Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

A reconstructed marriage online

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glad he had gone with them to the boat, and glad
that he had given them a parting token of his broth
erly care, and he felt that he could now turn cheer
fully to his own pressing but delightful affairs.

He was singularly happy in them, and really glad
to be rid of all advice and interference. Men who
had known him for many years, wondered at his
boyish joyfulness. He was a different Robert Camp
bell, but then it was generally known he was in love,
and all the world loves a lover. No one was cruel
or malicious enough to warn, or advise, or shadow
the glory of his expectations by any doubt of their
full accomplishment. The initiated gossiped among
themselves, and some said: " Campbell is a fool to
be making such a fuss about any woman;" and
others spoke of Mrs. Traquair Campbell, and " won
dered how the English girl would manage her."

' The poor lassie will be at her mercy," said one
old man.

54 ^ Reconstructed Marriage

" She will," answered his companion, " for the
Traquair Campbells' ways will be dark to a stranger.
It takes a Scotchwoman to match a Scotchwoman."

" Yet I have heard that the old lady is a wonder
o' good sense and prudence. Her husband was a
useless body, but she managed him fine, and was one
o' those women that are a crown to their husbands."

The first speaker laughed peculiarly. " Man,
David! " he said, " little you ken, if you take King
Solomon's ideas of a comfortable wife to live wi'.
The women who are a crown to a poor man are
generally a crown o' thorns, I'm thinking."

But no doubts or fears troubled Robert Campbell.
He thought only of his marvellous fortune in win
ning a woman so lovely and so good. He was not
unmindful of either her intellect or her education,,
but he did not talk of these excellencies, even to his
chief friend Archie St. Claire. He had a feeling
that intellect and learning were masculine attributes,
and he preferred to dwell entirely on the sweet femi
nine virtues of his beloved. But this, or that, there
was no other woman in the world but Theodora to
Robert Campbell, for lovers are selfish creatures,
and Lord Beaconsfield says truly : " To a man in
love, all other women are uninteresting, if not re

So the days and the weeks went happily past, in
preparing a home for Theodora. He went over
and over very frequently the last few words " a.
home for Theodora ! " and they sung, and swung,
and shone in his heart, and made his life a fairy

A Reconstructed Marriage 55

story. " I never knew what it was to be happy
before," he said repeatedly; and it was the truth,
for up to this time he had never felt the joy of that
mystical blending of two souls, when self is lost and
found again in the being of another.

Twice he took a trip to Campbelton, and found
all to his satisfaction. His mother was surrounded
by her kindred, a situation a Scotch man or woman
tolerates with an equanimity that is astonishing; and
Isabel and Christina wore their usual air of placid
indifference to everything. They were all desirous
to know what had been done in the house, but he
refused to enter into explanations. " It is ill prais
ing or banning half-done work," he said in excuse,
" but I promise on my next visit to take you home
with me, and then you will see the work finished."

" And then you will go and get married? " asked
Christina, and he answered with a smile, " Then I
shall go and get married."

" When you bring Theodora home she will give
us a little pleasure, I hope."

" I am sure she will. Theodora is fond of com
pany and entertainments, and she will wish you to
share them with us, and that will add to my pleasure

" We shall see."
" Do you doubt what I say? "
" My dreams never come true, Robert."
" Theodora will make them come true."
Then Christina laughed a little, and Isabel looked
at her mother's dour, scornful face and copied it.

56 A Reconstructed Marriage

Robert noticed the expression, and he asked pleas
antly: "What kind of summer have you had, Isa

" Exactly the summer we expected. Sometimes
the minister called, and talked in an exciting manner
about Calvinism, and the smallpox; and we have
been surrounded by a crowd of relatives. Mother
has enjoyed them very much; she had not seen some
of her fourth and fifth cousins for nearly seven years ;
they had increased in number considerably during
that interval, and their names, and dispositions, the
sicknesses they had been through, the various talents
they showed, have all been to talk over a great many
times. Oh, mother has enjoyed it much ! It makes
no matter about Christina and myself."

" It does make matter, Isabel. This coming win
ter I intend to see you go out as much as you

" Thank you, brother. Christina will enjoy the
opportunities. I have outlived the desire for amuse
ments. I would rather travel, and see places and
famous things. People no longer interest me."

" I think with a little inquiry that can be man
aged. I am so happy, Isabel, I wish every one else
to be happy."

