Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

A reconstructed marriage online

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ascent and descent, and directed her attention to it.
" Dora has been dressing for dinner," she said.
" Her sickness has not lasted long."

" There was nothing the matter with her."

" You are looking very well, mother, but I must
change my gown. Why not go and question Dora
about the minister's visit? She ought to tell you
the why and the wherefore of it."

" She shall tell me. I will make the inquiry at

Theodora was sitting with her elbows on the small
table, her head in her hands and the open pages of
the book below her heavy eyes, when the door was
imperiously opened and Mrs. Campbell entered.

" You have got over your impromptu attack, I
see, very readily." ,

" I feel better than I did a few hours ago."

" Why did Dr. Robertson call on you this morn

" He called on business not socially."

" Money as usual, I suppose."

" He did not name money."

" Then what did he name? "

" His business."

"And what was his business?"

" I cannot tell you yet."

" So you are the doctor's confidant ! You are

A Reconstructed Marriage 143

the doctor's adviser! You are set up before me,
about the doctor's business. You! You, indeed!
Have you argued the matter out with the devil, as
to how far you can go with a minister? "

" I never argue with the devil. * Get thee be
hind me ' is enough for him."

" I perfectly think scorn of you and your preten
sions. I suppose the doctor is trying to save your

" My soul is saved."

" You are an impertinent huzzy! "

" I do not intend to be impertinent and I do not
deserve such a contemptuous word as huzzy."

" You are a fifty-fold huzzy ! You are not read
ing. Lift your eyes and look at me ! "

" I would rather not."

" I say, look at me. Why do you keep your eyes
dropped? Do you think yourself beautiful in that
attitude? You are full of tricks."

Then Theodora lifted her eyes and looked steadily
at her tormentor. They were pleading and reproach
ful, and full of tears. " I should like to be alone,"
she said slowly, " I am not well."

" I wish to know the minister's business."

" I must tell Robert first."

" I must tell Robert first," cried Mrs. Campbell
with mocking mimicry. " Let me tell you, Robert
would rather you never spoke to him! He wishes
you far away he is sick of you, as I am he is sorry
he ever saw your face."

" I do not believe these things. Will you leave

144 A Reconstructed Marriage

me? You are very cruel I have not deserved such
abuse." Once more she dropped her eyes on her
book, but the letters were blurred and the solid earth
seemed reeling.

" Give me that book and listen to what I say ! "

There was no answer.

" Do you hear me? Give me that book."

Theodora neither spoke nor moved, and in a tragic
frenzy of passion Mrs. Campbell seized the book and
flung it to the other end of the room.

With a shriek, shrill yet weak, Theodora tottered
to where it lay with its pages crumpled against the
floor, and in the effort to lift the volume she fell
like one dead beside it.

Then Ducie screamed for McNab and Jepson, and
the two came hurrying in.

" She flung the Bible across the room ! She flung
the Bible!"

" Stop talking, Ducie, and help me get the dress
of the poor lady slackened. Jepson, run for Dr.

" I will if you say so, McNab."

" Run awa', and don't stand there like a born
idiot, then."

" I will not have a doctor brought here," said
Mrs. Campbell in passionate tones. " I will not
have one! There is no necessity for a doctor. I
say "

" Say nothing at all, ma'am. Do you ken it was
the Bible you flung across the room? What devil
put it into your heart and hand to do the like o'

A Reconstructed Marriage 145

that unforgiveable sin? I'm feared to be in the
room wi' you, mistress. You'll never dare to pray
again, you meeserable woman, you ! "

For a few minutes Mrs. Campbell was really
shocked. She went to the book, straightened out
its leaves, and laid it on the table. " I did not
know it was the Bible, McNab," she said. " No
one respects the Holy Scriptures more than I do. I
regret "

" The deed is done. There's nae good in respect
ing and regretting now. Come here and help us to
do what we can, till the doctor comes."

" I will not. It is her fault. She would make
an angel sin. I am innocent, perfectly innocent.
My God, what a tribulation the creature is ! "

" I wouldna name God, if I was you," said Mc
Nab scornfully. " Maybe He'll forget you, if you
dinna remind Him o' your sinfu' self."

" McNab, I give you notice to leave my house
at once."

" That is more like you, Mistress Campbell, but
I'm not going out o' this house till the master says
so. I am his hired woman, not yours, thank God!
and I am not feared to speak the Holy Name, as
you may well be. Here's the doctor thank God
again for that mercy! You had better leave the
room, or you'll be getting the words you're well
deserving, mistress."

