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Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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up in her own persuasion, but the very candor
and familiarity of its experience had made Joe
shrink from it. Youth, contrary to general
impression, is apt to be secretive about its
deepest emotions ; if it is any thing else, the
probabilities are that the whole man or woman
is shallow. They who prattle about their love
affairs to every listener have no depths of ten
derness; and much more truly may it be said
that they who are constantly talking of their
spiritual experiences know nothing of those
sweet, secret tokens which are solemn, sacred
understandings between God and his children.

But this reticence does not exclude those
guarded and intimate communions, those affec
tionate counsels, which friend and brother have
with one another. No confidences that Joe
had ever exchanged with Tom Halifax and
others of his gay companions were so enthral.



254 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

ling as those after-dinner chats with Samuel
Yorke when the day was over and the shadows
of the evening stretched out. Then the tide
of daily life had quite ebbed, and in the still
ness and dimness the spiritual perceptions were
more sensitive ; conscience spoke and could be
heard ; the soul hearkened after voices from its
long-lost home ; the men drew nearer to each
other and nearer to God.

It was in such hours Joe began to speak of
the years which he had wasted, and of the mis
takes he had made, very shyly and almost
defensively at first, but finally with the full
appreciation of all that such loss of life in
cluded ; for whoever has felt any thing deeply
must be haunted by the phantoms of wasted
hours that can never return.

On Sunday night a minister famed for his
eloquence was to preach, and Samuel Yorke
and Joe were both somewhat excited at the
prospect. The sermon was all they expected,
a magnificent exposition of the attributes of
the Prince of the House of David. Joe was
particularly affected by the mighty waves of
psalmody, the solemn yet hearty enthusiasm
with which the worshiping thousands sang,



JOE HAS A SURPRISE. 255

" Bring forth the royal diadem,
And crown Him Lord of all,"

and still more by the almost awful grandeur of
that most majestic of hymns :

" Lo ! He comes with clouds descending,

Once for favored sinners slain ;
Thousand, thousand saints attending,
Swell the triumph of His train :

Hallelujah !
God appears on earth to reign. "

And it seemed to Joe, when the standing mul
titude blended their voices with the rolling
organ in those lines of stern pathos,

" Every eye shall now behold Him,

Robed in dreadful majesty ;
Those who set at naught and sold Him,
Pierced and nailed Him to the tree,

Deeply wailing,
Shall the true Messiah see."

that his very soul grew larger, touched infinite
heights and depths, and felt, at least for a few
moments, the breath of its own divinity.

He did not speak during their ride home;
he did not feel able ; but it was not necessary
for these two men to speak; they understood
silence as well. Yet, after they had sat half
an hour in the red shadows of the firelight, and



256 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

had fully gathered their thoughts and feelings
together, Joe said :

" It was a grand sermon ! It was a grand
service! It was good to be there."

Samuel nodded, looking into Joe s face with
shining eyes.

"No worldly pleasures can so stir the soul. I
have had music, dancing, travel, good company,
fair women, but none of these things ever made
me feel immortal."

" It tak s angels to move the great depths of
our souls, Joe. Wine, music, dancing, even
good women, only move us a bit below the
surface. It tak s the everlasting word of God
to bring to us any living sense o immortality."

" I have never known Jesus Christ until this
night. The Conqueror of all His enemies, the
Avenger of His saints, the Lord of heaven and
earth. It was a wonderful picture ! "

" It was ; and yet Joe, will ta believe it? In
t* varry rapture of t coronation hymn, I was
busy thinking o a little saying o Saint Peter s,
which to my mind describes Jesus of Naza
reth in a way poor, sinful, suffering men and
women want him most and love him best. A
man approved of God, who went about doing



JOE HAS A SURPRISE. 257

good, healing all that were oppressed Thou
sees, Joe, a great conqueror would be led wet-
shod ; blood and fire, and weeping and wailing
wherever he went. Oh, my lad, that isn t how
I like to think of Him. I know that when His
weary feet went to Judea he left blessing and
love behind him. I can fancy a traveler pass
ing through a village at that time, and saying,
"I found no blind men, and no cripples, and
no sick people; for Jesus of Nazareth had just
been there."

Joe looked at his friend sympathetically, but
he had nothing to answer. When the spiritual
nature is above the mortal one it is not easy
to say many words. Can the language of flesh
and blood interpret the emotions of the spirit?
No ; when the spirit is master, we must be
still, for we have not yet learnt the spiritual
tongue. But Joe communed with his own
heart, and found the silence sweetly satisfying.
For God knows the worshipers unknown to
the world, or even to the prophets.

