Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

A reconstructed marriage online

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a light gray liberty silk gown of walking length, with
a pretty white muslin waist, and an Eton jacket. A
short sash of the same silk tied at the left side was
the only trimming, and her wedding ring with its
diamond guard her only jewelry. Its simplicity
elicited her husband's ardent admiration, and she
hoped it would be satisfactory to all. But who can
please jealousy, envy, and hatred? An angel from
heaven would fail, then how should a mortal woman

" Last night," said her mother-in-law scornfully,
" my lady came sweeping into the room like a very

A Reconstructed Marriage 107

butterfly of a woman. She thought she would aston
ish us. Did she imagine the Traquair Campbells
could be snubbed by a silk dress and a string of
pearls ? And to-night she comes smiling in as modest
as a Quakeress. I am led to believe, Robert has
been giving her a few words. I know right well
she deserved them."

" Mother," said Isabel, " I dare say she wanted
us to believe that she had been used to full dress

" A likely thing in a Methodist preacher's house,
or a girl's school either."

" College, you mean, mother," corrected Chris
tina. " Or perhaps she thought if she was dressed
very fine, we would like her better. Dress does
make a deal of difference. None of us like our
cousins Kerr, because they dress so shabby."

" Speak for your own feelings, Christina. Your
sister Isabel and I always treat the Kerr girls with

" Respect is a gey cold welcome. I would not
take it twice."

" I think you are forgetting yourself, Christina,"
said Isabel.

" She has been in bad company all afternoon, Isa
bel. What can you expect? I heard her tee-
heeing and laughing with Dora, almost until dinner

And even as the old woman spoke, Robert entered
and asked his sisters to come and spend the evening
with Dora and himself. " Dora is going to sing,"

io8 A Reconstructed Marriage

he said, " and it will be a great treat for you to
hear her."

" Thank you, brother," said Isabel. " I prefer
to stay with mother."

" Perhaps mother will also come."

" No, Robert, I do not care for worldly music,
and if I did, Christina sings and plays very well."

" Robert, I shall be delighted to come," said
Christina. " You know I love music."

" You will remain with your sister and myself,

"Please, mother, let me go! Robert, please!"
and she looked so entreatingly at her brother, that
he sat down by his mother, and taking her hand
said: "You must humor me in this matter, dear
mother. I want some of you with me, and I am
sure Christina can learn a great deal from Dora.
It will cost her nothing, and she ought to take ad
vantage of Dora's skill."

The last argument prevailed. If Christina could
get any advantage for nothing, and especially from
Theodora, Mrs. Campbell approved the project.

" You may go with your brother, Christina, for
an hour, and make the most of your opportunities.
One thing is sure, the woman ought to do something
for the family, for goodness knows, we have been
put to extraordinary expense and trouble for her

A few minutes after the departure of Robert and
his sister, Mrs. Campbell said: "Open the parlor
door, Isabel, and let us hear the ' treat ' if we can."

A Reconstructed Marriage 109

But the songs Theodora sang were quite unknown
to the two listeners and Mrs. Campbell indulged her
self in much scornful criticism. " Who ever heard
the like? Do you call that music? It is just skirl
ing. I would rather hear Christina sing ' The Bush
Aboon Traquair,' or ' The Lass o' Patie's Mill,' or
a good rattling Jacobite song like ' Highland Lad
die,' or ' Over the Water to Charlie.' There is
music in the like o' them, but there isn't a note o'
it in Dora's caterwauling."

" Listen, mother ! She is singing merrily enough
now. I wonder what it is? Robert and Christina
are both laughing."

" Something wicked and theatrical, no doubt.
Shut the door, Isabel, and give me my Practice of
Piety. Then you may leave me, and go to your
room, unless you wish to join your sister."

" Mother, do not be unjust."

" In an hour remind Christina. You are a
good daughter, Isabel. You are my greatest com

"Good-night, mother; you are always first with

When Christina's hour was nearly at its close, Isa
bel went to her brother's parlor door. Theodora
was singing the sweetest little melody and her voice
was so charmful that Isabel could not tap at the
door as Christina had been instructed to do until
it ceased. And for many a day the words haunted
her, though she always told herself there was neither
sense nor reason in them.

no A Reconstructed Marriage

"If there were dreams to sell

What would you buy?
Some cost a passing bell,

Some a light sigh,
That shakes from Life's fresh crown

Only a rose leaf down,
If there were dreams to sell,

Merry and sad to tell,
And the crier rang the bell,

What would you buy?"