" I shall stay just where I am."

' You're a dour woman; you are that."

Dr. Fleming entered as the last words were

146 A Reconstructed Marriage

spoken. He brought with him an atmosphere of
help and strength, and barely glancing at Mrs. Camp
bell he knelt down beside the sick woman. In a
few moments he rose, and calling Jepson, ordered
him to "go to No. 400 Renfrew Street, and bring
back with him Jean Malcolm."

" I cannot spare Jepson, doctor," said Mrs.
Campbell. " It is nearly time to serve dinner."

" Do as I tell you, man, and be off at once. Don't
waste a moment. Take a cab."

"Doctor "

" Mrs. Campbell, this is a serious case. We have
no time to think of dinners. I fear there is a slight
concussion of the brain."

Then turning to McNab, he said : " There must
be a mattress brought down here, and I shall want
two men to carry the patient upstairs. Have you
men in the house? "

" No, sir, none worth the name o' men. I'll
step over to the hotel and get a couple o' their

" That will do."

" Doctor, if there are any extraordinary arrange
ments to make, I am Mrs. Traquair Campbell."

" I know you, Mrs. Campbell. I have a very
true knowledge of you."

" Then, sir, give your orders to me. What do
you wish? "

" I wish you to leave the room. If your dinner
is ready, you had better eat it. I may want your
man for some time."

A Reconstructed Marriage 147

" Sir, you are rude. Will you remember this is
my house? "

" It is not your house. It is your son's house,
and this lady, I take it, is his wife. So then, it is
her house."

" Yes, she is my son's wife, more's the pity, more's
the shame, more's the sorrow "

" My God, woman ! Have you no heart, no pity,
no sense of duty to a sick woman? " As he spoke
he rose, and with an angry face and long strides
walked to the door and threw it wide open, uttering
only one fierce word: "Go!"

A better and a more powerful spirit than her own
gave this order, and she perforce obeyed it; but when
she reached the dining-room, she threw herself on
the sofa in a frantic passion.

" I have been insulted," she cried. " I have been
insulted shamefully. Oh, Isabel! that woman will
be the death of me ! "

" Perhaps she will die herself, mother. Ducie
says she has hurt her brain in falling a concussion,
she said."

" Not a bad concussion, though "

" No, a slight one, but one never knows, and she
is so excitable "

Thus they comforted each other until the porters
arrived, and went upstairs for the mattress. Their
rough voices and heavy feet, and the natural con
fusion attending their business roused Mrs. Camp
bell and her daughters to a pitch of distraction, only
to be relieved by motion and loud talking. Walk-

148 A Reconstructed Marriage

ing up and down the room, and striking her large
cruel hands together, Mrs. Campbell was heard
above all the confusion attending the removal of
Theodora; and in the midst of this confusion, Rob
ert came home.

"Whatever is the matter, Jepson?" he asked in
an angry voice.

" The doctor will tell you, sir. I fear my young
mistress is dying."

He did not answer, but went rapidly to his rooms.
They were in the utmost disorder, the windows open
and the rooms empty. He rushed upstairs then,
and Dr. Fleming met him at the door of Theodora's

" Doctor, where is my wife? What is wrong? "

" She had a long fainting fit, fell heavily, and
has, I fear, slight concussion of the brain."

"What cause, what reason was there?"

" Her maid will tell you. I will send her."

" But I must see my wife first! "

" You cannot. I shall stay here until I judge
it safe to leave her. I have sent for a competent
nurse, and expect her every moment."

" Surely, doctor there is no fear of death."

" I should not like another lapse of conscious

Robert did not speak. He steadied himself by
grasping the baluster, and the doctor left him, and
sent out Ducie.

" How did this happen, Ducie? " he asked.

Then Ducie told him everything. She described

A Reconstructed Marriage 149

the way her mistress was sitting, and the entrance
of Mrs. Campbell. She remembered the words,
and the tones in which the conversation had taken
place, and the inability of her mistress to answer
the last two questions the snatching of the book
from the table, and the flinging of it to the end
of the room, and after an emphatic pause she added :
" The book was the Bible, sir."

Campbell had not spoken a word during Ducie's
recital, but at her last remark he started as if
shocked, and then said: "You have told me the
truth, Ducie? "

" Nothing but the truth. Ask Jepson."