It will be easily seen, then, that the young
man was very favorably circumstanced for
spiritual growth ; and yet there were times
when he stood still, when he actually went



<5 8 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

backward, for conversion is a slow and tardy
miracle, the fruit of sorrow and care and many
bitter unquietudes.

Thus at Bradley and Manchester the time
went on, every day bringing its own lesson
and its own comfort. Christmas was ap
proaching, and Joe began to have strong long
ings to see again his wife and child. Surely,
Yorke would not consider a holiday visit to
them a violation of his agreement. He spoke
of Christmas often, in the hope that the old
man would express some opinion, but Yorke
had really no new one to express. He had
made a bargain with Joe. Its terms were clear
in his own mind ; he expected them to be just
as clear in Joe s. The thing had been settled
beyond future discussion ; and Joe felt this.
He was sure if Yorke meant him to go home
he would speak of it, and if he did not mean
it no argument he could use would affect him.

True, he was his own master, and his servi
tude was of his own will ; he could terminate it
to-morrow. But he was not prepared to give
up his project, to waste his six months labor,
to cast himself adrift on an aimless life. And
if for a week s gratification he did this he knew



JOE HAS A SURPRISE. 259

what self-reproach would follow. And what
would Edith say, and his father, and Aunt
Martha ? In such a case even the whole com
munity must be considered, and Joe felt that
the universal verdict would be that of Jacob
on Reuben/ Unstable as water, thou shalt not
excel." There was therefore only one way in
which he could visit Bradley, and that was
with Yorke s permission, and Yorke never said
a word which implied even a consideration of
the subject.

One night he asked with as little concern as
he could manage to show, " For how long
will you close, at the holidays, godfather?"

"I sail shut up t warehouse and t factory
on Thursday at t noon hour, and I sail open
again Monday morning. Them at likes to
stop away at t New Year can do so ; but I ll
think better o them that begins a fresh year
wi honest work instead o foolishness and
senseless feasting."

Now Samuel had a daughter married, and
living in London, and Joe made his last insinu
ation when he asked, "Are you going up to
London to see Mrs. Powers and your grand
children ?"



26o MASTER OF HIS FATE.

"Nay, not I. I am none fond o London,
and I sud be a good part of two days in a rail-
way carriage. I go and see Mary and t chil
dren every July; they are in t country then,
and that s summat like a holiday."

But not even this leading question procured
any allusion to Joe s relations, and he was much
annoyed by Yorke s reticence on the subject.
But he was wise enough to accept the fact as
a positive proof that Yorke did not intend
Joe s family to be any factor of the agreement
between them.

And Yorke understood Joe s allusions very
well. " I know what he s after," he thought,
with some real regret, " but if he isn t up to
this bit of self-denial, he may as well go home
entirely. I ll hev nothing less than I bargained
for. It would be a foolish thing to let him go
home for a week, and be lord of t manor, and
have every body running after him, and wait
ing on him, hand and foot, and humoring all
his whims, as if he were doing something more
than mortal man iver did before. I ll hev
no woman melling with my work aunt or wife
and I sail hold him to his bargain, ivery let-



JOE HAS A SURPRISE. 261

ter of it, for I m varry sure it is t right thing
and t kind thing to do."

However, there is in every human intention
some unforeseen element which has not been
remembered or reckoned for ; and Yorke never
thought of Edith coming to Manchester to see
Joe. Nobody thought of it. The idea entered
into her own head one morning, a few days
before Christmas, as she was going over the de
tails of the feast with her housekeeper. She
had much to do for her tenants, and when it
was all arranged she remembered Joe with a
wave of love and pity that brought the tears
to her eyes.

" He isn t coming home," she whispered.
" He says Yorke will not even speak of it.
Very well. Yorke cannot prevent mygoingto
see Joe, and I ll go to-morrow."

So next day she stepped from a carriage in
Spinning-Jenny street, Manchester, a beautiful,
queen-like woman in purple velvet and ermine
furs ; and Samuel Yorke, catching a passing
glimpse of this feminine apparel, thought it
must be his daughter, and hastened to the door
to meet her.

" I am Mrs. Joe Braithwaite," she said, with



262 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

a smile, and Samuel was quite conquered by its
winsome sweetness.

" Thou art welcome," he answered. " Will
ta come in?"

