Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

Love for an hour is love forever online

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For twenty years she had lived in it, her grandfather's
favorite companion ; and when the old man died and
Stephen came to his place, she had not unwillingly ac-
cepted the new master's offer to remain at Leigh Farm
as his wife. And the marriage had been a very happy
one as long as Stephen was only making money. Chil-
dren had died, and losses had come, but the balance of
happiness and gold was in their favor, until Stephen had
become so wealthy that the overplus of his gold was a


care. Then he began to speculate in railroad stock, and,
being successful, the operation became irresistible to him.

His wife trembled for the reverses she was certain
would come ; and her perpetual worrying so far in-
fluenced Stephen as to make him resolve to build another
mill. A mill at least was a tangible result, and if shares
should tumble to nothing, the mill would be fast on its
foundations, and be so much saved money.

Looking about for a location, he fixed his mind upon
Atherton Dingle. That Squire Atherton would refuse
to sell was a contingency he had not considered. All
his life he had found money abase all altitudes and over-
come all difficulties. He had never seen any adversity
in which it could not at least find friends ; nor any pros-
perity in which it was not a consideration. That a man
with competent senses to manage his affairs should re-
fuse a few thousand pounds for the sake of cascades and
bluebells and pure air, seemed to Stephen Leigh either
a piece of unmitigated folly, or of deliberate imperti-

And he was half inclined to think Squire Atherton
had been ridiculing his commercial, money-making re-
spectability : " Putting a bit of fine scenery before a
handsome four-story mill, that would be a credit and an
ornament to any place, ay, to Atherton Court itsen. I
made him a tip-top offer," he said, turning to his son
Lancelot, with an air of inquiry.

" But he did not wish to sell the Dingle, father."

" Niver mind! He'll hev to sell, varry soon, if he
goes on throwing good gold away wi' a toss of his head
and a wave of his white hand, as he did to-day. But
I'm not beat yet! Not I! I've said I would build a


mill on these fells, and I will. Bingley owns the land
next Atherton's. I'll be bound Bingley will take my
offer. Will a mill to the right of the Dingle be any-
better than one in it ? Not a bit. And Atherton will
be a few thousand pounds out of pocket that's all."

" Did you tell him that you would go to Bingley ? "

" Ay, I did. He said : ' If Bingley chose to sell, that
could not give him leave or license to be false to his
land and his old neighbors ! ' "

" I think, father, Squire Atherton may be right, from
his point of view. If England is to remain what she
has been, there must be a race of landed gentlemen.
John Bull is a man of acres and country houses, of
cornfields and stalled oxen."

" There is no call for England to remain what she is,
or hes been. She might be a goodish bit better. The
old John Bull is varry nearly dead, my lad, and his sons
hev learnt a thing or two beyond cornfields and stalled
oxen. They hev gone into the money market, and into
the manufacturing business. Bless you, Lance, there is
no money in farming now."

" Perhaps Squire Atherton does not put money before
everything else."

"Then he ought to do so. Pounds, shillings, and
pence stand for all worth heving."

" You do not think so, father. They could not stand
for Atherton Court, with its grand old rooms and gar-
dens full of old associations."

" In the day of buying and selling, how much, my
lad, will old associations bring ? "

" Father, your words do not agree with your actions.
Leigh Farm House is not a splendid home, though you


have spent a deal of money on it, but I have heard you
say you ' would not give it in exchange for a palace.'
And the big oak chair you will sit in is about as uncom-
fortable as a chair can be, but you prefer it to any other
chair, and you permit nobody to use it but yourself."

"Wait a bit, my lad. When I am gone the way of
my fathers, thou can stretch thy legs out of it. All the
Leighs, when they hev been ' master,' hev sat in it. I
think mysen good enough to fill their seat. I am mebbe
better than most that came before. I hev done a deal
for the old place, and I hev made the varry name of
' Leigh ' stand for a bit of good cloth, all over that part
of the world as knows what a bit of good cotton cloth
ought to be. And I will tell thee something : It is not
the landed gentry of England, nor yet Squire Atherton,
thou art thinking about ; it is Squire Atherton's bonny
daughter. Bless thee, Lance, though I am on the cold
side of fifty, I can see as far as thou can."

"In most directions you can see much further, sir.
As for Miss Atherton, if you noticed her, you must ac-
knowledge she is as lovely as a poet's dream."