She looked at her brother wonderingly, and at
night as the sisters sat doing their hair in Christina's
room she said: "Love must be an amazing thing,
Christina, to change any one the way it has changed
Robert Campbell. The man has been in a sense
converted he has found grace, whether it be the

A Reconstructed Marriage 57

grace of God, or the grace of Love, I know not, no,
nor anybody else just yet."

" St. John says, ' God is love.' I have often won
dered about those words."

" Then keep your wonder. If you ask for ex
planations about things, all the wonder and the
beauty goes out of them. When I was at school,
and had to pull a rose to pieces and write down all
the Latin names of its structure, its beauty was
gone. The rose was explained to us, but it wasn't
a rose any longer. God is Love. We will thank
St. John for telling us that beautiful truth, but we
will not ask for explanations. Maybe you may
find out some day all that Love means. You are
not too old, and would be handsome if you were
dressed becomingly, and were happy."


" Yes. Happiness makes people beautiful. Look
at Robert. He was rather good-looking before he
was in love, he is now a very handsome man. Theo
dora has worked wonders in his appearance."

" He takes more pains with his dress."

" That helps, of course."

" My hair is very good yet, Isabel."

" You have splendid hair, and fine eyes. Properly
dressed you would not look over twenty-two years

" You think so, because you love me a little."

" I love you better than I love anything else. We
have suffered a great deal together. I do not mean
afflictions and big troubles, but a lifelong, never-

58 A Reconstructed Marriage

lifted repression and depression, and a perfect starva
tion of heart and soul."

" Not soul, Isabel. We could always go to the
Kirk, and we had our Bible and good books, and the

" It was all dead comfort. There was no life,
no love in it."

" Maybe it was our fault, perhaps we ought to
have stood up for our rights. Girls have begun to
do so now."

"We may be to blame, who knows? Good

Three weeks after this conversation, Robert came
to Campbelton for his mother and sisters. He was
in the same glad mood, and what was still more re
markable, patient and cheerful with all the small
worries and explanations and contradictory directions
of Mrs. Campbell. She was carrying back to Glas
gow two Skye terriers, a tortoise-shell cat, presents
of kippered herring and cheeses, and, above all, a
tiny marmoset monkey given her by a third cousin,
who was master of a sailing vessel trading to South
American ports. She was immoderately fond and
proud of this gift, and no one but Robert was al
lowed to carry the basket in which it was cradled
in soft wool.

But encumbered on every hand and charged con
tinually about this, that, and the other, Robert kept
his temper better than his sisters; and at length, with
the help of two or three vehicles, brought all safely
to Traquair House. Now, if Mrs. Campbell had

A Reconstructed Marriage 59

thus loaded and impeded herself and her whole fam
ily for the very purpose of making their entry into
the renovated home a scene of confusion, in which
it was impossible to observe things, she could not
have succeeded better. Christina, indeed, uttered an
exclamation of delight, but the great interest of all
parties was to get rid of their various impediments.
Each of the girls had a Skye terrier, Mrs. Campbell
had the cat, Robert the marmoset, and there were
bundles, bonnet boxes, parcels, umbrellas, parasols,
rugs, etc., all to be carried in, counted, and checked
off Mrs. Campbell's list of her belongings.

But in an hour the confusion had settled, and by
the time the travellers had removed their hats and
wraps and washed and dressed, a good dinner was
on the table. It put every one in a more agreeable
temper, and when they had eaten it, there was still
light enough to examine the changes that had been
made. Mrs. Campbell declared she was tired, but
she could not resist the offer of Robert's arm and
the way in which he said: " Come, mother, I shall
not be happy without your approval; I never knew
you to be tired with any day's work, no matter how
it might tire others."

The compliment won her. She rose instantly, and
leaning on her son's arm passed into the hall. It
had been dark and gloomy, though fairly handsome.
It was now finished in the palest shades, was light
and airy and looked much larger. Where the cases
of impaled beetles and crucified butterflies had stood,
there were pots of ferns and flowers, and the special

60 A Reconstructed Marriage

furniture necessary was of light woods and modern
designs. All the rooms leading from this hall were
richly and elegantly furnished; the same idea of
lightness and gracefulness being admirably carried
out. Nothing had been forgotten, even the most
trivial toilet articles were present in their most beau
tiful form. Isabel lifted some of these, and asked:
"How did you know about such things, Robert?"

