Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

A reconstructed marriage online

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Then Isabel advised me to give the search up, and
leave the whole affair to Destiny. I did not mind
the money much, but I did mind terribly the talk
and the newspapers. I felt it to be a great trial
to face even my workmen."

" How did mother take the event? "

" She defied it laughed at it defended her
cruelty said she would do it all over again."

" I have no doubt of it."

" Dr. Robertson who heard the whole story from
Mrs. Oliphant came out to the works to see me,
and he said some awful things. He even told me,
that until I repented of my sinful conduct, and ac
knowledged it before a session of the Kirk officers,
he would refuse the Holy Communion."

" He did right, Robert, and I am glad to hear
that Scotch dominies are still brave enough to re
prove sin in the rich places of the Kirk."

" Then he went to mother, and told her the same


" He could do nothing with mother. She ordered

A Reconstructed Marriage 357

him to ' attend to his Kirk and his bit sermons, and
leave her household alone.' I will not repeat their
conversation you would not believe any one would
dare to browbeat a minister as she did. He forbid
her the sacramental occasion, and she ordered him
out of her house. It made a great scandal. It
made me wretched."

" What did you do about the Sabbath Day? "
" There was a new church very near to us, and
they were a struggling congregation, with a boyish
kind of minister. Mother was gladly received there.
She rented the most extravagant pew, gave one hun
dred pounds to the church fund, and took the min
ister into her personal care and protection. Chris
tina and her husband went with her. Mother owns
the Kirk and the minister, and the elders and the
deacons, and all the congregation now. Every one
praises her orthodoxy and her generosity, and she
does as she thinks right in Free St. Jude's."

David laughed heartily, and Robert continued:
" All the ladies' societies meet in Traquair House,
and all of them are prosperous. She is president of
some, treasurer of others, and she entertains all of
them with a splendid hospitality. And Christina
tells me, she never fails to speak with pitying scorn
of Dr. Robertson and his Kirk. I heard her myself
one day tell them, ' that he was clean behind the
times in Christian work. What is a Kirk worth ? '
she asked, ' without plenty of Ladies' Auxiliary So
cieties? The women in a Kirk must work, God
knows the men won't! They spin a sovereign into

358 A Reconstructed Marriage

the collection box, and think they have done their
full share. Poor things, it is maybe all they can do !
The women of Free St. Jude's must be an example
to the Robertson Kirk, and the like o' it.' '

" She is a great woman, is mother, in some ways,"
said David, and he laughed disdainfully.

" She is," answered Robert. " I think I will go
home to-morrow. Theodora no longer loves me,
and yet, David, I love her a million times more than
ever. No, I can not give her up; I can not, I will
not ! I will win her over again if I stay a year
to do it."

" You would be unworthy of love, or even life,
if you gave her up. But you are worn out and not
able to arrange yourself. Come, I will take you
to your room, and to-morrow go and ask her plainly,
if she still loves you."

" I will."



DURING the following three weeks, Robert lived in
an earthly paradise. His brother drew him with
cords of strong wisdom and affection always into the
ways of pleasantness and peace. Theodora grew
every day more lovely and more familiar; her little
coolnesses vanished in the warmth of Robert's smiles,
her shy pride was conquered by his persistent and
passionate wooing; and the days went by in a glory
of innocent amusements. Theodora and little David
were clever and fearless riders, and they soon made
the accomplishment easy to Robert, who was de
lighted with its joyful mastery, and greatly disap
pointed if bad weather, or any other event, prevented
their morning gallop.

Very frequently he accompanied his brother into
San Francisco, met many of her great financiers and
merchants, and was their guest at such elaborate
lunches and dinners as he had never dreamed pos
sible. Or, he went with Mr. Newton to his vine
yard and watched the process of raisin-making. And
Theodora had a dance for him, and the lovely young
girls present taught him the American steps, and
made him wonder over their beauty, their brightness,
their perfect ease of manner, and their manifest su
periority and authority over male adorers, who ap-


360 A Reconstructed Marriage

peared to be perfectly delighted with their own sub
jugation. A full course at the greatest university in
the world would not have given him such a civilizing
social education as the pretty girls of San Francisco
did in a month.

