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Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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Worcester upon a silver salver. He reflected,
that though he had frequently taken tea at
Bradley, the royal Worcester had never been
brought out in his honor. The circumstance,
slight as it was, gave him the key of the posi
tion. It was evident Amos had come to Brad
ley as a favored ruler, and that it would be to
his interest to indorse all that Amos desired.
Since he could not supersede him, the next
best move was to work with him.

In the mean time Edith had taken Amos to a
large, lovely room, profusely ornamented, and
draped with pale pink. In the very center of
it stood a little cot, a drift of snowy linen and
lace, and fast asleep within it the loveliest of



JOE RISES IN ESTEEM. 207

babies. He had had his bath, and been dressed
in fresh lawn, and then gone to rest so per
fectly happy that he diffused around him a
balmy feeling of blissful and beautiful re
pose.

" Look at little Joe, father ! "

" My word ! Hey, Edith, he is a beauty ! "

And the proud mother, and equally proud
grandfather, stood silent a few minutes before
the small monarch, and then tip-toed themselves
gently out of his presence. The innocent babe,
the lovely mother, the shrewd, world-worn old
man what telling contrasts they unconsciously
made ! Nor were they without some influence,
upon each other, for as they came quietly down
stairs Edith slipped her hand into her father s
hand, and thus, to Perkins wonderment, they
entered the room together.

After tea, Perkins rose to depart. " Take a
seat in my gig," said Amos. " We ll tie thy
horse behind it."

" Father, you are surely not going to Bevin
to-night ? "

"Why, yes, my lass. I niver thought of any
other thing but going back to-night."

" But I must go to church to-morrow ; I was



208 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

not there last Sunday, and I really can not
go unless you go with me."

" Oh, but ta knows, I niver go to church. I
hev got out of t way of such doings. Aunt
Martha will go wi thee, I ll warrant."

"I shall go to t Wesleyan Chapel, Amos. It
is thy place to go wi Edith. I don t see how
ta can get off going."

Perkins was listening with an amused face to
this discussion, and his smile decided Amos.
Very well," he answered. "I ll go; I m t
right person to go, I dare say, and there s varry
few that wouldn t like to be in my place, I m
sure."

So Perkins rode home alone, and the next
morning Amos escorted his daughter-in-law to
Bradley Church. They made a little sensation
when they entered, for Amos Braithwaite was
a well-known man, even far beyond Bradley.
And he was, also, a much respected man. His
public and commercial character stood very
high, and his domestic and religious character
was so comfortably negative that no one fell
compelled to regard him through it.

Perhaps the service did not do him much
good, as it only intensified his complacent sat-



JOE RISES IN ESTEEM. 209

isfaction with himself ; but he paid scrupulous
attention to it, and he left a golden token of
his presence in the offertory plate, which was
gratifying to the church-wardens. As he was
coming out of church, while waiting in the
crowded porch for the Bradley carriage, he had
one of those small social triumphs to which he
was keenly sensitive. The Hon. Mr. Latrays,
M. P., for whose election Amos had done a
great deal, came forward and accosted him
with much apparent pleasure. Edith asked
the stranger to dinner, and the invitation was
at once accepted ; and it is certain that things
of far greater importance would not have
given Amos half the pleasure that driving
away with the M. P. by his side did.

It was a Sunday full of satisfaction to him.
Mr. Latrays remained all night at Bradley, and
on Monday morning went back to Bevin with
Amos, in order to examine some improvements
in the machinery of Bevin mill. They had
had long and delightful discussions on all the
subjects so perennially interesting to men of
the world. Amos had done himself justice,
and been complimented on his daughter and
grandson, and almost extravagantly so upon



210 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

the extraordinary self-denial of his energetic
son.

" How few men in England, owning a place
like this," said Mr. Latrays, with a grand sweep
of his white hand " how few would ever have
thought of learning the working-man s needs
and feelings by entering personally into his
labors and limitations. Your son will make
an irresistible Radical candidate, sir, I assure
you."

This was a view of Joe s conduct which had
never before struck his father, but he immedi
ately recognized its importance, though he
contented himself with looking wise and sym
pathetic, and saying nothing. For he remem
bered that Perkins had once spoken of Joe
running on the Radical side of politics, and he
admitted to himself that Perkins was a far-
seeing man, with a faculty of allying himself
with good fortune, and drifting towards suc
cessful sides.