But she wanted to see Joe at once, just as
he was. And Yorke was not able to resist her
pretty impetuosity.

"Well, then, ta shall see him," and he got
into the carriage and drove with her to the
mill, which was more than two miles away from
the warehouse.

Joe was in the dyeing shed, standing among
piles and stacks of logs of the oddest looking
woods : some were yellow and splintering,
some red and scraggy, some purple and solid.
Around him were bundles of bark, barrels of
salts, and carboys of acids and oils. He was
talking earnestly to the master dyer, and
Edith saw him before he had any idea of her
presence. Fashion had never dressed him to
such perfection as labor. Handsome he had
always been, but never so handsome in his
wife s eyes as at that moment, though he wore
a flannel shirt and a flannel apron, though
his naked arms were stained with indigo, and



JOE HAS A SURPRISE. 263

his brown, curly hair was partially covered
with a little scarbt cap.

11 Joe ! Joe ! " she cried, softly, as she began
to pick her way toward him.

And oh ! how proud and glad Joe was ! It
was a moment cheaply bought with six months
of toil and self-banishment. In some degree
also Samuel Yorke was quite conquered. He
saw their joy, and he could not help sympathis
ing with it.

" I ll hev to giv thee a holiday, Joe," he said.
" So don thy street clothes and be off wi thee.
I know thou won t be fit to dye cloth to-day."

" Mr. Yorke, couldn t Joe go back to Bradley
with me for a week ? "

" No, my lass, he couldn t."

"Just for three days, then? I think you
might let him have three days. Every one
goes home at Christmas, you know."

" No, I didn t know aught of t sort. Mrs.
Braithwaite, this won t do at all. I hev let
Joe off to-day. If ta takes him to Bradley now,
thou can keep him there. I see plainly that
ivery man hes to hev his Eve. If ta takes my
advice, thou won t tempt a good man to leave
the good work he hes put his hand to."



264 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

"You mustn t call me Eve, Mr. Yorke ; I do
not intend to tempt Joe to leave his work."

" That s right. I don t want any woman in
terfering with my work, and Joe is my work,
for t next eighteen months."

" I would not interfere for the world, sir. I
will do exactly as you say."

"Now thou talks sense. I begin to believe
all t* fine things Joe says of thee, and Joe can
say a lot when he begins, he can that."



CHAPTER XVII.

AMOS MAKES EDITH A PROPOSAL.

" He hath hands enough for himself and others."
" Power to its last particle is duty."
" We make our fortunes, and we call them fate."
" Every thing that happens is but a link in a chain."

\ FTER Edith s visit to Manchester, life at
_/~\_ Bradley went on in a very even and satis
factory way. Her affairs were not again dis
cussed, even by the most intimate of friends,
and she was every where treated with that
marked politeness which is the expression of
respect untinged by a familiarity too often apt
to verge upon contempt. For Amos had made
himself very popular in Bradley ; he had given
nobly to its charities, and he had a way, not
only of interfering in local troubles, but also of
making them disappear. It was money in one
direction, it was work in another ; but it was
always help in just the place and way that
help was needed.



266 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

The rector found his hands wonderfully
strengthened by this straightforward, pushing,
generous man. And as he stood at Edith s
side, very much in the attitude of a watch-dog
noting, with pleased or lowering face, any at
tention or want of attention to his daughter,
no one was inclined to incur his ill-will.

For the ill-will of Amos was by no means a
bark without a bite. Mrs. Lumley would have
said, had she dared, that she and the Squire
had been almost worried to death by him.
And, indeed, it was well known that the proud
woman had been compelled to entreat Edith s
espousal of her cause, in order to prevent the
auctioneer s flag which Amos had promised
them. But having brought her to this point,
Amos was glad to put the utmost extent of
mercy in the hands of Edith.

" Tell her," he said, " she can send t Squire
to me. If thou says be easy wi them, I ll
warrant I won t be hard."

" Mrs. Lumley wants to see you, herself,
father."

" Nay, nay, I ll do no business wi women.
I m too soft. If she didn t mak a fool of
me, she would call me a brute. But ta can



AMOS MAKES EDITH A PROPOSAL. 267

tell her thou hes saved her home ; and for
t rest, let Squire Lumley speak for himsen.
If it hurts his pride a bit, it will do him
good. He hes never done aught but spend
money all his life, and nobody, as I can hear
of, hes hed t gumption to give t young man
a bit of good advice. I sail not let my op
portunity pass; he ll be sure to get some truth
from me, and happen it will do him good."

