Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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stuff is in women. What does ta think they hev
been saying about our Edith?"

" Why 1 then, Amos, I don t hev to guess
what they hev been saying. Eliza Yates hes
a sister living at Lady Charlton s ; and Eliza
heard a good bit from her."

" Does ta mind telling me ? "

" Why, Amos, there s no good in repeating
ill words."

" I ll be bound thou repeated them to

" No, I didn t. What does ta take me for ?
Does ta think thou hes a monopoly of all t
sense and kindness there is in this part York
shire ? But if ta wants to know how women
talk, I ll tell thee. One said there was no won
der that Edith and thee suited each other so
well, two bad-tempered, self-willed tyrants that
niver let poor Joe Braithwaite hev a thought o
his own nor a half-penny of his own to spend."

" They ought to be ashamed o themselves I
Such lies."

" They said, too, that thou hed driven Joe


from Bevin, and that Edith had driven him
from Bradley."

"As if Joe was such a feather-weight fool as
to be driven from pillar to post by an owd
father and a young wife he would deserve it."

" Driven from both places wi tempers, and
black looks, and ordering ways as no man could

"Well then, aught else?"

" Ay, Jeremiah Wade hed told some one,
who told Major Pennington, that he hed been
in Samuel Yorke s factory, and hed seen Joe in
a flannel shirt and blue apron, working like a
common man and his wife living in t lap o
luxury, as they say and such and such like."

"Well, then?"

" Oh, it s all nonsense. Ta knows Eliza heard
some queer talk about thy friend Mr. Latrays
being there so often ; and Mr. Latrays hed said
in a room full o company at Sir Thomas Wil
son s that he considered Mrs. Joe Braithwaite
a most remarkably beautiful woman."

"Ay, that ud hurt em badly, no doubt. So
she is ! A most remarkably beautiful woman.
Mr. Latrays thinks right. He things as I do.
Joe hes my taste about women. So Mr. Lat-


rays said she was beautiful, right to their faces.
He sail have my vote as long as I live."

" And ta sees, Amos, he kind o slighted other
ladies in praising her so much ; and people
thought it varry improper of him. It was fool
ish, I ll say that mysen."

" It was honest, and true, and friend-like. If
Jack Latrays wants a thousand pounds for his
next election, he can hev it."

" People thought his praise of her very im
proper, Edith being, they said, as good, or as
bad as a deserted wife."

" Deserted wife, indeed ! She s nowt of t
sort ! I ll mak them eat their own words, and
it will be a meal as will mak them a bit sick, I
think. What else did they say?"

" Well, they gave thee thy character too.
Lady Charlton thought there had been a mis
take, and that Edith would hev done better if
she hed married t father instead of t son. Oh,
ta knows how they would talk, what s t good
of saying more? "

" No, thet s enough, I m sure ! Did ta hear
tell of t men saying either this or that ? "

" Squire Lumley said Edith had a temper like
that biting, kicking hunter of his that he calls


Satan, but I know how that comes. He bed too
much wine at t last Hunt Ball, and he spoke to
Edith, and she said a few words to him that he
well deserved from every woman. But he is
taking it out of her to-day."

" Never mind ! I ll tak it out o him to-mor
row. He went off this summer about t time
Joe went, and he doesn t know, happen, that
Edith hes me at her back. But I hev some
paper o his, and I know where to buy plenty
more, and if he doesn t mind I ll hang a red
flag out of his windows varry soon. Men that
owe money should keep a civil tongue in their
heads. I ll teach Lumley that lesson, if he
niver learns another."



" And often I have heard defended,
Little said is soonest mended."

" Just hint a fault and hesitate dislike." Pope.

" A generous friendship no cold medium knows,
Burns with one love, with one resentment glows."

Buy up for me ivery scrap of Squire
J Lumley s paper thou can get thy fingers
on ; and send thy clerk Jonas Sutcliffe to Bevin
Mill to-morrow morning at ten o clock. Let
him bring some o thy legal cap and a pen
and ink-horn with him. I want him to take
down a few bits of conversation for me.
"Thine truly,


This message gave Perkins considerable food
for thought ; but he complied exactly with the
requisition, reflecting, as he did so, that, as the
service was an unusual one, he could charge it
without reference to any customary rate. So f


at ten o clock precisely, Jonas Sutcliffe, with
the professional blue bag, was waiting at Bevin
Mill such orders as Amos had to give him.