After this question had rung itself into her heart
and memory, she tapped at the door and Robert rose
and opened it. And when Isabel spoke they brought
her in, willing or unwilling, and made so much of
her visit that she could not deny their kindness. Be
sides, as Robert told her, they wanted a game of
whist so much, and she made it possible. " You
shall be my partner," he added, " and we are sure
to win." He was holding her hand as he spoke,
and ere he ceased, he had led her to the table and
got her a seat. Christina threw down a pack of
cards, and Isabel found it impossible to resist the
temptation, for she loved a game of whist and played
a clever hand. Then the hours slipped happily away,
and it was near midnight when the sisters stepped
softly to their rooms.

" I have had such a good time," whispered Chris

" It was a good game," answered Isabel.

" Don't you think she is nice? "


A Reconstructed Marriage in

" Yes."

" She puts on plenty of nice airs."

" I hope Robert will ask us to-morrow night."

" I shall not go again. I could not help to-night's
visit. There is no need to say anything to mother.
It would only worry her."

" In the morning she will tell us the precise mo
ment that we came upstairs. No doubt she was
watching and listening, and if we had the feet of a
mouse she would hear us."

But if Mrs. Campbell heard she made no remark
on the situation. She knew well that if Isabel was
brought face to face with her frailty, she would de
fend it, and defend all concerned in it, and also
make a point of repeating the fault in order to prove
the propriety of her position. That would be giving
Theodora too great an advantage. On the con
trary, she was in her pleasantest mood, and as Theo
dora had her coffee in her own parlor there was no
incident to mar the even temper of the breakfast

When Robert left it, he was followed so quickly
by Christina that she had an opportunity of speaking
to him as he was putting on his overcoat and gloves,
and thus to thank him for his invitation of the pre
vious evening. " I never had such a happy time
in all my life, Robert," she said, " and Theodora
does play and sing wonderfully. It is a joy to listen
to her."

"Is it not?" he queried with a beaming face.
" You were a good girl to call on her, and go out

112 A Reconstructed Marriage

with her; and I will remember you at the New Year
handsomely if you make things pleasant for Theo

" I would do so to please you, Robert. I do not
want to be paid for that," replied Christina. Robert
smiled and went away in such a happy temper, that
Jepson said as he took his place at the head of the
kitchen breakfast table : " The master is off in high
spirits this morning. The bride is winning her way,
I suppose. She seems rather an attractive woman."

" You suppose ! And pray what will your sup
posing be worth, Mr. Jepson?" Mrs. McNab
asked this question scornfully from the foot of the
table. "Attractive, indeed! She's charming, she's
captivating, she's enchanting, she's bewitching; and
if she was only Highland Scotch, she would soon be
teaching thae sour old women the meaning o' them
powerful words. She would that! But she's o'er
good, and o'er good-tempered for the like o' them."

" You are talking of the mistress, McNab."

" I am weel acquaint wi' that fact, and I'll just
remind you that my name is Mistress McNab, when
you find sense enough to give me my right. And
if it isna lawfu' to talk o' Mistress Traquair Camp
bell, there's no law forbidding me to talk o' them
Lairds and Crawfords. If they ever come here
again, the smoke will get through their porridge,
and they'll wonder what the de'il is the matter wi'
Mistress McNab's cookery."

" The guests of the house, McNab, ought to have
a kind of consideration."

A Reconstructed Marriage 113

" Consider them yoursel', then."
' The Crawfords and Lairds both are the most
respect "

" Ill-bred, and forwardsome o' mortals. I could
say much worse "

" Better not."

" Bouncing, swaggering, nasty, beggarly crea
tures ! They turn up their lang noses, and the
palms o' their greedy hands at the like o' you and
me, but there isna a lady or a gentleman at this table,
that wouldna scorn the dirty things they did here."

'' They gave none o' us a sixpence when they went
awa," said Thomas, the second man.