" I set varry little by poets and their dreams. I could
always do my awn dreaming, and thy mother isn't a bad
sample of it. But I can tell thee one thing, and that is,
thou need not bother thysen to dream of Miss Atherton.
If thou does, thy dream will niver come true. Niver,
in this world ! Why-a ! She is a lady of the land, and
heiress of Atherton Manor, for the squire hes none but
her. I hev no doubt she holds hersen as high as a peer-
ess in her awn right does."

" She was not proud with me."

"Ladies like her do not carry their pride on their


tongue and in their fine clothes. I'll tell thee what,
Lance it is in their blood. It is part of their life and
their breath. The cradle rocked it in them, and the
spade will find it there to bury."

" For all that, I admire Miss Atherton, and I should
like to win her love and her hand."

" I should not like it, and thou isn't going to try it.
I'll not hev thee making a fool and a failure of thysen.
I hev a right wife picked out for thee, whenever thou
frames to settling down a pretty maid, and a moneyed

" How can you choose a wife for me, father? "

'" Well, I hev chosen a lot of other things for thee, all
thy life long. I don't think a wife is beyond my stock
of common sense."

" Every man likes to choose his own wife ; that is
natural, father. Even the robins that built under the
eaves had their choice free in all the fields of air. And
I am sure they impose no rich-plumed wife upon their
feathered sons."

" I do hope and trust thou gives me credit for more
sense than a robin-redbreast hes. And thy argument is
all against thee, my lad. Robins marry robins. And
I'll be obliged to thee to marry a bird of thy awn feather
a spinner's daughter, with a goodish bit of money.
There are plenty to pick from. But for Lance Leigh
to go courting a county lady, with an old estate and a
pedigree still older, is varry like a robin-redbreast going
to twitter its little song to my lady nightingale."

" Whom are you thinking of as a proper wife for me,
father ? "

" Maria Crossley."



"Thou need not say ' Oh! ' in that kind of King-of-
England way. Thou isn't one by thysen, and none other
like thee. And thou could go further and fare worse."

" I shall not go further at present. As for Miss Cross-
ley, she is a very nice girl. I think mother likes her."

"It is hard to say who or what thy mother likes
lately. I think sometimes she does not like me varry
much. The stones and wood in Leigh House are more
to her than the flesh and blood that it shelters."

" No, no, father! Mother loves the old home dearly,
but you and myself much more dearly."

" I would not set a half -penny on that, Lance. Sell
a rood of Leigh land, or a tree out of Leigh wood, or
put a hundred pounds mortgage on the house, and thou
would mebbe get thy eyes opened to the true state of
that case. Thou sees she hes niver gone into the world,
as thee and I hev done ; she hes lived all her life inside
the old walls, and I think she would find it hard to live
anywhere else. If the dead ever came back, Lance, I
should say thy mother hed come back for all the Leighs
that iver lived before her. She knows their names, and
what they did and what they didn't do ; and if it wasn't
for my awn father and mother, I could almost wish
most of them hed died before they were born."

In such conversation, interrupted by asides arising
from the peculiarities of the road, Stephen Leigh and
his son, Lancelot, passed their journey. It was the
gloaming when they reached home, and in the soft gray
light the old stone dwelling had a very distinctive air;
as if the generations of strong men and women who had
lived there had left something of themselves and their


lives around it. The ivy climbed to the topmost chim-
ney, and the swallows were silently executing marvelous
movements above it. All else was so still and motion-
less, that it might have been a house in a picture.

They entered by a heavy oak door in the old portion,
and were at once in a large parlor. Mrs. Leigh stood
by a table with a Japan caddy in her hand, from which
she was measuring tea into a silver tea-pot. She looked
up as her husband and son entered. Her face was
handsome but melancholy ; and her eyes, though bright
blue, were cold, almost cruel.

"Well, Martha!" said Stephen, in a conciliating

" Nay, I think it is about as ill as can be. Whativer
fool's errand hes ta been on to-day ? "

Stephen answered in a tone of offense :

" I hope I am not as big a fool as ta likes to think I
am, Martha. I hev been to try and buy a bit of land
thou is always for buying land, thou knows."