Amos was in his gig, and he bid Jonas take
a seat beside him. " We are going to Charlton
House," he said, " and I want thee ta tak
partic lar notice of ivery word that is passed.
I ll mebbe put thee on t witness stand about
them. Hes ta such a thing as a card on thee ? "

Jonas took one from his pocket-book and
gave it to Amos. " Mr. Jonas Sutcliffe," and
on the left-hand corner, " With Joshua Perkins,
Esq., Attorney-at-law."

" That is t varry thing. It will get us an
audience, I hev no doubt."

But it was still early when they arrived at
Charlton House, and the butler was very uncer
tain whether my lady would see any one, as he
asked if the gentlemen would send their cards.

" Give that fellow thy card, Mr. Sutcliffe. I
hevn t such a thing. Thine will do for us both,
I ll warrant."

The card interested Lady Charlton. She
wondered what two of Perkins clerks could
possibly want with her ; besides which, she had
on a new morning gown, and was not averse to


displaying herself in it. The early hours of the
day were always tedious ; any thing that broke
their monotony was welcome. So she gave
orders to admit the strangers to her presence,
and in the interval thought it worth while to
assume, for their benefit, her most elegant and
dignified attitude.

Amos entered first. She knew him at once,
and her heart gave a little flutter of fear.
Something in the man s face annoyed her an-
ticipatively, but she rose, against her intention
to do so, and with a pleasant smile and greet
ing offered him her hand.

Amos let his eyes fall on the long, white,
jewelled fingers, and answered bluntly, " Nay,
my lady, not yet. I m not one of them that
claps hands wi ivery body. I hev come to ask
thee a few questions about my daughter-in-law,
Mrs. Joe Braithwaite."

" Oh, indeed, Mr. Braithwaite, I can tell you
nothing about the lady."

" Put that down, will ta, Mr. Sutcliffe."

" Mr. Braithwaite, I will not permit the
words I say in my own house to be put down.
What right have you to come here on any such
errand. You will leave my presence at once."


" Well now, I thought I was acting varry
considerate. I thought thou would rather
hev thy words put down in thy awn house
than in a public court-room."

" What do you mean, Mr. Braithwaite ? "

" I mean this. There has been some scan
dalous things said o my daughter, and I am
going to irmk them as said em stand up to
ivery word and prove it, or else pay a few thou
sand pounds for t pleasure they took in speak
ing ill of a better woman than themsens."

" What have I to do with this affair ? "

" I sud say a good deal. The report came
from thy house."

" I never said any thing against Mrs. Braith
waite. It was Mrs. Lumley and Mrs. Penning-
ton. I can t prevent people talking, Mr. Braith

"Put that down, Mr. Sutcliffe. And so,
Lady Charlton, thou niver said that Mrs. Joe
Braithwaite hed driven her husband out of his
house? "

" I am not obliged to answer your questions,

" Certainly not. If thou prefers Joshua Per
kins to cross-question thee."


" And I am very sure I should not answer
Mr. Perkins."

"Then ta would find out varry soon what
contempt o court meant. But please thysen.
Either in thy awn house, or in t public court
house, thou wilt hev to deny, or else prove, all
that hes been said about my daughter. If ta
likes to do it in public best, I haven t an ob
jection to mak , I m sure."

" I am sure I never said that Mrs. Braith-
waite had driven her husband from his

" I m glad ta didn t. Put that down, Mr.
Sutcliffe. Now thin, did ta say that she hed
the devil s awn temper ? "

" I am not accustomed to speak of the

of that person. I did not compare Mrs. Braith-
waite with him, in any respect."

" Did ta say that Mr. Latrays went a dea)
too often to see her ? "

" No, sir."

" Did ta iver say that she wouldn t let her
husband have a halfpenny to spend, and that
he were compelled to work as a common
laborer for t bread he ate and t roof that
covered him ? "


" I never said any thing of the kind. I may
have heard it said, but I am not responsible for

" I sail not mak thee responsible for any
body s lies but thy awn. Did ta iver say that
her husband hed deserted her, and that no
decent woman ought to speak to her?"
" I heard Mrs. Lumley say that."
* And thou didn t sanction it in any way ? *
" I did not quarrel with my friend for ex
pressing her opinion of your daughter. Why
should I ? "

" But is Mrs. Lumley s opinion thy opinion ?"
" Mr. Braithwaite, I m not forced to tell you
my opinions, and I shall not do so."