The tie between Edith and her father-in-
law had become a very strong and tender one.
He admired her thoroughly ; her business tact
elicited his sincere admiration; her little econo
mies were his delight ; her beauty, her stately
carriage, her rich clothing, her authoritative
ways were subjects on which he never wearied
of conversation.

Martha Thrale listened to him with many
silences and reserves. She liked Edith better
than she had ever hoped or intended to like
her, but women see women in a way men have
not the faculty of seeing them. The pretty
wiles and flatteries that were so charming to
Amos, and in which he so thoroughly believed,
affected Martha with a trifle of wonder and
contempt. She saw through them, and won-



268 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

dered why Edith should take a bye-way to her
object when there was a high-way.

" She is a varry fair specimen of a woman,"
she would say, a little impatiently, " but she
isn t an angel. She hes her faults, like all V
rest of women."

" Then I hevn t seen them, Martha."

" No, because she mak s so much o thee.
One would think thet she niver hed a father cf
her awn."

" She hed a varry mean one, poor lass ; I sud
really hope thet she does find me a different
mak o a man to old Bradley."

" Dear me, Amos ! Thou beats every thing.
Setting thysen up above a daughter s awn fa
ther! It isn t right, ta knows."

" Isn t it? I wouldn t set mysen varry high
by topping Luke Bradley. I m not an angel
either, Martha, but I do hope as I am a better
sort of a man than Luke Bradley was."

" Well, Amos, Luke Bradley is dead and
judged now, and thou hesn t any right to say
aught."

" Thet s so, and I hev got a grand upper
hand o him. I hope he knows it, Martha. I
Sud think he does. There wouldn t be much



AMOS MAKES EDITH A PROPOSAL. 269

use in having t upper hand o Luke, if he didn t
know it."

" I hope he knows how good thou hes been
to his daughter."

" Ay, I hev been good to Edith. But Edith
is a woman as is worth a man going out of his
way for."

" She s varry well. I hev known some better,
I think."

When conversation got to this point, Amos
had always the good sense to turn it upon the
subject about which their opinions were unani
mous little Joe.

" Did ta iver see such a fine lad ? "

" Niver, Amos, unless it were his father."
Then the child s beauty, his spirit, his loving
disposition, his bright intelligence, were afresh
discussed, and Amos smoked, and talked, and
listened, until he was in a state of supreme
satisfaction with himself for owning such an
admirable son and such an extraordinary
grandson.

During the following Easter holidays, Amos
was most of his time at Bradley. He had Per
kins there, and he went over the accounts of
the estate with him, and was much gratified at



270 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

the handsome balance. He never took into
consideration the retired way in which Edith
had been living during the absence of her hus
band, the omission of the summer travel, and
the winter s entertainments; he put the whole
sum against his own management. And this
not out of any intentional desire to appropri
ate credit not justly his own, but simply because
his tremendous self-esteem led him to make all
things feed its never-ceasing hunger.

The Saturday previous to Easter Sunday was
a perfectly charming spring day; and in the
afternoon Amos asked Edith to take a walk
with him.

" Why not drive, father ? Then we can take
little Joe with us."

" Nay, I don t want little Joe this afternoon,
and I am going a way that would be rather
hard on thy fine carriage and horses."

" Won t it be hard on me, then?"

" Not a bit. Put on a pair of thick shoes,
and I ll give thee my arm."

Edith did not make any further opposition.
She had come to understand that her father-
in-law s unusual movements always had a
purpose in them; and she was a little curi-



AMOS MAKES EDITH A PROPOSAL. 271

ous as to what new thing was now in his
mind.

They went leisurely through the park, ad
miring its excellent condition, and happily sen
sitive to the freshness and sweetness of the
young leaves and the early flowers, though
neither spoke very much of such unpractical
things. After passing the gates, Amos turned
to the left, and followed a rapid, brawling
stream some distance up the hill. There was
but a bridle path, and the road was rough, but
it was one of great beauty.

Edith could not resist the delight of gather
ing the lovely saffron primroses, and the pale
blue-bells, and the tenderly green young ferns.
The trees whispered above them, and the water
came down in a clear, sparkling volume. There
was mystery, and freshness, and beauty all
around them ; and as the path narrowed, and
they were compelled to walk singly, they ceased
talking, feeling the companionship of nature to
be sufficient.