Aunt Martha s departure followed close on
that of Amos. She had determined to sell her
furniture and go back to Bevin Hall. " I lived
with him twenty years, and I can live with him
twenty more," she said to Edith. " Besides, I



JOE RISES IN ESTEEM. 211

hev thee to help me, now, and when thou says
yes he seems to hev forgotten how to say no,
though contradiction used to be natural as
breathing to him."

"And you will not be so lonely, Aunt
Martha, for little Joe and I will come every
week to see you ; and also -you will be among
all your old acquaintances at Market-Bevin."

" I have been a bit lonely, sometimes," said
Martha.

" And in any dispute I shall always agree
with you. When there are two women against
one man, he can t impose very much on either
of them."

" As to that, it s mebbe better to hev one
man ordering around than to hev to fight for
your own with ivery penny tradesman you deal
wi . I hev hed a hard time wi butchers, and
grocers, and milkmen. At Bevin they know
they ll hev to settle wi Amos, and they re par
ticular both as to quality and quantity. Bless
your heart, Edith, there s no one in this world
more to be pitied than a lone woman trying
to mak her awn living. If she s clever, all the
fools hate her ; if she isn t clever, then they
cheat her. I ve seen worse folks than Amos



212 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

Braithwaite since I began to tak lodgers, and
I m not sorry to be going back to Bevin."

" When may I come and see you there? "

" I sud think a week from next Wednesday,
I sail hev some comfartable place for thee."

But Martha found things much worse than
she had expected. The whole house had to be
refurnished, and she was astonished to find
that Amos took quite eagerly to the idea. He
took pleasant counsel with the two women
about it, and let Edith drive him here and
there in search of papers, and damasks, and
new ornaments. In a few weeks the old house
was thoroughly renovated and refurnished,
and Edith could go there and drink tea in as
handsome a parlor and out of as exquisite
china as at Bradley. And it was wonderful
how easily and naturally one improvement
brought on another, until the garden, the
stables, and even the wardrobe of Amos,
showed the feminine influence to which he had
been gradually subjected.

In the same interval, Joe and Edith were
getting into closer sympathy with each other
than they had ever before known. Long, lov
ing letters, in which each told the other, not



JOE RISES IN ESTEEM. 213

only the minutest incidents of their daily lives,
but also their struggles with discouragements,
weariness, their longings, resolves, suc
cesses and failures; led them gradually to
understand how much of nobility there had
been in each heart, unguessed by the other.
Every such letter was a link of the chain bind
ing them more closely together. They grew
familiar with each other, accustomed to saying
affectionate words, not ashamed to confess how
sadly they had undervalued their past, how
eagerly they looked forward to their future.
Joe was as anxious for his letters as the most
eager lover, and though Samuel Yorke had
been quite right in saying that Joe would
be too tired to want any thing but his bed
at night, he nevertheless found writing to his
wife as refreshing as sleep.

After a while, Edith began to read portions
of Joe s letters, describing his life and work,
to Amos as he smoked his pipe by the parlor
fire, or strolled with her in the garden after
dinner. They were certainly very fine letters,
and both the wife and father grew to wonder
fully respect the writer. Edith always praised
them extravagantly ; Amos said very little, but



214 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

as he stroked his chin complacently he con
gratulated himself upon having such a remark
ably clever son.

One day, Joe had been sent to Liverpool to
buy cotton. He had gone frequently with his
godfather, but this time he had been trusted to
use his own judgment. The result had been
very satisfactory ; and Joe s letter described so
vividly the cotton exchange, with its crowd of
eager merchants and cautious buyers, that
Edith could not wait for her usual visit. She
ordered her carriage and went at once to Bevin
Hall.

It was the middle of the afternoon when she
got there, and Amos was at the mill. But
there was Martha, always ready to hear and to
believe any wonderful thing of Joe. And
baby s ailments and baby s intelligence had to
be discussed anew, and some newly furnished
spare bed-rooms to be admired, and thus the
time passed very pleasantly until Amos came
home.

Amos was much impressed by the letter, for
he knew, if Yorke trusted Joe to buy cotton,
he had great reliance on his abilities, and the
witty, pithy descriptions of life and character



JOE RISES IN ESTEEM. 215

interested him very much. When Edith had
left, he remained a long time silent, occasion
ally lifting his eyes to Martha, who was busy
hemming some of the fine damask just bought.
Finally, he took his pipe from his mouth, and
said :

" Martha, we hev been a bit in t dark about
Joe. He seems to be a varry unusual young
man."