" To be sure, if ta tells them to nobody else.
I hev no objection to thee thinking as bad as
iver ta can of Mrs. Braithwaite, if ta doesn t
put thy thoughts into words. When women
keep their envy and malice in their awn hearts,
there s none but God Almighty and t devil
knows it. But when they let their envy and
malice bubble out o their mouths, and good
folks are likely to be poisoned wi such hell-
broth, they hev a right to object to it, I sud


" You talk in a very vulgar manner, sir. I
am not accustomed to such language."

" Ay, but I m polite with thee, to what
Perkins ud be. But if ta asserts thou knows
nothing of Mrs. Braithwaite, and niver said
wrong of her, then I hev done with thee, to

" Certainly, I do."

" Hes ta made notes of all that hes been
said, Mr. Sutcliffe?"

" I have, sir."

" Then good morning, my lady. And if thou
wilt tak my advice, thou won t say another
word against Mrs. Braithwaite. If ta does,
thou wilt hev to worry it out wi Lawyer

" I have told you that I know nothing against
Mrs. Braithwaite. I am not likely to invent
any thing against her."

" I sud think not now."


" I am just going, Lady Charlton, but I m no-
more inclined to shake hands with you now
than I was when I came in. I m a bit partic laf
in that way. Come, Sutcliffe."

Amos was wise enough to see that he had


frightened Lady Charlton to the very verge of
hysteria, and with a comfortable sense of having
inflicted a just retribution he left her. He
went next to Mrs. Lumley. She met him with
considerable bravado ; she did not draw back
at all from her position. She did think Mrs.
Braithwaite had given great cause for unkind
criticism. More the pity! People occupying
her rank in the county ought to set a good ex-
ample. She was sorry Mrs. Braithwaite had
failed. She believed Mr. Latrays had called
three or four times, perhaps oftener. And in
Mrs. Braithwaite s position, how imprudent !
Even the appearance of evil ought to be avoided.
As for Mr. Joe Braithwaite, there was no use
denying that every one was sorry for him ; for
her part she had quite approved the step he
had taken. She was very sorry also for Mrs.
Braithwaite. No doubt, if she had any feelings
she must suffer under the pressure of public
opinion, and if there was any thing actionable
in what she said, she was willing to take the

" Varry well, ma am," answered Amos ; " I
don t say but what I think better o thee for
standing up to thy words, even if they be lies,


and if ta wants to fight, Amos Braithwaite isn t
the one to refuse a challenge. Only I sail fight
with my own weapons, and I sail put thy hus
band in thy shoes. I couldn t hit thee hard

enough, but ," pulling out his pocket-book,

" I can hit him pretty hard with this bit o
paper, and I ll hev a lot more o t same kind o*
weapons before to-morrow night. Does ta
think I m going to let thee blackguard my
daughter for nothing ? "

" I don t blackguard any one, sir. I am a lady.
I will not permit you to apply such dreadful
words to me."

"Thou art a poor mak o a lady, a very poor
mak indeed. Thy lady way o being sorry for
this, and regretting that, is t varry meanest
kind of blackguarding. All t time thou art
defaming an innocent woman thou art praising
thysen. I m sorry Mrs. Brailhwaite is so
wicked ; I wouldn t be so wicked. I don t ap
prove of her conduct ; my awn is so much
better. Now, then, thou needn t get in a
passion. I hev seen thy hand, and I m going

" I consider your coming here at all a very
great impertinence, sir."


" Does ta ? I sud advise thee to pick thy
words a bit better. If ta doesn t I ll hev a
civiler person put in this house. Thou had
better send Squire Lumley to see me; thou art
only making a sight o trouble for him. and I
sudn t wonder if he gives thee some varry plain
English for thy folly. Come, Mr. Sutcliffe, I
sail not waste any more time and words here."

The visit to Mrs. Pennington was more satis
factory. Mrs. Pennington regretted the evil
talk very much. She had never had a wrong
thought of Mrs. Braithwaite ; she admired her
very much in every way. She had always said
that Mr. Joe Braithwaite s desire to go back to
manufacturing was a most admirable feeling;
she thought Mrs. Braithwaite deserved great
praise for so pleasantly endorsing it. She was
so smooth and complimentary that Amos could
do nothing but make her notice that all her
opinions had been recorded, and that if further
events rendered such a step necessary she
would have to abide by them.