" I did not know, Isabel," he answered, " but I
went to a place where such things are sold, and told
them to fit a lady's toilet perfectly, with all that ladies
use and desire. Theodora may not like the per
fumes; indeed, I do not think she uses perfume of
any kind, but they can be sent back, or changed."

"Well, Robert," said Mrs. Campbell, when all
apartments had been examined, " these rooms are fit
for a queen, and many a poor queen never had any
thing half so splendid and comfortable. Theodora
will be confounded by their richness and beauty. I
should say she never saw anything like them."

" Indeed, you are mistaken, mother. I met her
first at John Priestley's, Member of Parliament for
Sheffield, where she was the guest of his daughter,
and in their mansion the rooms are much handsomer
than anything we have here. Theodora has been
a guest in some of the finest manor houses in Eng
land. These rooms are quite modest compared with
some she has occupied."

" I think, then, she will be too fine for this family.
But Robert, I can not, and I will not, change my
ways at my time of life. I may be plain and com-

A Reconstructed Marriage 61

mon perhaps I may be vulgar in Theodora's eyes,
but "

" My dear mother, you are all a woman and a
mother should be. You represent the finest ladies
of your generation. Theodora is the fruit and flower
of a later one, different, but no better than your
own. You are everything I want. I would not
have you changed in any respect." He looked into
her face with eyes full of love, and gently pressed
her arm against his side.

Such appreciative words as these were most un
usual, and Mrs. Campbell felt them thrill her heart
with pleasure. She even half-resolved to try to like
Robert's wife, and spoke enthusiastically about the
taste her son had displayed. In the morning she
was still more delighted, for then she discovered that
her own drawing-room had been redecorated, a new
light carpet laid, and many beautiful pieces of furni
ture added to brighten its usual gloom. Nor had
Isabel's and Christina's rooms been forgotten; in
many ways they had been beautified, and only the
family dining-room had been left in the gloom of
its dark, though handsome furniture. But Robert
hoped by the following summer his mother would be
willing to have it totally changed, for he remembered
hearing Theodora say that the room in which people
eat ought to be, above all other rooms in the house,
bright, and light, and cheerful. Indeed, she thought
it a matter of well-being to eat under the happiest
circumstances possible.

In the height of the women's delight and grati-

62 A Reconstructed Marriage

tude, Robert set off on his wedding journey. His
joy infected the whole house. Even the cross Mc-
Nab and the mournful Jepson were heard laughing,
and Christina spoke of this as among the wonder-
fuls of her existence. Perhaps the one most pleased
was Mrs. Campbell. She had been surrounded by
the same depressing furniture and upholstery for
thirty-seven years, and she had almost a childish
pleasure in the new white lace curtains which had
been hung in her rooms. They gave her a sense
of youth, of something unusually happy and hope
ful. Many times in a day, she went, unknown to
any one, into the drawing-room and took the fine
lace drapery in her fingers, to examine and admire
its beauty. The girls also were more cheerful. In
deed, the tone of the house had been uplifted and
changed, and all through the influence of more light,
some graceful modern furniture, and a little alas,
that it was so little ! good will and gratitude.

On the fifth of October Robert Campbell was mar
ried, and about a week afterwards, Archie St. Claire
called one evening upon his family.

" I have just returned from Kendal," he said,
" and I thought you would like to hear about the
wedding. You were none of you there."

' We had satisfactory reasons for not going," an
swered Mrs. Campbell.

" I was Robert's best man."

" I supposed so. Robert said very little about
his arrangements. What do you think of the

A Reconstructed Marriage 63

" She is a most beautiful woman, fine-natured and
sweet-tempered, and loved by all who come near her.
Robert has found a jewel."

" How was she dressed? " asked Isabel.

" Perfectly. White satin and lace, of course, but
what I liked was the simplicity of the gown. I
heard some one call it a Princess shape. It fit her
beautiful form without a crease, and fell in long soft
folds to her white shoes."

"White shoes? Nonsense!" ejaculated Mrs.

" White shoes with diamond buckles."

" Paste buckles more likely."

" They looked like diamonds. Her veil fell back
ward and touched the bottom of her dress."

"Backward! Then of what use was it? I
thought brides wore a veil to cover their faces."