In a few minutes they came to the head of a
glen, and here the water took a leap of fifty
feet, making, in its irresistible momentum, what
is called in local speech "a force." Amos stood



272 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

looking at it with a face full of pleased specula-
tion, while Edith, who had never been there
since her childhood, expressed her hearty de
light.

" It is the loveliest spot ! " she cried ; " we
must bring little Joe here, and have a picnic.
Oh, how exquisitely sweet and fresh and charm
ing it all is ! It seems, up here, as if the world
had just been made, father."

" Ay, it is a bonny place ; but the beauty of it
isn t what I m thinking of, Edith. There is a
grand water-power here. I ve been up before
looked at it summer and winter. I say, there
is a grand water-power here."

" Well, what of that, father?"

" It is a fair, even-down sin and shame to
hev so much water doing nothing."

Edith smiled. " I believe, father, that you
think forces and becks were only made to run
mills."

" Whativer could they do better ? So much
water so much water going to waste ! It
mak s me varry unhappy, Edith."

" This place was for beauty, father a little
covert for the lady-ferns and blue-bells. I didn t
know before that I owned such a pretty spot."



AMOS MAKES EDITH A PROPOSAL. 273

" There, now ! What good does its beauty
do ? Who iver sees t lady-ferns and blue-bells?
Who do they feed and clothe? Looking pretty
is all varry well, but neither nature nor women
folk hev any right to stop there, if they can do
aught else."

" There must be some places left for recrea
tion, some places left to delight the eyes, and
rest the mind and body."

" I hevn t any objections, I m sure. There
are lots o bonny places, fit for nothing else,
with no water-power worth speaking of. This
place hes more privileges."

* I think it has."

"Edith?"

" Yes, father ? "

" I ll build Joe a cotton mill right here, if
thou art willing. I ll buy t land of thee at a
fair price."

" I do not want a cotton mill so near the
park, father. It will spoil the pretty rural vil
lage, too."

"What is ta talking about? I sail put up
t handsomest mill that can be made o stone
and mortar. I ll mak t chimney so that folks
will come miles and miles to hev a look at it,*



274 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

and I sud like to see t park or t village a mill
of that kind would spoil."

" Bradley is such a pretty, rural, idyllic little
village."

" I don t know what ta means with thy fine
words, but I ll tell thee what I think o Brad
ley. It wants somebody \vi sense and gump
tion to do summat for it. Such a lot of
tumble-down, thatched cottages and sleepy
dunderheads of hedgers and ditchers I niver
saw before."

" They are happy and contented."

" Because they know no better."

" Bevin is not very far off. If they want mill
work they can go to Bevin."

" They are like childer ; they stay at home,
even though home is but a middling place.
Edith, thou hes no right to hev so much water
going to waste. It ought to find good homes
and plenty o bread for a thousand mouths,
and mak money without end for thee and
Joe."

" Do you really think that ? "

" To be sure, I do. See, now ! I ll build a
mill. I ll hev it ready for t looms by t 1 time
Joe is ready for it. I hev vowed that he sail



AMOS MAKES EDITH A PROPOSAL. 275

niver hev part nor lot in Bevin Mill, but I niver
said thet I wouldn t build him a mill at Brad
ley."

" My father always dreaded having a mill
near the park. It was for that reason he
bought the land around Kattel Force."

" Thy father made his money in mills."

" Yes but you know the Bradleys were
country gentlemen. They had become poor,
but they had always been at Bradley. My
father, like many other old Yorkshire squires,
began manufacturing in order to rebuild the
fortunes of the family."

"Well, whativer he did thou can do. I sud
think that he bought this varry bit o land, if
he hed an ounce o sense, with t sole idea that
some o his descendants would be wise enough
to build a mill here. Naturally, he d want them
to hev t benefit o such a grand factory site."

" Oh, no," she answered, a little fretfully ;
" just imagine that cascade of silver water black
and foul with the refuse of dyeing vats. And
the stream all the way down, with its fringe of
primroses and blue-bells, how soon it would be
come dirty ! The flowers would perish, and the
clean air be full of smoke."



2 7 6 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

" Silver water, as ta calls it, will mak a sight
o gold for thee. And it would be better to
see a thousand men, women, and children on
its banks than primroses and blue-bells ; for I
do hope ta doesn t even human beings wi flow
ers and ferns and such like."

"It is such a new idea to me, father."

" I m a bit astonished at that. Thou art
such a clever woman, I was sure thou would
hev thought of Kattel Force and Joe together,
before this."


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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrMaster of his fate → online text (page 12 of 13)