" Did ta buy it ? "

" Why, no ; the man was not willing to sell. I
couldn't buy it without his permission, now, could I ? "

" It was like thee to go after land that wasn't in the
market ; asking for land as a favor, when ta was going
to pay a good penny for it, I'll be bound."

Then Lance said something to his mother, and she
smiled coldly, but lifted eyes full of affection to him.
Stephen had left the room, and Lance made a rema'rk
about it. Mrs. Leigh shook her head, but Lance
followed his father to the stable, and the two men re-
turned together. Stephen had still an injured air, and
the meal was silent and formal.


After it Lance went to his own apartments. They
were in one of the new wings, and occupied the second
floor. He lit his cigar, flung wide the casements, and
began to think of Francesca. Oh, how sweet, how
loftily modest, how frankly kind she had been! How
he loved her already! He whispered her name, and
it was like the passing-by of violets. He thought of her,
and she stood like a goddess, clear and fair in her own
light. All other women passed out of his memory.
There was no room for them. Francesca! Only Fran-
cesca.' He was awake, yet dreaming, and that was his
pleasure ; dreaming of his love so chastely and so nobly
that he could have told her every thought.

The room was a very handsome one, full of such treas-
ures as young men who have plenty of money gather
while they are at their college or on their travels. Usu-
ally, as he smoked, he was fond of walking about it, of
rearranging its ornaments, or of looking into his books,
or of standing before some favorite picture. But this
night he could think only of that beautiful girl whom he
had found waiting for him in the clematis arbor. Fate
had sent her there ; that fate which brings two hearts
together, though they be as far as the East and the West
from each other. To this idea he gave ready possession,
and it filled him with a sweet and invincible hope.

After a little time his mother came to him. If she was
alone, she often did so. Her knitting was in her hand,
and she sat down by the window to catch the last rays
of the gloaming.

" Mother," said Lance, " I have seen to-day the love-
iiest woman on earth."

" Oh, my lad ! I count little by thy words. L have


heard that tale too often. In three months thou wilt
say to me, some night : ' Mother, she is varry tiresome
and selfish. I wonder I iver thought her pretty.' I
know. There was Alicia, and Dorothy, and Harriet,
and Jane all of them without a marrow on earth or in
heaven. Alicia tired of thee, and thou tired of Dorothy,
and Harriet married a member of Parliament which she
said thou would never be and Jane is to be married
about Christinas, if not before."

" Jane Idle to be married ? "

"To be sure she is to a man from Batley, who
makes shoddy a fat man, with a red necktie and a blue
vest and a mint of money. That's the kind when a girl
is choosing a husband. A man like thee is fit only for

" And I once thought that Jane loved me and that I
loved her. We said so to each other. What mistakes
young men make!"

" Ay, and young women also. Now, Lance, open thy
heart to me. Who is thy new angel ? "

" Indeed, mother, she is an angel. I never before had
the least desire to kneel to a woman. I never believed
men who said they did so, either mentally or literally.
Joe Dykes said he knelt to Rose Schofield. Joe said
there were women who made a man feel that he would
be happy to pay such homage, and Joe spoke the truth."

" Joe Dykes must speak for himsen and for thee. I
niver saw a woman of that kind. Niver! If thy father
had knelt down to me, I would hev sent him off without
any words about it. It is varry hard work to make a
Yorkshireman bend his head, let alone his knees. No-
tice a bit next Sunday, and thou wilt see what lofty air?


they put on, even in church. I can tell thee, that the
clerk and the women hev always that part of the Litany
asking mercy for ' miserable sinners ' all to themsens.
Happen some of the women kneel, as they should do,
but the men ! They stand up, and they sit down, and
they put their heads in their hats some of them but
they do not kneel. And I must say, I niver heard tell
of thee ' kneeling ' before. Now, pray, who dost thou
want to ' kneel ' to ? "

" Squire Atherton's daughter Francesca."
" I have heard Jane Idle speak of her. She was a
school-companion of Jane's. I dare say she will be at
Jane's wedding."

" What did you hear about her, mother ? "
" Nay, nothing but what was proper enough. Jane
said she was varry sweet and stately, mebbe a bit proud.
She is a county lady, and is niver likely to marry thee,
Lance. Where did thou meet her ? "

" Father went to Atherton Court on business, and
while he and the squire were talking, I walked into the
garden. There was a pretty clematis arbor, and she
stood there. Before I spoke a word "

" She went right into thy heart, I'll be bound, Lance ? "

" Yes, mother ; without a word, as sweetly and silently

as roses are born. One minute I did not know she was

in the world, and the next minute she was all the world

to me."