" Sixpence ! They couldna imagine a bawbee or
a kind word to anybody but themsel's. They wouldna
gie the smoke aff their porridge but I'll tell you
the differ o' them. The young mistress, God bless
her, sends her maid to me last night, and the girl
a civil spoken creature says : ' Mrs. McNab, my
mistress would like her coffee and rolls in her own
parlor, and there will be due you half-a-crown a week
for your trouble, and thank you.' That's the way
a lady puts things. And mind you, if there's the
like o' a fresh kidney, or a few mushrooms coming
Mrs. McNab's way, they will go to my lovely lady
in her own parlor and Jepson, you can just tell
the auld woman I made that remark."

" What is said at this table goes no further, Mrs.
McNab, and that you know."

" Then the auld woman has the far-hearing, that's
a' " and being by this time at the end of her

114 A Reconstructed Marriage

temper and her English speech, she plunged into
Gaelic. It was her sure and unconquered resort, for
no one could answer unpronounceable and untrans
latable words. All her companions knew was, that
she rose from the table with an air of victory.

The next week was very wet. Day after day it
was rain only interrupted by more rain, and Robert
seemed to take a kind of pride in its abundance.
" Few countries are so well watered as Scotland," he
said complacently:

" The West wind always brings wet weather,
The East wind wet and cold together,
The South wind surely brings us rain,
The North wind blows it back again."

This storm included Sunday, and every one went
to church except Theodora. She had a headache,
and having been told by Christina that the Kirk
would size her up the first Sabbath she appeared,
she resolved to put off the ordeal. The pleasure of
being quite alone for a few hours was a temptation,
for she needed solitude more than service, bewildered
as she was by the strange household ideas and cus
toms which had suddenly encompassed her life.

She had thought that religion, or some point of
nationality, would be the most likely rocks of offence,
but as yet all her trials had come from some trivial
circumstance of daily life. She had been embar
rassed by such small differences, that she hardly knew
in the hasty decisions they compelled, what to de
fend and what to abandon.

A Reconstructed Marriage 115

It was also a wearisome experience to be constantly
exchanging suspicious courtesies with her husband's
family, and by no effort of love or patience could
she get beyond these. Their want of response made
her sad, and checked her affectionate and spontaneous
advances, but she knew that in the trials of domestic
life all plans must come at last to the give and take,
bear and forbear theory. So after some reflection,
she said softly to herself: "These women are the
samples of humanity given me with my husband,
and I must make the best of them. I can choose
my friends, but I must take my relations as I find
them. They are not what I wish, not what I ex
pected, but I fear nothing comes up to our expecta
tions. The real thing always lacks the color of
the thing hoped for."

Such despondent musings, however, were not
natural to her hopeful temper. " There must be a
bright side to the situation," she continued, " and
I must try and find it." So she roused herself from
the recumbent position she had taken. " Stand up
on thy feet, and look for the bright side, Theodora."
As she did so, her eyes fell upon the small book in
her hand, and she read these words:

" Take a good heart, O Jerusalem, for he that
gave thee that name will comfort thee." With a
joyful smile she read it again, and this time aloud:

" Take a good heart, O Theodora, for he that
gave thee that name will comfort thee ! " * The

* Baruch. Chap. 4, v. 30.

Ii6 A Reconstructed Marriage

glorious promise inspired her at once with strength
and joy; she felt her soul singing within her, and her
first impulse was to open the piano and pour out her

" O come let us sing unto the Lord, let us heart
ily rejoice in the strength of our salvation."

At this point McNab rushed into the room crying:
" For goodness sake, my lady, stop ! You'll be hav
ing the police in, and the de'il to pay all round, dis
turbing the Sunday saints and the like o' it. Excuse
me, ma'am, but you don't know what you're up to."

" I am singing a psalm, McNab. Is there any
thing wrong in that? "

" You've put your finger on the wrong, ma'am.
Singing a psalm isna a thing fit to be done in your
ain parlor on the Sunday. It is a' right in
the Kirk, but it is a' wrang in the parlor."

"How is that?"

" You be to ask wiser folk than I am what's the
differ. If you were singing the psalm o' the blessed
Virgin itsel' and folk heard you, there would be no
end o' the matter. You can sing without the piano,
ma'am, it's the piano that's the blackguard on a Sun

" Thank you, McNab, for warning me. I have
not learned the ways of the country yet."

" You'll never learn them, ma'am. They must
be borned in ye, sucked in wi' your mither's milk,
and thrashed into ye wi' your school lessons. Just
gie them their ways, and stick to your ain. You can
do that, McNab does. They are easy satisfied if it

A Reconstructed Marriage 117

suits their convenience. Every soul in this house
is at church but mysel', for I hae made collops the
regular Sunday dinner, and no one but McNab can
cook collops to suit Mrs. Traquair Campbell."