" I believe you. Go back to your mistress, and
as soon as it is possible tell her I was at the door
but not allowed to enter."

Then he went slowly downstairs, and the talking
and exclamations ceased sharply and suddenly when
he entered the dining-room, for his face, and his in
tentional silence, was like that which Isabel had not
inaptly compared to a black frost.

After a short interval, during which he had frozen
every one dumb, he looked steadily at Mrs. Camp
bell and said:

" Mother, I am amazed at what I hear."

" You may well be amazed, Robert," was the
answer. " I myself am nearly distracted," and then
she told her story, with much skill and all the pic
turesque idioms she fell naturally into when under
great emotion. Her son listened to her as he had
listened to Ducie, without question or comment. He

150 A Reconstructed Marriage

was trying to weigh everything justly, for justice
was in his opinion the cardinal virtue.

" The dispute arose, then, concerning Dr. Robert
son's visit to Theodora? " he asked.

" Yes. I had a right to know why he called, and
she would not tell me."

" Theodora had no right to tell you. Out of
kindness the reason for his visit had been kept from
you. I will tell you now. He wished Theodora
to sing at the New Year's service, and he called to
see what her selection would be."

" The organist ought to select the music, not Dora

" Allow me to finish. She chose ' / know that
my Redeemer liveth.' "

He ceased speaking and took his place at the
dinner table. " Order dinner, Isabel," he added,
in a quiet voice.

Mrs. Campbell was speechless. She was stunned
by anger and amazement. Her lips trembled and
her eyes filled with tears a most extraordinary ex
hibition of feeling in her. Isabel with a piteous
look directed his attention to her mother, and he

" Take your chair, mother. I want my dinner.
I have had a hard day. The men at the works
are quarrelling and going to strike. I did not re
quire extra quarrelling at home."

" I cannot eat, Robert. I will not eat again in
this house. I can laugh at insults from strangers,
but when my son connives with his English wife

A Reconstructed Marriage

to deceive me and make me humble myself before
her, it is time I went away I don't care where to."

" You have your own house at Saltcoats."

" It is rented."

Robert made no remark and the dinner went si
lently on. Just as it was finished the doctor asked
for Robert, and he left the room to see him. " Your
wife has fallen asleep," he said, " and, Campbell, you
must see to it that she is not awakened for anything
less than a fire or an earthquake." A short con
versation followed, and after it Robert went directly
to the library.

Greatly to his astonishment, his mother followed
him there. He laid aside his cigar, and placed a
chair for her. She had now assumed the only tem
per likely to influence him, and he was prepared to
be amenable to her plea before she made it.

" I am sorry, Robert, that you have to bear this
trouble. If it was only me, I would not care. Are
you going to turn me and your sisters out of your
house for that strange woman? "

" That strange woman is my wife. God has told
me to leave father and mother, and cleave unto my

" It is very hard."

" Let her alone, and she will not interfere with

" Isabel and Christina know "

" Excuse me, she has been very kind and helpful
to my sisters. She would love you all if you would
let her."

152 A Reconstructed Marriage

" Her singing in the church "

" Was a great delight, even to you. We were
silent about it, out of kindness. I will not discuss
that subject."

" Where would you advise us to go? "

" I do not advise you to go at all."

" I could not live with your wife if she is going
to faint every time she quarrels with me."

" Mother, I know all about your quarrel with
Theodora. I have heard it from Jepson and Ducie,
and I know what the doctor thinks of it. Allow
me to say your conduct was inexcusable. I would
not blame you before the girls, but that is my

" Her silence was so provoking, you don't know,
Robert "

" I know that no provocation ought to have caused
you to make the Bible the missile of your temper.
It was an impious act. I shudder at it."

" I did not know it was the Bible."

" Mother, a Bible is known on sight. No other
book looks like it. No form, no shape no color,
can hide the Bible. There is a kind of divinity in
this personality of the Book. I have often thought

" I shall sorrow for that act as long as I live,
Robert. She made me do it. Yes, she did! "

" No, she did not."

" Why was she reading the Bible at that hour of
the day? If it had been morning or night, I might
have thought of it."

A Reconstructed Marriage 153

" Theodora reads the Bible at all hours."
" She does nothing like any one else."
" Theodora is my wife. I love her. She suits
me exactly."

" And I and your sisters no longer suit you."
" You are, as I said before, my mother and my
sisters. You are Campbells. That is enough."