But all things come to an end, and one day Robert
received two letters which compelled a pause in this
pleasant life. They were from his mother and his
head manager. His mother wrote: "You be to
come home, Robert Campbell; everything is going
to the mischief wanting you! I am hearing that
the men are on strike at the works, and that the
fires have been banked, and the gates locked. Jamie
Rathey is drinking too much wine and neglecting his
business, and Christina is whimpering and scolding,
for she knows well he will not behave himself until he
gets the word from you. As for myself, I am barely
holding up against the great strain, for there's none
to help me, Christina having trouble enough in her
own shoes, and My Lady Wynton having almost
forgotten the way to her own home, since she was
promoted to a residence in Wynton Castle. So,
Robert, my lad, come back as quick as you can, for
your mother is sorely needing you."

He showed this letter to his brother, and David
only smiled. " Let me see your manager's letter,
Robert," he asked, and when he had read it, he
smiled still more significantly.

" I do not think your letters need give you any
anxiety, Robert," he said. " The letter from An
drew Starkie, your manager, is dated two days later

A Reconstructed Marriage 361

than mother's, and he does not even name a strike
among your workers. He seems troubled only be
cause the orders are so large he is afraid that the
cash left at his command will not be sufficient to
carry them out. We can send more money to-day.
I see no necessity for you to hurry. I want you to
take a sail up to Vancouver, and another sail down
to the Isthmus. You have given me no time yet.
And what about your position with Theodora?"

" I must find that out immediately. The day after
I came, I gave her a ring she valued highly a ring
that her pupils presented to her. It had been stolen,
and I recovered it, and she was delighted when I
put it on her finger. But when I offered her the
wedding ring she returned it to me, she shook her
head, closed her eyes, and would not look at it."

" Try her again. She has changed since then. I
am sure she loves you now."

" I am just going to her," and he turned away
with such a mournful look that his brother called
him back.

" Look here, Robert," he said, " faint heart never
won fair lady, or anything else for that matter.
Your face is enough to frighten any woman. Women
do not fancy despairers."

" David you don't know what a hopeless task it
is to court your wife. She knows all your weak
points, and just how most cruelly to snub you."

"That is not Theodora's way! Speak to her
kindly, but bravely. Be straight in all you say, for
I declare to you she feels a lie."

362 A Reconstructed Marriage

" Great heavens ! I should think I know that,
David. I was often forced to break my promises
to her, or in the stress of business I forgot them;
and at last, she never noticed any promise I made.
It used to make me angry."

" What made you angry? "

" O, the change in her face, when I said I would
do anything. She never contradicted me in words,
but I knew she was mentally throwing my promise
over her shoulder. It was not pleasant."

" Very unpleasant to her."

" I meant to myself."

" Well, Robert, when you are going to ask a
woman to do you a miraculous favor, do not think
of yourself, think of her. Forget yourself, this

" O, I think constantly of Theodora."

David looked queerly at his brother, and seemed
on the point of asking him a question, but he likely
thought it useless. Robert went off trying to look
hopeful and brave, but inwardly in a muddle of
anxious uncertainty, because of his mother's letter.
He found Theodora in a shady corner of the piazza;
she was reclining in a Morris chair, and thinking
of him. Her loving smile, her happy leisure, her
morning freshness and beauty, her outstretched hand,
made an entrancing picture. He placed a chair at
her side, and sat down, and Theodora after a glance
into his face asked:

" O, knight of the rueful countenance, what
troubles you this beautiful morning ? "

A Reconstructed Marriage 363

" I have had letters from home," he answered;
" not pleasant letters."

" From your mother, then ? "

" One of them is from mother."

" She could not write a pleasant letter, and if
she could, she would not."

"Will you read it?"

" I would not cast my eyes upon anything her eyes
have looked on."

" She says enough to make it necessary for me to
go home."


" It is the only home I have. You "

" Do not include me, in any remark about your

" Once you made my home your home."

" Never! There was no such thing as home, in
Traquair House."

" But, my darling Dora my darling wife "

" I am not your wife. When I sent you the wed
ding ring back that you said was yours, not mine
I divorced myself from all a wife's duties, pains, and

' You are my wife, and nothing but my death can
make you free."

" Oh, but you are mistaken ! You made a solemn
contract with me, and you broke every condition of
that contract."