" I am sure she would not keep you from church to
make collops."

" I am a Catholic, and she keeps me at home to
make collops, to prevent me going to my ain church.
God save us ! she thinks she is keeping me from
serving the devil."

" So you are a Catholic? "

" Glory be to God, I am a Catholic ! Did you
ever taste collops, ma'am?"

" I never heard of them."

" Weel, they arena bad, and when McNab makes
them, they are vera good. I shall put a few mush
rooms in them to-day for your sake."

" Thank you ! "

" And you can sing twice as much the morn. I'm
sure it is a thanksgiving to listen to you."

Then the door closed, and Theodora closed the
piano, put away her music, and went upstairs to dress
for dinner. The thanksgiving was still in her heart,
and she sang it with her soul joyfully, as she put
on one of her most cheerful and beautiful costumes.
It seemed natural and proper to do so, and without
reasoning on the subject, she felt it to be in fit sym
pathy with her mood.

Even when the churchgoers came home drabbled
and dripping, and as cross and gloomy as if they
had been to hear a Gospel that was bad news, instead

n8 A Reconstructed Marriage

of good news, she did not feel its incongruity with
her environment, until her mother-in-law said:

" You are very much over-dressed for the day,

" It is God's day, and I dressed in honor of the

" Then you should have gone to church to honor

Before his wife could reply, Robert made a di
version: "What did you think of the sermon,
mother? " he asked.

" It was a very strong sermon."

"Who was the preacher? " asked Isabel.

" Dr. Fraser of Stirling," said Robert.

" Well, brother, I do not believe Dr. Robertson
would have approved the sermon. It is not like
his preaching."

" It was an excellent sermon," reiterated Mrs.
Campbell. " I hope all the uncovenanted present
felt its weighty solemnity." She muttered, twice
over, its awful text: "The wicked shall be turned
into hell, and all the nations that forget God."

" There is a better word for them than that," said
Theodora, her face alight with spiritual promise.
" ' The Lord is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing
that any should perish, but that all should come to
repentance.' That is what Saint Peter says, and
Timothy, ' God our Saviour will have all men to
be saved,' a great all that, and the Testament is full
of such glad hope."

" Those passages do not apply to the lost, Dora.'*

A Reconstructed Marriage 119

" But as your great Scotch preacher, Thomas
Erskine, said, we are lost here as much as there, and
Christ came to seek and to save the lost."

Mrs. Campbell looked with sorrowful anger at
her son, and Robert said : " My dear Dora, you
argue like a woman. Women should listen, and
never argue."

" Women are told to search the Scriptures, Rob
ert. I search and understand them, but I do not
often understand the men who profess to explain

"Your father "

" Oh, my father ! He has come unto Bethlehem.
Those who can believe God has any pleasure in pun
ishing sinners, are still at Sinai."

" God must punish sinners," said Isabel.

" God can reform and forgive them, just as easily;
and it would be far more in accord with His nature,
for ' God is Love.' "

" If we are to have a theological discussion by
young women, I shall retire," said Robert, and with
these words he rose from the table.

" Sit down, Robert. You have had no pudding."

" The collops were very fine to-day, mother, and
I am satisfied."

As he left the room Theodora rose and went with
him, but he did not appear to notice her. When
they were in their parlor he said: "You ought to
have sat still and finished your argument with my

" Have I done something wrong, Robert? "

I2O A Reconstructed Marriage

" I think if you cannot assent to mother's state
ments, it would be more becoming not to contradict

" If it had been a matter of no importance, I
would have kept silence, but I must always testify
in any company, the absolute perfection of Jesus
Christ's sacrifice."

" Nobody challenged it."

" But if it does not save all it is imperfect. And
surely John the Beloved knew his Master's heart,
and he says ' Jesus Christ is the propitiation for our
sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of
the whole world.' How can any one dare to narrow
that zone of mercy? "

" You argue like a woman, Dora."

" I am not arguing. I am only quoting what the
greatest of men have said."