It was quite enough. The timid little woman
was sick with that vague terror which the least
threat of the law can inspire in some breasts.
She wept piteously in her own room, and re-


proached without stint that false friendship of
Lady Charlton and Mrs. Lumley which had
lead her into the dangerous pleasure of defa

" Now then," said Amos, " I am going to see
the rector. If I can get him on my side, he ll
manage these women a deal better than I can,
and save me time and worry; for I ll tell thee
what, Sutcliffe, I d rather give a man a good
thrashing than bully a fidgetting, nervous
woman, howiver much in t fault she may be."

" For my part, Mr. Braithwaite, I think that
husbands ought to be held responsible for the
folly of their wives."

Amos looked at the young man with wither*
ing sarcasm.

"Thou isn t married, is ta, Sutcliffe?"

" No, indeed, sir."

" I thought so."

" Men should keep their wives in order."

"To be sure."

" If I had a wife"

"She d say and she d do as she liked; and
what s more, she d make thee say and do as she
liked. Is ta made o different clay from othef
men ? I very man is Adam, or worse."



" Ay ; if he isn t a fool like Adam, he s varry
apt to be a brute thet threshes women and
children, and thet hes his own way because it is
such a wicked, cruel way that no woman would
hev it. Don t thee be too clever, Sutcliffe.
It s a fault o young men, these days. They
know every thing but t main thing, and that is,
how very little they do know."

The rector was walking about his garden,
with his hands clasped behind his back, and his
face full of placid thought. Amos left Sutcliffe
in the gig and joined him. They spoke of many
things, ere Amos opened the subject upon which
he had come. Indeed, he felt some diffidence
about troubling this serene, scholarly man with
the idle clash of women s tongues, until he

" Have you any special business with me,
Mr. Braithwaite ? You are a man of such great
occupations that I can hardly hope you have
done me the simple honor of a call."

"You come very near the truth, sir. While
you were in Norway this summer, my son
put into execution a plan he has been think
ing of for a long time. He went to Man-


Chester to learn cotton spinning with his god

" No harm in that. A very creditable move
ment, I should say."

" People hev made harm out of it. They

hev said a deal of harm about his wife things

as seem as if they might be true, but hevn t a
word of truth in them,"

" I am very glad to hear you say this, Mr.
Braithwaite. Then your daughter-in-law ap
proves the step her husband has taken ? "

" With all her heart." Then Amos was per
mitted to make that explanation of affairs
which is always satisfactory. He was never
interrupted or opposed, and he was distinctly
made to feel that he had his listener s sympathy.

" I think I understand the whole position,
Mr. Braithwaite."

" I have no doubt you do, sir."

" Mrs. Braithwaite has been placed in a very
trying position. Mrs. Clive and myself will do
all we can to encourage her in it. Of course
we can understand that she would have much
preferred her husband to live upon his estate."

" Perhaps she would. But Joe couldn t do
it. The Braithwaites were never landed gentry.


We came out of the Mill, and my son is only
following his natural instinct in wanting to go
back to it. And we like to make money. It is
a second life to us."

" I see, I see. And I hope you understand a
great deal of money is a great trust, Mr. Braith-

" I m coming to that, sir. While my Joe is
in Manchester, I have promised to be a deal in
Bradley, and it s but right I sud do something
for t parish. I heard you were intending to
found a new school. I d like to give ,500 to it."

" Thank you, Mr. Braithwaite. It is a great
charity. Your gift is munificent."

" Nay, it s nowt but right, and I like to do
right if folks will let me. I hev been more to
Bradley Church this last half year then I hev
been to any other church for twenty years. I
like to go to church now, and it s only fair I
ought to do for t parish according to my
means. My daughter was fearing that she
could never go there again, but I told her that
was nonsense."

" It would be very wrong, sir. Mrs. Braith
waite is lady of Bradley-Manor. We all look
to her for help and countenance, and a good


example. With so much dissent around us,
churchwomen cannot neglect the service and
be innocent. There has evidently been a mis
understanding as to her position, I shall take
care that it is more clearly and kindly appre

" Now then, if ta says that, I sail just go
back to my mill, and look after my looms,
and if ^500 is not enough for t school I ll be
glad and proud to mak it more. I like to give
to t church when there s a parson as makes
giving a privilege and a pleasure. Good-
morning, sir."

" Good-morning, Mr. Braithwaite. My re
spects and Mrs. Clive s respects, also to Mrs.