" Suppose I did, that "

" Your faithlessness made the contract null and
void "

364 A Reconstructed Marriage

" The law of England "

" I care nothing about the law of England. I
am now an American citizen."

" But, Dora, my dear, dear love, you will surely
go back to Glasgow with me? "

"Not for all creation! I would rather die."

" Am I to go back alone? That is too cruel."

" Why do you wish to go back? "

" Have you considered my business, Dora? "

" No, I have thought only of you."

" But you must think of my business. How can
you expect me to give it up? Why, the ' Campbell
Iron Works ' are almost historic. They were
founded by my great-grandfather. They are mak
ing more money under my management than ever
they did before."

" If you put your historic iron works before me,
you are not worthy of me."

" My mother's, and my sister's livelihoods are
in the works. They look to me to protect them."

" If you put your mother, and your sisters before
me, you are not worthy of me."

" They love me, Dora."

' Your mother has many investments. She is rich.
Your sisters are well married. Neither of them
would put you before their husbands, why should
you put them before your wife and son? If they
had loved you, they would not have broken up your
home, and driven your wife and child away from
you. You were a provider of cash, a giver of social
prestige to them no more."

A Reconstructed Marriage 365

" Then you expect me to give up my family, my
business, my country everything."

" I will have everything, or nothing."

She rose as she said these words, and stood look
ing into his face with eyes full of love and trouble.

" Then God help me, Theodora," he faltered,
" for this hour I die to every hope of happiness in
this life ! " He lifted her hand, and his tears
dropped on it as he kissed it. " Farewell ! Fare

He was standing before her the image of despair
ing Love, and she lifted her eyes, and they met the
passionate grief in his. She could not bear it. " Oh,
Robert ! " she sobbed, " Oh, Robert, I do love you.
I have loved none but you. I never shall love any
other." She laid her head against his shoulder, and
he silently kissed her many times, and then went
slowly away.

He went straight to his brother with his sorrow,
and David listened in grave silence, until the story
of the interview was over. Then he said softly:

"Poor Theodora!"

Robert was astonished, even hurt by the exclama
tion. "Why do you pity Theodora?" he asked.
" It is I you ought to pity."

" You ought to have had pity on yourself, Rob
ert. Of course, you are miserable, and you will be
far more miserable. How could you bear to give
your wife such a cowardly disappointment; how could
you do it? "

" I do not understand you, David cowardly "

366 A Reconstructed Marriage

11 Yes, that is the word for it. You have been
persuading her for a month, that you loved her be
fore, and above, all earthly things. As you noticed,
she did not at first believe this, but I am sure the
last two weeks she has taken all your protestations
into her heart."

" I told her nothing but the truth."

" And as soon as you think she loves you "

" She does love me she says so."

" You take advantage of her love, and ask her to
go back to a life that almost killed her, before she
fled from it. Poor Theodora 1 And I call your act
a selfish, cowardly one."

" What did you expect me to do? "

" To give up everything for her."

" To give up the works the Campbell Iron
Works! To give them up! Sell them perhaps at
a loss! Did you expect I would do this? "

" I did. I supposed you wished her to be again
your wife."

" You know I wished it."

" I do not believe you. I think as your holiday
was over, you wished to back out of your promise,
and you knew the easiest way to do so was to require
her to go back to Glasgow."

" Back out! What do you mean, David? "

" Your mother orders you home, and rather than
offend her, or meet her sarcasms, you ask Theodora
to do what you well know she will never do. Hav
ing taught her to love you again, you make her an
offer that it is impossible for her to accept; then

A Reconstructed Marriage 367

you leave her to suffer once more the pang of wrong
and despairing love. Cowardly is too mild a word;
your conduct is that of a scoundrel."

" My God, David, are you turning against me? "

" Robert, Robert ! I am ashamed of you. Sup
pose Theodora went back to Glasgow with you, what
would be her position, and what would people espe
cially women say about it? She would be a wife
who ran away from her husband, but whom her hus
band discovered, and brought back to her duties.
Upon this text, what cutting, cruel speeches mother
and all the women in your set would make. The
position would be a triumph for you some men
would envy and admire you, all would praise you for
standing up so persistently for the authority of the
male. But poor Theodora, who would stand by

" I would."