Then Robert lifted the Sunday Magazine and
answered all her further efforts at conversation in
polite monosyllables, and finding the position she had
been relegated to both embarrassing and humiliat
ing, she finally went to her room upstairs, and shut
herself in with God. Her eyes were full of unshed
tears, as she turned the key, for she felt that some
thing in her life had lost its foothold. Was it her
faith? Oh, no! She trusted God implicitly. She
could not think any ill of Him, she had loved Him
from her cradle. Was it her love? Oh, how re
luctant she was, to even ask this question. But there
was a great change in Robert, or was it that she now
saw the real Robert Campbell, while the man who

A Reconstructed Marriage 121

had wooed and won her had been but a man playing
a lover's role?

For even during the few days they had been at
home, it was evident that both he and his family were
resolved on her surrendering her faith, and her in
dividuality. She was to be made over by the Camp
bells in their own image and likeness. Robert had
loved and married Theodora Newton; was she to
change her character with her name? She had made
no such promise, and, without the slightest egotism,
she could see that such a denial of herself would
compel from her mental and spiritual nature a down
ward, backward movement, so deep and wide she
dared not contemplate it.

Her duty to her husband was plain as the Bible,
and she promised herself to fulfil it to the last tittle,
but while doing this, she must find the courage to be
true to herself, as well as to others. And as nothing
can be done in the heart by halves, it would be no
fitful or uncertain struggle. The whole soul, the
whole heart, the whole mind, the whole life, would
be demanded. She was troubled at the prospect be
fore her. Would she find strength and wisdom for
it ? Or would it prove to be another of the lost fights
of Virtue?"

" No, no ! " she cried. " I shall not fight alone.
God and Theodora are a multitude."

She had certainly that doleful afternoon gone back
in piteous memory to her teaching and writing, and
her own peaceful, loving home, and thought that if
trouble was necessary for her higher development it

122 A Reconstructed Marriage

could have been better borne in either environment.
But she acknowledged also that

" Where our Captain bids us go,
} Tis not ours to murmur 'No.'
He that gives us sword and shield,
Chooses too the battlefield."

So if God had chosen this gloomy house, full of
jealousy, envy, hatred, and apparently dying love,
for her battlefield, it was not her place to murmur
" No," nor even her desire, since He that

" chose the battlefield,
Would give her also sword and shield."



IF there had been a little diversity in the Campbell
family it would have been a more bearable house
hold. But they had the same prejudices and the
same likes and dislikes, differing only in the intensity
with which they held them. Mrs. Campbell and
her son Robert were the most positive, Isabel was
but little behind them, and Christina was easily bent
as the others desired. Under present circumstances
she could only be true to her family; under any other
circumstances, it was doubtful if she could be false.
This monotony of feeling pressed like a weight on
Theodora, who felt that she could have borne op
position and unkindness better if there had been more
variety in their exhibition; for then Life might have
had some interesting fluctuations.

But Mrs. Campbell did precisely the same things
every day, and to go to the works at the same mo
ment every morning was the sum-total of Robert's
life. The girls had certain dresses for the morning,
and certain other dresses for the afternoon, and their
employments were quite as uniform. There were
even certain menus for every day's dinner in the
week, and these were repeated with little or no
change year in and year out. For Mrs. Campbell
hated the unexpected; she tried to order her life so


124 A Reconstructed Marriage

that there should be no surprises in it. On the con
trary Theodora delighted in the unforeseen. She
would have wished that even in heaven she might
have happy surprises the sudden meeting with an
old friend, or good news from the dear earth still
loved and remembered.

However, she had that hopefulness and virginity
of spirit that makes the best of what cannot be
changed, and as the weeks went on she learned to
ignore the ill-will she could not conquer and to bear
in silence the wrongs not to be put right by any
explanations. And she soon made many acquaint
ances, and a few sincere friends. Among the latter
were Dr. Robertson and his wife, and Mrs. Oliphant,
the American. The former had called on Theodora
about ten days after her home-coming and had been
heartily attracted by her intelligence and beauty.
The doctor was passionately fond of good music,
and when he noticed the open piano and the name
Mendelssohn on the music above it, he asked in an
eager voice: " You will play for me? "

" Yes," Theodora answered, " very gladly ! My
piano is my great friend and companion. It feels
with me in every mood. What shall I play? "

" The song before you. Mendelssohn can get
very near to a musical soul."

She rose at once, and after a short prelude played
in a manner so masterful as to cause the minister to

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA reconstructed marriage → online text (page 7 of 23)