" I'll warrant thou wilt be making poetry about her.

Now, what business had thy father at Atherton Court ? "

" He wanted to buy some land of the squire."

" He'll buy land till he hesn't a penny left to buy

bread with. He keeps me in hot water from day to


day, till I'm not mysen at all. Lance, if ta loves me,
and all thou should love, get thee a wise-like wife and
bring her here. If thou marries to please thy father, he
will settle Leigh Farm upon thee and thy heirs forever ;
and I'll be out of this constant, aching uncertainty.
Marry Maria Crossley, and he'll be that pleased thou
can ask him for anything he hes. She is a varry nice
girl, Lance."

" I could not marry Maria."

" But thou must, Lance. I told Maria to-day thou
was varry fond of her."

" Mother, you should not have said so. I am not
fond of her. I cannot marry any girl unless I love her."

"Love! Love! Love! I am weary of the word. It
is nothing but an excuse for all kinds of selfishness.
When thy father asked me to marry him, I knew it was
the best thing for Leigh Farm, and I put all things
behind that. Maria will gladly marry thee and come
and live in this house with us. And Peter Crossley is
a sharp man ; he will make thy father secure this home
to thee."

" I would do nothing against father, especially under-
hand. Crossley is not fit to even father in any way,
and I will not marry Crossley's daughter and let Cross-
ley dictate on the subject to my father."

" I do believe thou cares nothing at all for the house
that has been the home of the Leighs for centuries. I
am ashamed of thee."

" I do care for the house ; but I care for my father
and my honor and my love far more."

She rose passionately, and at the door turned with a
flaming face, and said :


"Thy father! Thy honor! Thy love! Every
stone in this dear house is worth the whole of them.
Thy father is but one man. There are thousands of
Leighs behind him. Thou will hev to go to them. Thou
will hev to reckon with them. TaK.e care, my lad, take



But this is human life the war, the deeds,
The disappointment, the anxiety,
Imaginations, struggles far and nigh,
All human ; bearing in themselves this good
That they are still the air, the subtle food,
To make us feel existence. Keats.

THE evils of poverty are evident and easily under-
stood ; those of wealth are more complex, but per-
.haps not the less trying. Martha Leigh really suffered
as much in the supposed danger of a mortgaged home
as if the mortgage was an accomplished fact. Yet there
was really no obvious reason for her anxiety ; for Ste-
phen, though a bold and far-seeing speculator, was not
an unwise one. All his investments were likely to bear
the touch of time, and if they were permitted to ripen,
to yield a wealthy return.

But women have neither the faith nor the patience for
such money transactions. They demand certain and
rapid results, and are not content unless some security
on which they have set their hearts is placed beyond
doubt. Martha Leigh felt that if Leigh Farm was abso-
lutely secure she could be happy. But this was the one
point Stephen was indisposed to humor her in. He had
promised not to involve the old home, and he felt her
perpetual anxiety to be a doubt of his honor, and an in-


suit to his own regard for those who were behind, and
those who were to follow him.

And Stephen had masterful ways which might be criti-
cised, but which no one felt able to interfere with. The
enterprises he had begun he pursued, regardless of the
opinion of his wife and family. They would acknowl-
edge his wisdom some day ; and he was satisfied to wait
for his justification until financial returns deserved it.

In his own mind he had built the new mill, and seen
its thousand looms toiling for his benefit ; and he went
steadily to work to realize his ideal. Squire Bingley sold
him the land he wanted, and in a few weeks the great
foundations were laid, and the mill yet to be was exer-
cising a pronounced influence among the inhabitants of
the lonely village. Men and women, looking forward
to its better wages, refused to hire for long terms to
their old masters. Speculative owners of land were
already building cottages for the "hands." Shops of
various kinds were in preparation, and subscriptions were
being solicited for a Wesleyan Chapel.