" And your defence of your wife would be counted
as a thing chivalrous and magnanimous in you, but
it would be disgraceful in her to require it. She,
the poor innocent one, would get all the blame and
the shame, you, the guilty one "

" Stop, David ! I never thought of her return in
this light."

" I can imagine mother and the rest of the women
chortling and glorying over the runaway wife
brought back."

" I tell you, I would stand by her through thick
and thin."

" But you could not prevent the women hounding

368 A Reconstructed Marriage

her, and upon my honor, Robert, she would deserve

" No, David. She would not deserve it."

" I say she would."

"What for?"

" For coming back with you. Every woman with
a particle of self-respect would feel that she had be
trayed her sex, and dishonored her wifehood, and
they would despise, and speak ill of her for doing
so. And she would deserve it."

" Then all this month you have been expecting me
to come here to live? "

" There was no other manly and gentlemanly way
out of your dilemma ; and your coming at all author
ized the expectation."

" The iron works are not all, David. Do you
think I care nothing for my family, and my coun
try? "

" Do you think you are the only person who cares
for their family? What about Theodora's feelings?
Her father gave up his ministry, and taking his wife
and the savings of his whole life, he came here to
the ends of the earth with his child, because you had
treated her and her son cruelly. Now you ask her
to leave them here, in a new country, where they
have not one relative in their old age "

" I forgot their claim. I will pay all their ex
penses back to England."

" Mrs. Newton could not bear the journey back.
Mr. Newton has lost all his interests in England;
what money they have is invested here. Oh, if you

A Reconstructed Marriage 369

do not Instantly see their pitiful condition without
their daughter, it is useless to explain it to you. Then
there is their grandchild. He is the light of their
life. If their grandchild was taken away, they would
be bereft indeed."

" Their grandchild is my son. My claim is para
mount. I must have my boy at all hazards. I want
him educated in Scotland, and brought up a Scotch
man, not an American. He will be heir to the
works, and must understand the people, and the con
ditions he has to live with, and work with."

" You will never make a Scotchman of Davie.
You will never get him out of this country, or this
state. You will never make an iron-worker of
David, he loves too well the free, and open-air life;
and the blue skies, and sunshine."

" He is under authority, and must come."

" Under his mother's authority yet, and mind this,
Robert, you will not be permitted to take him from
her; not be permitted, I say."

" My God, what am I to do? "

" Do right. There is no other way to be happy."

" There are two rights here, my mother and my
sisters have claims as well as my wife and my

" Then for God's sake go to your mother and
your sisters! Why did you come to me for advice,
when you are still tied to your mother's apron-

" Now, you are angry at me."

" Yes, and justly so. But if you are bent on Glas-

370 A Reconstructed Marriage

gow, the sooner you start for the dismal city, the

" I will go at once. Will you let some one drive
me to San Francisco?"

" I will tell Saki to bring a buggy to the door in

u Don't go away from me, David don't do that !
I am miserable enough without your desertion."

" I am disappointed in you, Robert sorely, sorely
disappointed. I have had a dream about our future
lives together, and it is, it seems, only a dream.
Good-bye, Robert! I do not feel able to watch the
ending of all my hopes, so Saki will drive you to
the city. And you, too, will be better alone. Good
bye, good-bye ! "

So they parted, and Robert was driven into the
city and took his ticket for the next train bound for
New York. He had some hours to wait, and he
went to the hotel he had frequented with his brother,
and sat down in the office. Undoubtedly there was
a secret hope in his heart, that David would follow
him, and he watched with anxiety every newcomer.
But David did not follow him, and when he could
wait no longer, he went to his train. Bitter disquiet
and uncertainty wrung his heart, and he was glad
when the moving train permitted him to isolate him
self in a dismal, sullen stillness.

He had also a violent nervous headache, and physi
cal pain was a thing he knew so little about, that
he was astonished at his suffering, and resented it.
"And this is the end of everything! " he muttered

A Reconstructed Marriage 371

to himself, " the end of everything! It was brutal
to expect me to give up my business, my family, and
my country," and then he ceased, for something re
minded him that Theodora had once made that same
sacrifice for him. In any crisis the " set " of the
life will count, and the " set " of Robert's life was
selfishness. This passion now boldly combated all
dissent from his personal satisfaction, denied any
supremacy but his will, drowned the voice of Honor,
the pleadings of Love, and insisted on his own pleas
ure and interest, at all costs.