" And, blessed be our ancestors, we are a' pure
Campbells! Your father was o' the Argyle clan,
and I was o' the Cawdor clan, but whether Argyle,
Cawdor, Breadalbane, or Laudon, we are a' Camp
bells. We a' wear the wild myrtle and we hae a'
the same battle-cry, 'Wild Cruachan!' and we a'
hae hated and loved the same folk and the same
things, and even if I had nae ither claim on yen,
I would only require to say, 4 Robert Campbell, Mar
garet Campbell is needing ye.' '

" You are my mother. That claim includes all

" Doubly dear for being a Campbell mother."
" Yes. I am glad and proud of that fact."
Then she stretched out her hand, and he clasped
and held it firmly, as he walked with her to the

"Good-night, mother!" he said. "I must go
to Dora now. We will drop this day out of our

Stepping proudly to the lilt of her Campbell
eulogy, she went to her daughters with flashing eyes
and a kindling face, and after a few moments of
thrilling silence said:

154 ^ Reconstructed Marriage

11 1 hae got my way, girls, by the name o' the
Campbells. Do d! but it's the great name ! It
unlocked his heart like a pass-key yet I had to stoop
a wee. I had to stoop in order to conquer."

" Mother, you always manage Robert."

" I ne'er saw the man I couldna manage, that is,
if he was a sober man; but I'll tak' the management
out o' her see if I don't. I'll mak' her eat the
humble pie she baked for me I'll hae the better o'
the English huzzy yet I'll sort her, when I get
the right time. I can do naething o' an extreme
nature just yet. It has been a calamitous day, girls,
morning and night. Now, go awa' to your ain
rooms, I be to think the circumstances weel over."

" Mother, you are a wonderful woman," said

" Also a very discreet woman," added Isabel.

And the old lady walked to the sideboard, filled
a glass with wine, lifted it upwards, and nodding
to her daughters, said in a low but triumphant voice :

"Here's to the Campbells! Whets like us?"

At the same moment Robert Campbell was step
ping proudly upstairs with a heart full of racial
pride. He had forgotten the ironworks. He was
a Campbell of the Argyle clan, he was kin to all
the Breadalbanes, and Cawdors, and Loudons. He
was a Campbell, and all the glory of the large and
powerful family was his glory. At that moment
he heard the dirl of the bagpipes and felt the rough
beauty of the thistle, and knew in his heart of hearts,
that he was a son of Scotland, an inheritor of all

A Reconstructed Marriage 155

her passions and traditions, her loves and her ha
treds, and glad and proud to be so favored.

But even at this critical hour of his wife's life,
he could not be much blamed, for all is race. There
is no other truth, because it includes all others.



IT was four weeks before Theodora could leave
her room, and for long afterwards she was an in
valid. But in her sickness she had peace, and the
solacing company of her friends, Mrs. Robertson
and Mrs. Oliphant; and as the winter passed her
health and strength and beauty returned to her.
This renewed vitality was indeed so certain that the
announcement of the Easter services contained a
promise that Mrs. Campbell would sing some suit
able solo.

At the breakfast table on Easter Sunday, Robert
Campbell spoke of this event to his family.

" Theodora will sing at this morning's service,
mother," he said.

" The minister has already made fuss enough
about the circumstance. There is no necessity for
you to go over the news."

" I think you had better not go to church this

" I assure you I intend to go for your sake.
And am I to be denied the comfort of my Easter
sermon, because of a song which I shall not listen

" Please yourself. This time you have been


A Reconstructed Marriage 157

" I shall do my duty, that always pleases me. And
I need no warnings. I am not a creature made of
nerves and fancies. I am afraid of no woman."

" Christina, as you are so fond of music, Theo
dora will take you with her to the organ-loft if you

" O, brother, how happy I shall be! "

" Christina Campbell, you will sit decently in our
own pew with your sister and myself."

" Poor Christina ! " said Robert, and he laid his
hand kindly on her shoulder as he passed.

" Poor Robert ! Say that, and you say the truth,"
answered Mrs. Campbell.

It was a glorious day, the church and even the
aisles were crowded and the doctor preached the
finest sermon of his long pastorate. His tall, stately
form, his piercing eyes, his thin face austere but
tender were never so immediate and so solemnly
authoritative, and every heart thrilled as in a grand
resonant voice he cried:

" Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become
the firstfruits of them that slept."

