Morena. She is a Roman Catholic,
a woman of fervent piety."

" Spanish. And a Papist. What will mother

" All kinds of hard things no doubt though
money makes a good deal of difference in mother's
conclusions. But I care nothing for her opinion;
a wife is a man's most sacred and personal relation.
No one has a right to object to the woman he chooses.
It is no one's business but his own."

" When I married Theodora, she looked as she
looked to-night, only to-night she is far more lovely.
Oh, David, I cannot give her up ! She is tied to
me by my heart-strings. I shall cease to live, if she
refuses me."

" And, Robert, she is good as she is lovely. I
marvel that you could live six years at her side, and
not grow into her spiritual and mental likeness."

" The Campbells have a strong individuality,

" I tell you frankly, she has lifted me upward
almost unconsciously. I would not do the things
to-day I did without uneasiness four years ago. For
instance, I would not to-day go into my mother's
home and presence unknown to her. I would not
to-day visit you and your works as a stranger. I
enjoyed the incognito four years ago. It appears
to me now dishonorable and vulgar. No one has

356 A Reconstructed Marriage

told me so, or corrected me for it the knowledge
came with the gradual and general uplift of my
ideals, through companionship and conversation with
your wife. How did you escape her sweet in
fluences? "

" I kept out of their way."

" Did you never make any effort to find your wife
and child?"

" I spent four thousand pounds looking for her.

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA reconstructed marriage → online text (page 20 of 23)