These changes so barely indicated met Squire Ather-
ton with painful distinctness. They grew day by day
with irritating celerity. Every time he went beyond his
own park gates he was aware of some intrusion of the
new into the old. He blamed Leigh for all his annoy-
ances. He met him frequently going to and fro, and
as yet he always touched his hat to his enemy, with a
kind of proud tolerance of the wrong done him. Leigh
returned the courtesy, though often with an indifference
which deeply offended the lord of the manor.

" I shall be nobody soon, even in my own village,"
he said angrily to Miss Vyner. " A few weeks ago, and


men and women would have sworn to live and die with
me. Now it is Stephen Leigh whichever way I turn:
what he is doing, and what he is going to do ; what he
has given, and what he is going to give. I tell thee,
Loida, I feel very much as if I was being edged out of
my own nest and place. It is too bad of Bingley. I
will never forgive him! Never!"

" Indeed, Rashleigh, you need not fret about your
tenants. If they have deserted you, they have also de-
serted the church into which they were all baptized.
Gammer Oddy told me to-day that Leigh was going to
build a chapel and some kind of an institute for the
' hands ' ; and she was rejoicing in such a way about
them you would have thought there never had been a
church in the parish, though she has been fed from it
for many a year."

" And," continued the squire, " I saw that young man
to-day who came here with his father. He was wan-
dering around the park entrance, and I thought of Fran-
cesca and felt faint at heart. Do you think Francesca
has been meeting him unknown to us, Loida ? "

"Squire! Do I think shamefully of my niece ? No
sir, I do not. Francesca is incapable of anything clan-

" They met in the garden."

"What by that? The moment before they met,
Francesca had not known of the young man's existence.
She told me about their interview. He is a very pleas-
ant young man, Rashleigh. You cannot say different."

" He is his father's son. I can say that."

" We must be just, Rashleigh. The father gave you
the first offer. And when you refused it, he told you


plainly he must go to Bingley. He was very straight-

" I do not think, Loida, that a wrong being ' straight-
forward ' makes it any easier to bear."

" Oh, but it does! One would rather have a stab in
the breast than in the back. But you need not fear
Francesca will ever give you a back-blow. She has all
the honor of her race, and all the native modesty of a
pure, proud woman. You may send her into the world
with a safe heart, Rashleigh."

" I was thinking of it. I know well that keeping a
woman in a lonely place is no protection. God Al-
mighty shut the first woman up in a garden, and even
He could not keep her safe. I had a letter this morning
from my friend Thomas Idle. His daughter Jane is
going to be married, and he wants us to come to Idle-
holme. I cannot go, but thou might take Francesca.
She will be the better for a change."

" Why cannot you go also ? "

" I should leave myself behind. I can do nothing
for nor against Leigh's mill, but I like to be on the spot.
Something may turn up to my advantage or against it.
Either way, I want to be ready and waiting."

" Have you thought about Almund Idle ? "

" I have. Like cures like, and one love may cast out
another. If Francesca has taken a liking to that son of
Stephen Leigh's, young Idle may at least set it wavering.
He is not a bad kind, I fancy, what I have seen of

" I know nothing of the family."

" They are good stock. I used to think no one was
worthy of Francesca, but I feel now that it will be. luck


enough to have her wed some one that I do not hate.
This is a disappointing life, Loida. We are sure of
such great things when we first begin to reckon up our
treasure, and every day we have to count less, and give
up here and take off there, until we are glad to get ten
where we thought once to get a hundred. I used to
think of a lord, at least, for my Francesca. I will be
grateful now if she will only give me a son out of a
county family that I can bear to see come in and out
with any kind of pleasure."

" I wish you would not nurse a prejudice, Rashleigh.
I am sure young Leigh made a great impression on
Francesca, and her heart is not one to lose that impres-
sion readily."

" I am sure if she marries that young man she will
never see my face again."

" Rashleigh! "

" I mean what I say. She may go to him, but she
cannot bring him to me. No, no ! My Frances will do
nothing like that. She knows I hold his father as the
worst enemy I ever had. Do you think she will open
my house-door to the son? Will she dare to write his
name among those of her own ancestors ? It is not
likely, is it, Loida ? "

" Squire, I have seen this thing come to pass men
swear to themselves, and then find it right and just to
forswear their oath. The world changes so fast now
that no one can safely say : ' Next year I shall feel as 1
do this year.' "

" If it comes to feeling, Loida, how many years has

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrLove for an hour is love forever → online text (page 2 of 20)