" Speak for thysen, Amos. I allays said Joe
was a varry unusual young man. If he sud go
to Parliament and sit at t queen s right hand,
I sud not feel a bit of surprise at it."

" Joe tak s after me a good deal. I used to
hev just such ideas about men and things as he
hes."

" Thee ! "

" To be sure I lied. But I niver hed any
education, and I couldn t write them down on
paper, and I niver hed any one to talk to."

" Tell the truth, Amos. Thou wert far too
busy making money to either write or talk ;
and if such thoughts iver did come into thy
head, thou sent them packing to the tune of
. s. d. I ll warrant thou did."

"I say Joe takes after me Martha."



216 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

" Joe takes after his mother. He s got all
t* talents he has from her."

" I say Joe takes after me."

" When he settles down to money-making,
he will take after thee ; not until then, Amos."



CHAPTER XIV.

CALUMNY.

* f There s noan sa blind but they can see

Sum fawts i other men ;
I ve sometimes met wi folk at thought
They saw sum i theirsen."

" Be thou chaste as ice, as pure as snow,
Thou shall not escape calumny."

/^CCUPATION is the best armor of the
\J soul, and these affairs had kept Edith busy
during the first weeks of her separation from
Joe. At the very time when that fateful jour
ney to Manchester took place, she had been
trying to decide upon some plan for the sum
mer. Joe had suggested Switzerland, and she
had inclined to Scarborough. " We cannot go
with less than three servants," she said, " and
a baby and three servants in Switzerland
will cost a great deal ; besides, I think baby
wants sea air." Joe had made no objections,
and he had fully expected to share the sum.
mer s toilsome search after pleasure.



218 MASTER OF -HIS FATE.

For though the Manchester scheme was in
his mind, he had no idea of bringing it so
suddenly and sharply into form and purpose ;
no idea that his plans were to finally determine
those of his wife. But the first decision Edith
came to, when she \vas left to her own decis
ions, was, that she must remain in her home.
To wander about the continent without Joe
was impossible, and she had no mind to brave
the shrugs and suppositions and suspicions of
a fashionable watering-place. Under her own
roof, with such protection as her husband s
relatives could give her, she felt sure no one
would dare to interfere in her personal affairs
or darken her good name.

Her very position made her fearless of offence
on this ground. Over her manor, her sway was
in a measure absolute. No one had ever pre
sumed to discuss her doings. Even her mar
riage had provoked no adverse criticisms. She
could scarcely imagine people interfering in
her private affairs, much less making her in any
way conscious that they had been guilty of
such presumption.

And, in another way, Amos was quite as
proud and comfortable. It was a well under-



CALUMNY. 219

stood thing in his circle that those who med
dled with Amos Braithwaite would be apt to
get more than they looked for. Amos never
forgave such interferences, and he had ar
rived at a position which generally enabled
him to make prompt and severe reprisals. If
Luke Bradley had been alive in those days, he
would have found a quarrel with Amos Braith
waite a very serious matter. So Amos, during
these summer months, had gone on re-furnish
ing his house, and devoting all his spare hours
to his daughter-in-law, without any idea that
people were expressing themselves in no very
flattering terms concerning them.

True, Perkins had told him what Arncliff
had said, and even intimated that others had
ventured on similar opinions ; but Amos had
understood that all such adverse criticism re
ferred to Joe ; and he was not very sure but
Joe deserved it ; though he always concluded
such a private admission with the muttered
threat " Let me hear tell o them saying
aught against Joe. My word ! but I ll mak
em sorry for it."

However, when the summer was over, when
the rector and his wife returned from Norway,



220 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

and Lady Wilson from the Rhine, and Lady
Charlton from the Scotch Highlands, and other
lesser social lights from the English watering
places, it was not long before Edith was com
pelled to notice how far she had fallen in the
sight of such exclusives. She had never been
a popular woman, most of her social equals had
little scores against her, and they did not think
it unpleasant to have such a good excuse for
settling them. How skilful women are in
such retaliations most people have had oppor
tunities to discover.