His preaching was usually logical, invasive, not
to be forgotten, but this morning all he said was
vitalized by his own lively, living faith. He had
caught the very spirit of Paul, and was carried by
it far beyond, and above all arguments and sequences,
until his glowing climax could find no grander words

" Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become
the firstfruits of them that slept."

158 A Reconstructed Marriage

To these words he emphatically closed the Testa
ment, and there were a few moments of profound,
sensitive silence. Then, like a lark mounting heaven
ward, Theodora burst into the triumphant melody:
"/ know that my Redeemer I'vueth! "
It was an angelic " Amen " to that old sanguine
assurance, which possesses so immovably the heart
of humanity. The ecstasy of hope, the surety of
faith, the glory of man's destiny filled with unspeak
able joy the whole building, and many of the reverent
souls in it had momentary experience of

" That freer step, that fuller breath,

That wide horizon's grander view,
That sense of life that knows no death,
That life that maketh all things new."

For the singer had filled every note of the immortal
music with her own beautiful, happy soul, and the
congregation old and young went to their homes
loving her.

Robert's heart burned within him, for while shar
ing the enthusiasm of the crowd he had also his
personal delight in the knowledge that this dear,
clever woman was his wife, and that she loved him.
He went to the foot of the gallery stairs and waited
there for her. He clasped her hand and looked
into her face with beaming eyes as the elders and
deacons gathered round her with eloquent thanks,
and all the way home he forgot every one but Theo

A few days after Easter Sunday, Robert came

A Reconstructed Marriage 159

home earlier than usual, but he entered his wife's
presence with such a pleasant countenance, that she
rose smiling and went to meet him.

" I have come to tell you something I hope will
please you, Dora," he said. " Mr. Oliphant has
taken a furnished villa at Inverkip, and there is
another to let a few hundred yards distant. Inver
kip is so near Glasgow, I could run down to you
frequently always on Friday or Saturday until
Monday. What do you say, if I take the vacant

"O, Robert, I should be delighted!"

" Then I will hire it for the season, and you can
have your piano and books and what other things
you wish easily shipped there. Consult Mrs. Oli
phant, she will advise you just what to do."

" Dear Robert, you make me more happy than I
can tell."

" And the Oliphants will be delighted you are
going to be near them. There may be some nice
families there, and it is not unlikely Dr. Robertson
will be of the number."

All came to pass like a wish, and early in April
Theodora was comfortably settled at Inverkip, and
the Oliphants and Dr. Robertson soon followed her.
Inverkip was hardly a fashionable summer resort,
but it was pleasant and secluded, and also beautifully
situated facing Inellen, and the slopes of Cowal,
with a fine background of mountains.

After a winter in dark, wet, bitter Glasgow, the
country in April was like Paradise. Robert went

160 A Reconstructed Marriage

down with her one lovely Friday, Ducie and two
other servants, with such furniture and ornaments
as they thought necessary, having preceded them
nearly a week. So the villa was in comparative
order and a perfect little dinner awaited them. Theo
dora experienced a child's enchantment; her simple,
eager surprise, her deep sense of the wonder and
beauty of the brooding spring, and her delightful
expression of it, went to Robert's heart. For her
tender eyes were laughing with boundless good
humor, her lips parted as if forced to speak by the
inner fulness of her happy heart, and he saw in her

" a soul

Joying to find itself alive,
Lord over Nature, lord of the visible earth,
Lord of the senses five."

" There is even a taste of green things in the air,
Robert," she said; "and look at the trees! They
are misty with buds and plumes, and tufts and tas
sels; and the larches and pines are whispering like
a thousand girls. O, it is heavenly! And listen
to the waters running and leaping down the moun
tains! It is a tongue of life in the lonely places,"
and as she passed the open piano, she stood still,
touched a few notes, and sang in a captivating,
simple manner:

" O the springtime! the springtime!

Who does not know it well?
When the little birds begin to build.
And the buds begin to swell,

A Reconstructed Marriage 161

When the sun and the clouds play hide and seek,
And the lambs are softly bleating;

And the color mounts to the maiden's cheek,
At her lover's tender greeting,

In the springtime, in the joyous springtime."

Then Robert stayed her simple song, saying: "Let
us go and walk in the garden while I smoke my
cigar." And she went gladly, and they walked and
talked together until the soft gray afternoon was
verging to purple and red on the horizon.

That night her heart was too full of hope and
sweet content to let her sleep. She had not been
as happy for many months. She had not been as

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA reconstructed marriage → online text (page 9 of 23)