Sorrow, if it be possible, takes refuge in sleep; but
sleep was far from Robert Campbell. His body
was racked with physical suffering that he knew not
how to alleviate; his soul was aching in all its senses.
He was assailed by memories, every one of which
he would like to have met with a shriek. All he
loved was behind him, every moment he was leaving
them further behind. And his God dwelt or
visited only in sacred buildings. He never thought
of Him as in a railway car, never supposed Him to
be observant of the trouble between his wife and
himself, would not have believed that there was pres
ent an Omniscent Eye, looking with ancient kindness
on all his pain, and ready to relieve it. And oh, the
terror of those long nights, when suffering, sorrow,
and remorse were riotous, and where to him, God
was not!

On the second day, the conductor began to watch
Campbell. He induced him to take a cup of strong
coffee and lie down, and then went among the pas-

372 A Reconstructed Marriage

sengers seeking a physician. " I am a physician,"
said a young man whose seat was not far from Rob
ert's. " I am Dr. Stuart of San Francisco. I
have been watching the man you mean; he is either
insane or ill. I will not neglect him."

Robert was really ill; he grew better and worse,
better and worse constantly, until they were near
Denver. Then Dr. Stuart went to his side and made
another effort to induce him to converse. " You are
ill," he said. " I am a physician and know it. You
must stop travelling for a few days. Get off at
Denver. Where is your home?"

" In Scotland. I am going there."

" Impossible as you now are. Get off at Den
ver. Go to an hotel, and send for this physician,"
and he handed him a slip of paper on which the
name was written. Robert glanced at it, and held it
in his hand.

" Put it in your vest pocket."

He did so, but his hands trembled so violently,
and he looked into the man's face with eyes so full
of unspeakable suffering and sorrow, that the stran
ger's heart was touched. He resolved to get off at
Denver with him, and see that he was properly at
tended to.

" What is your name? " he asked.

" I am Robert Campbell."

" Brother of David Campbell of San Francisco? "

" Yes."

" He is as good a man as ever lived. I know him

A Reconstructed Marriage 373

" Write and tell him his brother is dying he will
come to me."

" Oh, no ! you are not dying. We will not bring
him such a long journey. I will stay with you, until
you are better but off the train you must get."

" Thank you ! I will do as you say. I will pay
you well."

" I am not thinking of ' pay.' I know your
brother, it is pay enough to serve him, by helping

Robert nodded and tried to smile. He put his
hand into the doctor's hand, went with him to a car
riage, and they were driven to an hotel. During
the change, he did not speak, he had all that he could
manage, to keep himself erect and preserve his con
sciousness. But there are mystically in our faces,
certain characters, which carry in them the motto
of our souls; and the motto the doctor read on Rob
ert's face was No Surrender. He told himself
this, when he had got his patient into bed, and sur
rounded him with darkness and stillness and given
him a sedative. " Some men would proceed to have
brain fever," he mused, " but not this man. He
will fight off sickness, resent it, deny it, and rise
above it in a few days. I'll give him a week but
he will not succumb. There's no surrender in that
face, though it is white and thin with suffering."

For four days, however, Robert wavered between
better and worse, as the gusts of frantic remorse and
despair assailed him. Then he forgot everything but
the irreparable mistake that had ruined his life, and

374 A Reconstructed Marriage

during the paroxysms whispered continually: " Oh,
God! oh, God! that it were possible to undo things
done ! " a whisper that could hardly be heard by
mortal ears, but which passed beyond the constella
tions, and reached the ear and the heart of Him, who
dwelleth in the Heaven of Heavens.

It was in one of those awful encounters of the
soul with itself, that he reached the depth of suffer
ing in which we see clearly; for there is no such
revealer as sorrow. Suddenly and swift as a flash
of light, he knew his past life, as he would know
it in eternity its selfishness, its cruelty, its injustice.
Then he heard words which pealed through his soul,

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA reconstructed marriage → online text (page 21 of 23)