And, as it happened, the first Sunday when
Edith met all these adverse critics in church,
was just the very first Sunday Amos had been
prevented from accompanying her. She had
become by this time so accustomed to Joe s
absence that it had ceased to be a matter of
consideration with her how it affected others
than herself. She had not even now the slight
est objection to appear in her pew alone. She
was perfectly satisfied with the position and
prospects of her affairs, and she had quite for
gotten, or quite ignored, the fact that society
considered she owed some explanation, per
haps even some apology to it, for circum-



CALUMNY. 221

stances so unusual. As soon as she entered
church that Sabbath morning, she was aware
of an antagonistic feeling ; for spiteful and con
temptuous women contrive to charge the very
atmosphere with their ill-will ; though how
they do so is one of those spiritual miracles
science is not yet able to explain. Yet, as she
walked with a certain majesty of carriage up
the aisle, she felt the evil influence rained upon
her from eyes full of dislike and contempt, and
through the solemn litany she was aware that
the women so glibly calling themselves miser
able sinners were thinking of her as the self-
complacent Pharisee thought of the publican.
Coming out of church, the rector s wife was
the first of her own set whom she encountered.
She was an admirable woman, of fine family
and exceedingly proper opinions ; too just to
altogether condemn Edith without adequate
hearing ; too polite to positively snub a person
who met her with congratulations and pleasant
hopes. But she dropped her short sentence as
if each word had been iced, and turned away
with an "excuse me," which palpably meant,
" I consider your attentions something very
like an impertinence."



222 MASTER OF HIS FATS.

Many eyes had watched this interview. It
was rigidly copied by some, while others took
it as a license for still more marked disappro
val, so that the aisle and porch of Bradley
Church was a place of intolerable humiliation
to Edith that day.

" Oh, Joe, Joe ! " she cried in the solitude to
which her wounded feelings drove her, " Oh,
Joe, Joe, if you had been here ! "

For long it was all she could say, all she
could think of, if only Joe had been there.
And it is in precisely such trials as these that
women suffer without help. Even very good
women, socially wronged and humiliated, do
not feel as if they have any right to carry such
troubles to the ear of God Almighty. A sort
of false shame holds them back. " How can

God care whether Mrs. A or Lady B

speaks to me or not ? " If Edith had put her
thoughts into words, they would have been on
that wise.

But God does care. No matter how small
the thorn that hurts the feet of His child, He
cares about the wound. He knows that it is
pfeciscly these small thorns that cause the bit
terest, often the most depressing, suffering.



CALUMNY. 223

They fret, and rankle, and fester, and, perhaps
without doing vital harm, how they can worry
and annoy ! If there is a positive wrong, there
is the law for redress ; but the glance, of the
half-shut eye, the withdrawn garment, the
withheld hand, what legal skill can punish
them ? A coat of mail may defy the lance, but
what armor is there against a thorn ? "

So Edith chafed and suffered all that day,,
as she had never suffered in her life before.
Yet, though she wrote a long letter to Joe, she
had the wisdom and patience to say nothing of
her trouble. Her heart ached for his love and
his protection, but why should she ask him to
leave plans and projects for their future which
were full of profit and pleasure ? Was it worth
while trying to win the half-approval of people,
evidently so ready and so pleased to condemn
her ? At least, they might have waited for her
explanation. Then she grew angry, and asked
herself why she should condescend to explain
matters at all to her neighbors. They had noth
ing to do with her. She asked nothing from
them. She would not trouble herself, and
certainly she would not trouble Joe about their
liking or their disliking.



*24 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

Still, she did not sleep at all that night;
and the whispering of evil thoughts about her
made her ears tingle and her heart ache. For
she saw the scornful faces and heard the cruel
xvords that were beyond bodily sight and hear
ing. Something far more intangible than a
bird of the air carries such intelligence, and
sitting alone in her room that Sabbath Edith
knew, as certainly as if she had been actually
present, how her name and her affairs were
thrown from one spiteful mouth to another.

It was a dreary day, also, one of those wet
days which at the end of September are so un
speakably dreary. The servants who had been
going out were disappointed, and they con
trived to infuse some of their own discontent
through all the house. In the evening there
was a quarrel in the kitchen, which the butler
had to call Edith to settle. Little Joe s nurse
was crying with her share of it, and the child
himself, missing some element of his usual sat
isfaction, cried a good deal also.

" What a perfectly wretched day it has
been ! " said Edith, as she at length recognized
the fact that the whole cross, weary house
hold had gone to sleep. " To-morrow morn-



CALUMNY. 225

ing, wet or fine, I shall go and tell father every
thing. There is one comfort about him ; he
always knows what to do, and he is not afraid
to do it."