" It would have been a sin and a shame to have
covered her face. She looked like an angel. She
wore no jewels, and she carried instead of flowers
a small Bible bound in purple velvet and gold."

"Were there many present?"

" The streets were crowded, and the church was
crowded. The Blue Coat Boys a large old school
in Kendal scattered flowers before her as she
walked from the church gates to the altar; and the
old rector who had married her father and mother
was quite affected by the ceremony. He kissed and
blessed her at the altar-rail, after it was over."

" Kissed Robert Campbell's bride. Surely you
are joking, Mr. St. Claire."

64 A Reconstructed Marriage

" No, it is a common thing in English churches
after the bridal ceremony if the minister is a friend.
It was a solemn and affecting sight."

; ' Then her father did not marry her?"

" He gave her away. He could not have per
formed the ceremony in the parish church."

" Do you mean that she was not married in her
father's church?"

" She was married in the parish church, one of
the most beautiful places of worship I was ever in
a grand old edifice."

" Do you mean that my son was married in an
Episcopal church, at the very horns of an Episcopal
altar?" asked Mrs. Campbell indignantly.

" It was the most beautiful marriage service I ever
saw. And the sweet old bells chimed so joyously,
I can never forget them."

"Was there a wedding breakfast?" asked Isabel,

" About twenty guests sat down to a very prettily-
decorated breakfast table, and after the meal, Robert
and his bride began their journey through life to
gether. I have brought you some bride cake," and
he took from a box in his hand three smaller white
boxes, tied with white ribbon, and presented them.
Mrs. Campbell laid hers unopened on the table with
out a word of thanks or courtesy, and Isabel and
Christina followed her example.

" There was a crowd at the railway station," con
tinued Mr. St. Claire, " and the Blue Coat Boys met
the bride singing a wedding-hymn. Robert gave
them a noble check for their school."

A Reconstructed Marriage 65

" I'll warrant he did. The more fool he ! "

" And the last thing they heard as they left Ken-
dal must have been the church bells chiming joyfully
' Hail, Happy Morn '/ "

" Do you know where they went? Robert was
not sure when he left Scotland."

" I think I do, Mrs. Campbell. They had in
tended going through the Fife towns, and by old
St. Andrews to Wick, and so to the Orkneys and
Shetlands. But it was late in the season for this
trip, so they went to Paris and the Mediterranean.
I think they were right."

" Paris, of course. All the fools go there ! "

" Well, Mrs. Campbell, Scotland is a bleak place
for a honeymoon."

" Mr. St. Claire, if it does for a man's home, it
may do to honeymoon in. That is my opinion."

" I don't agree with you, Mrs. Campbell. A
honeymoon is a sort of transcendental existence, and
a man naturally wants to spend it as nearly in Para
dise as possible. There's no place like the Mediter
ranean for sunshine, and it is poetical and pictur
esque, and just the place for lovers."

Failing, with all his willing good nature, to rouse
any apparent interest in a subject he considered
highly interesting, he felt a little offended, and rose
to depart. But ere he reached the parlor door he
turned and said: " I had nearly forgotten one very
remarkable thing about the bride."

" Let us hear it, by all means," said Mrs. Camp

66 A Reconstructed Marriage

" I stayed a few days after the marriage, in order
to visit Windermere and Keswick Lake with Mr.
Newton by-the-by, wonderfully beautiful spots,
nothing like them in Scotland and one day while
waiting in his study, I picked up a book. Imagine
my astonishment, when I saw it had been written by
the bride."

At this information Mrs. Campbell threw up
her hands with a laugh that terminated in something
like a shriek. Isabel laid her hand on her mother's
arm, and asked: " Are you ill, mother? "

" No," she answered promptly. " I am only like
Mr. St. Claire, astonished. I need not have been.
Every girl scribbles a little now. Poetry, of course."

" You mean Mrs. Campbell's book? "

" Yes."

" On the contrary, it was a most learned and in
teresting study of ancient and sacred geography."

" A schoolbook! " and the words were scoffed out
with utter contempt.

" Then a most fascinating one. It gave the Latin
and Saxon names of our own old cities, and all the
historical and biographical incidents connected with
them. It treated the names in the Bible and ancient
history in the same way. The preacher was very
modest about it, but said it was now in all the best
schools, and that his daughter had quite a good in
come from the royalty on its sale. And he added:
' Since you have discovered her secret, I may tell
you that she has written two novels, and a volume
of ' "

A Reconstructed Marriage 67

" Plays, I dare say."