And after Amos had gone the rector con
tinued his walk, thinking over the interview,
with the flicker of a smile upon his face. But
he was a shrewd, as well as a kindly man, and
he understood Amos probably better than
Amos understood himself. " A little courtesy
and simple justice will bring this man into the
fold of mother church again, and he is a son
that has both the inclination and the power to
be generous to his spiritual mother." Thus he


thought, as he entered his wife s sitting-room,
in order to enlist her sympathy and help.

Mrs. Clive listened with the calm justice that
was part of her nature, and was evidently con
vinced ; for she answered : " Mrs. Braithwaite
was never popular ; she never tried to be ; but
there has undoubtedly been misapprehension
and I dare say no little unkindness all around.
I will make a few calls this week, and I think,
after them, people will at least be civil in
church. Socially, of course, we are not respon
sible for the congregation, and really, William, I
must say that I, for one, never did like Mrs.
Joe Braithwaite, nor even Miss Edith Bradley,
very much. You remember that even before
she was married she was self-contained and
yet self-asserting. Such women are impracti

" It is impossible to like every one, but we
can be courteous."

" Certainly, we can be courteous. That is
one of the duties of our position. Perhaps it
is not always easy or pleasant."
" But being a duty we do it ? "
"Yes. When did I ever shirk a duty? "
On the next Sunday, Edith was inclined to


remain away from church, for she was quite
ignorant of the measures Amos had taken
during the week. But he would not listen to
her fears. He induced her to dress with more
than ordinary magnificence. He wrote and
invited Mr. Latrays to meet him after church,
and return to Bradley and Bevin with him.
He supplemented his cheque of $00 with a 50
note for the poor of the parish ; and he looked
forward with something like triumph to the
morning service.

He was quite satisfied with the result. Mrs.
Clive made a point of detaining Edith in order
to secure her presence at a meeting to be held
at the rectory about the new school. Mrs.
Major Pennington was effusively affectionate.
Mrs. Lumley swallowed her social pill without
a wry face, and Lady Charlton managed her
share of the reconciliation by a discreet

It was the rector himself who put Mrs. Joe
in her carriage, and then stood a few moments
at its side, talking with Amos and Mr. Latrays
humbling himself a little, as a good man will,
in order to bring peace and prosperity within
the walls of his ovn Zion.


And when Amos looked at Edith, whose face
was flushed with gratification, she answered
him with a smile that quite repaid him for the
espousal of her cause. And he let Mr. Latrays
have more than his share of the conversation,
for he was thinking pleasant things of himself
" I did right, I did that ! I bullied them
envious old women a bit. I put a clear case
before t rector who hed t sense to see it
and I handed over a tidy cheque as I sud do,
in return for a few words I hedn t power o
saying mysen. Now, then, it s worth while
spending a bit o money to be a kind o provi
dence in your own corner of t world, and I
think I hev got t value o my 550 ; I do that."

But he never said any thing to Edith about
those four morning calls, until one night long
after Joe s return. There was some social dis
turbance at the time, and Amos listened to the
gossip about it, with a face that puzzled Edith
and Joe, until, with a hearty laugh, he burst
into a description of his social tactics. "And
I ll tell you what, Joe," he added, "if I hedn t
been a tip-top spinner, I d hev been a tip-top
county society leader. I would hev hed no
women s quarrels i my neighborhood, for I


sud hev made them tell t* truth, or else pay
such a figure for lying about each other that
once in a life-time would hev been as much o*
that kind o luxury as they could afford."



" Now let us thank the Eternal Power,
That oft the cloud which wraps the present hour
Serves but to brighten all our future days."

" If solid happiness we prize,
Within our breast this jewel lies ;
The world has nothing to bestow,
From our own selves our joys must flow."

TN the mean time cotton-spinning and calico-
printing were not all Joe was learning with
Samuel Yorke. The man s lofty, simple char-
acter and child-like piety were an influence
none could habitually resist. There was a
spiritual side to Joe s nature which no one had
ever suspected, and Samuel Yorke found it
out. In their quiet, after-dinner hours con
versation always drifted to religious subjects,
and Samuel spoke upon them with the fervor
of perfect love ; for his piety was a convic
tion resting rather upon experience than upon


"Truth is truth," he would say to Joe, "just
as bread is bread, whatever shape t loaf may
be made. I got my religion with t Methodists,
and I like their loaf and stand by it. Just thee
try it, Joe."

Joe was not quite ignorant of Methodism.
Martha Thrale had done her best to bring him

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrMaster of his fate → online text (page 11 of 13)