The next morning was bright and lovely,
with just a suspicion of frost in the air. Edith
had partially recovered her mental strength and
tone ; and her rich and careful toilet was in
sympathy with the mood of self-assertion which
had followed her collapse of the previous day.
For somehow the flowing silk and the long vel
vet mantle seemed but the materialization of
the proud and resentful thoughts which made
her carry herself with a haughty and almost
defiant air.

When she arrived at Bevin Hall it was about
noon. Since Martha s return there, Amos had
gone back to his custom of having his dinner
at that old-fashioned hour. " I had my dinner
at twelve o clock for fifty years, Martha," he
said, " and it s nobbut natural 1 sud like it
best." And as the arrangement permitted
Martha to have the main household duties fin
ished early in the day, Amos found his noon
dinner gave general satisfaction.

A few minutes after Edith s arrival, he came



226 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

in dusty and hungry, and in one of his Grossest
moods.

" Oh," said Edith, rising up impetuously, " I
am so glad to see you, father."

"Happen ta is, but, to tell t truth, I m none
so glad to see thee at this time of t day. My
mind is full o yarns and Israel Sutcliffe. Sut-
cliffe has been up to meanness, and I ll hev to
teach him that honesty is t best policy, even
if a man thinks of it as low down as that."

" I am sorry you are busy, for I am in trou
ble, and I counted on your help."

" Why, then, folks that count on me aren t
apt to find me worth naught. Whativer
trouble is ta in now? Joe and thee again?"

" Father ! Joe never gave me any trouble."

" Oh, he didn t ! Then I m far mistaken. I
might hev known, though, thou would go back
on me. That s what folks get, and deserve to
get, who meddle with man and wife. Who s
troubling thee, then ? Perkins, I ll be bound.
If it s him, he d better take care ; I d like a
fight wi him, oncommon well."

" It is not Perkins, father. It is the rector s
wife, and Lady Wilson, and Lady Charlton,
and Mrs. Lumley, and Mrs. Pennington



CALUMNY. 227

"Will ta be quiet ? What am I to do be.
twcen thee and a lot o women ? 1 know a
deal better than to touch a job o that kind."

" But you must make them behave them
selves, father."

Then Amos laughed with a heartiness that
finally made both Martha and Edith join him.
" Mak t rector s wife, and Sir Thomas Wil
son s wife, and Major Pennington s wife, and
Squire Lumley s wife behave themselves !
Why, my lass, I niver managed to mak my own
wife do as I wanted her to do, and "

" Thou had better say nothin about my sis
ter Ann, Amos."

" And how does ta think I can manage other
men s wives? Thet is a bit o wool above my
spinning, Edith, or mebbe I d like to try it,"

" Listen, father." Then she described to
him, as well as she could, the ordeal through
which she had been made to pass on the pre
vious day; and soon she saw from the gather
ing color in his face, and the quick, passionate
flashes in his eyes, that he was catching fire at
her anger.

He was eating his dinner as he listened, a
process usually thought to induce kindly feel-



228 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

ing; but Amos rose from the table full of wrath.
And when Edith added, with a look of reproach
ful love, " You see, father, it is partly your
fault, because if you had been with me no one
would have dared even an insulting glance "
Amos was deeply roused.

" My lass," he answered, " I m sorry I didn t
let ivery thing go, and tak thee to church, as
I sud hev done. And thou art right ; I ll tak
varry good care neither man nor woman in
sults thee as long as I hev t charge in Joe s
place. Go thy ways home, and do just as thou
hes allays done ; and go wheriver ta likes to go,
and leave t rest to me. My word ! If they
want to talk badly about thee, they ll hev to
pay a high figure for it thet is, their husbands
will, for I ll tak it out o them ivery way. I ll
warrant I can mak both a horse-whip and a
lawyer s bill varry unpleasant things."

Then he went off to his mill again, and the
man who was wanting time on his yarns, and
the hands whose pieces had a flaw in them, had
a bad settlement that afternoon with Amos.

That night he was unusually silent over his
pipe, but Martha let him alone. She knew
that sooner or later he would seek her advice.



CALUMNY. 229

About eight o clock he sent a note to Perkins,
and then he turned to her and said,

" Martha, thou ought to know what mak of


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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrMaster of his fate → online text (page 10 of 13)