" No, ma'am, of Social Essays."

" Really, Mr. St. Claire, we can stand no more
revelations concerning the bride's perfections I Rob
ert Campbell is only a master of iron workers and
coal miners, and I fear he will feel painfully his
inferiority to such a marvellously beautiful and in
tellectual woman. As for myself, and my poor girls,
I can only say grant us patience! "

St. Claire bowed, and made a hurried exit. " Ill-
natured and envious creatures as ever I met," he
mused. "I'm sorry for Mrs. Robert! She will
have troubles great and small with those women
under her roof, and I wonder if Robert will have
the gumption to stand by her. He was always ex
traordinarily afraid of his mother. I should be
afraid of her myself. I am thankful my mother
isn't the least like her ! My mother is made of love
and sweet-temper, and she is more of a lady in her
winsey skirt and linen short gown than Mrs. Tra-
quair Campbell is in all her silk and lace and jew
elry. Thank God for His mercies! The Book says
a good wife is from the Lord. I know, by per
sonal experience, that a good mother is even more
so. I'll just write mother a letter this very night,
and tell her all about the wedding. She will enjoy
every word of it, and at the end say : ' God bless
the young things ! With His blessing they'll do weel
enough, whatever comes.' '

There was no blessing in Mrs. Campbell's heart.
She looked at her girls in silence until she heard

68 A Reconstructed Marriage

the closing of the front door, then she asked: " What
do you say to Mr. St. Claire's story?" and Isabel
answered : " I say what you said, mother grant us
patience! "

" Tut, Isabel! Patience? Nonsense! I think
little of that grace. Theodora may be a beauty, a
school-teacher, and an authoress, but we three women
can match her."

"Whatever made Robert marry her?"

" That is past speculating about! But she is the
man's choice such as it is. Doubtless he thinks her
without a fault, but, as I told you before, the bit-by-
bitness can soon change that opinion a little mus
tard seed of suspicion or difference of any kind, can
grow to a great tree. I'm telling you ! Do not
forget what I say. I am just distracted as yet with
the situation. This world is a hard place."

" I think so too, mother," said Christina, " and
it is small comfort to be told the next is probably


" I have had lots of trouble in my life, girls, but
the worst of all comes with what your father called
1 the lad and lass business.' It was that drove your
brother David beyond seas, and I have not heard a
word from him since he went away one day in a
passion. But this or that, mind you, I have always
come out of every tribulation victorious and there
is now three of us we shall be hard enough to

" Theodora has a good many points in her favor,"
said Christina.

A Reconstructed Marriage 69

" Count them up, then; count them up! She is
a beauty, a genius, an Englishwoman, a Methodist,
a teacher of women, a writer of books, and no doubt
she will try to set up the golden image of her mani
fold perfections in Traquair House but which of
us three will bow down before it ? Tell me ! Tell
me that, Christina ! "

" Not I, mother."

" Nor I," added Isabel.

" Nor I, you may take an oath on that," said Mrs.
Campbell. " And what says the Good Book, ' a
threefold cord is not easily broken?' Now you
may give me Dr. Chalmer's last sermons, and I'll
take a few words from him to settle my mind and
put me to sleep; for I am fairly distracted with the
prospect of such a monumental woman among us.
But I'll say nothing about her, one way or the other,
and then I cannot be blamed. I would advise you
both to be equally prudent."

But Isabel and Christina were not of their
mother's mind. Such a delightful bit of gossip had
never before come into their lives, and they went
to Isabel's room to talk it all over again, for Isabel
being the eldest had the largest and the best fur
nished room. Isabel made a social event of it, by
placing a little table between them, set with the
special dainties she kept for her private refreshment.
And they felt it to be a friendly and cheerful thing,
to have this special woman to season the rich cates
and fruit provided. So it had struck twelve before
Christina rose and remarked:

yo A Reconstructed Marriage

" You told me, Isabel, there were going to be
changes, and you are right. The next one will be
the home-coming, and I dare say Robert will descend
on us in the most unexpected time and way."

" You are much mistaken, Christina. I am sure
Robert will be telegraphing Jepson from every sta
tion on the road. The most trivial things will be
directed by him. Let us go to bed now; I am

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA reconstructed marriage → online text (page 4 of 23)