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Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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Still, as he now meant to make his son a pro-
posal which was to decide all the future be
tween them, he was unusually nervous about
it, especially as he perceived that he would
have no support from Martha Thrale. He
delayed it from day to day with a vacillation
foreign to his character and humiliating to his
self-esteem.

One fine spring evening, as they sat at dinner
before the open windows, the moment of de
cision arrived. Neither had expected nor in
any special way provided for it at that hour.
It arose out of a circumstance and from a
remark which seemed irrelevant. Martha
Thrale was called from the table by some
unusual domestic event, and Joe s first remark
related to a pleasure tour which a friend of his
had in contemplation.

" For sure," answered Amos, " young Warps
is varry rich, and he can afford to fling his brass
and his time away among foreigners, if he has
no more sense than to do so. If a man reckons
to spend his life in pleasuring and laking, he
had best do it while he s young, for he won t



24 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

get much out o such ways when he s old. So
I don t say Warps is wrong if that is what he
is after. But there s better jobs for a man to
do: there s good work, and makin something
of t gifts one hes for getting hold o a bit of
money "

" But you would make life a drama in tvo
acts, father, working and sleeping."

" I don t know what ta means by makin life
a drama. I d niver do it. I sud think it would
lead one into all sorts o bother. Young Warps,
and owd Warps, too, look over us a bit, 1 fancy;
but we can put as much brass down as any of
them, I dare say; ay, Joe, as any of them."

"Young Warps is a very good sort, I think."

" T owd man couldn t see me yesterday ; no,
not even with t help o his eye-glasses. He
looked as if he owned both sides of t street."

" They have had more than a little trouble
with their hands lately."

" Serve them right, too. They hev allays
got some fad on hand about lifting them up/
and makin gentlemen and ladies of born hands.
When a cup is made o common pottery you
can t turn it into fine Darby china ; and it ll
tak a cleverer man than owd Warps to mak



JOE. 25

gentlemen o his hands by persuading them to
read t poets."

" He subscribed $oo to the new reading-
room."

" Does ta think, Joe, I hevn t heard tell o
that ? Cwd Warps likes to show himsen his
better side out, and that is why he gave ^500;
but when all is reckoned up, he ll mebbe not
hev given as much as other folk. I gave ^100,
but best givers are them as hev to pinch them-
sens a bit to spare aught ; and what wi buying
wool, and paying wages, I hedn t a ^500 to
spare; I hedn t that. Keep your sitting, Joe."
Then he pushed the wine across the table, and
said, " Tak a glass with me, my lad. I am going
to mak thee a fine offer, and we ll drink to it."

Joe looked steadily at his father, and then
slowly filled his glass. There were a few mo-
ments of strained silence, then he asked,

"What is it, father?"

" I wer thinking that thou must hev hed
enough of learning by this time, and that hap-
pen thou would like to frame thysen to busi
ness."

" I am not likely ever to have enough of
learning, father. But I do think that I ought



26 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

to be doing something like work. Why ! I am
nearly twenty-two years old."

"To be sure thou art! Varry well, then,
when will ta come to t mill ? There s a deal for
thee to get at thy finger-ends, for I d like thee
to know t business from A to Z."

" I was not thinking of the mill, father."

"Oh! Thou wasn t thinking of t mill.
What was ta thinking of, then ?"

" I was thinking of the law."

"Thou was thinking of the law, was ta?
Think away, my lad. But for a* thy thinking
thou art bound to take thy part in Market-Bev-
in Mill."

"I am not yet bound to any thing or to
any one, for that matter. I have made up my
mind to be a lawyer. I hate the sight of the
looms, and the men in their blue pinafores, and
the slatternly, down-at-heel women. I must do
some better work than that."

" I hope ta may ! I hope to goodness thou
may ! But I don t think thou will iver do as
good work as I hev done. Come, Joe ; come,
my lad ! Do thy duty by t business, and we
will varry soon hev t biggest mill and the
highest chimney i Wharfdale."



JOE. 27

" I am sorry to disappoint you, father."

" Why-a ! I hev been thinking o takin
thee into t mill iver since I laid the first stone
of it, Joe. I hev thought for thee and worked
for thee iver since thou wert born. Thou must
go to t mill, or it will be t worse for thee.
Mind that, my lad ; for I am in downright
earnest."

" So am I, sir."

The threat had decided Joe. The proposal
had found him in a contradictious, self-willed
temper, and the half menace was just the thing
he would not stand. In the moment, without
thought, without any real inclination, he had
said he would be a lawyer, and now he was de
termined to stand to the statement, whatever
the result might be.

Both men became steadily more and more
positive and angry. Amos had risen and taken
his favorite position on the hearth-rug. Joe,
reclining in a large chair, picked his teeth, and
looked quite away from his irate father. One
would have supposed that all his interests were
connected with the lilacs and laburnums blow
ing at the open window.

"I sail make thee one more offer," said



*S MASTER ~)F HIS FATE.

Amos, at length; if thou refuses it I sail
niver, niver moro Onsider thee to hev part or
lot in my mill. Next Monday come to t mill.
I ll give the ^500 a year, and if all is as it
should be, at the end of three years I ll give
thee a sixth interest. Then thou can marry
and make a man o thysen."

" You intend to be very good to me, father."

" I do that, Joe. Think well, my lad, afore
thou speaks. Thou knows well that I ll niver
go back on aily word I say."

" If I feiJ obliged to refuse your offer, father,
then "

"Then, I will give thee ^"5,000. Thou can
mak or mar with it, as suits thy fancy. That
is a I have to say."

" I will take the ^"5,000, father."

"Thou sail hev it to-morrow morning.
Don t ee think that I sail iver ask thee
again."

" Dear father ! "

" Nay-a, nay-a ! Thou needn t dear me now.
Yes, father, would have been more son-like,
and more to the purpose. I hev been a bit
soft about thee, but I can mend that I can
mend that."



JOE. 29

" Every man has a right, father, to choose
his own life-work."

" Nowt of t sort ! Them as does it mostly
mak s a pretty mess o their life-work. Thy
work is ready at thy hands. It is flying in t*
face of Providence to think thou can lay any
better out for thysen."

"A man finds out things by experience by
trying."

" If ta likes that way, tak it. But remem
ber this : if ta thinks of heving thy awn way,
until ivery thing is at sixes and sevens wi thee,
and then thinks thou can turn round and tak
my way, thou will find thysen a bit mistaken."

" I shall never ask you for any thing but what
you choose to give me, father."

" I told thee I would give thee 5,000. Thou
can do whativer ta likes with it."

" I shall enter myself to read with Perkins."

" Do as ta likes ; do as ta likes. What ta
does will be naught to me."

Then Amos threw his red bandanna handker
chief over his head, settled himself in his chair,
and in a few minutes seemed to be asleep.
But sleep was far from him. Tears come as
hard as blood from some men, and Amos was



3 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

of this class. Yet great, bitter tears rolled
slowly down his rugged face that evening, tears
which the bandanna hid, but which no human
hand could wipe away. Never before in all
his struggling, successful life had he felt such
sharp sorrow, such keen disappointment. For
he had not realized until that hour how dear
his son was to him, how inextricably bound
up in all his hopes and happiness.

And he had said words he never could un
say. Indeed, the possibility of unsaying them
never presented itself to him. It might kill
him to "stick up " to the threat he had made ;
all the same, he knew that he should stand to
every letter of it. And he expected nothing
less from Joe. He would almost have despised
him if he had returned and asked to be allowed
to accept his offer. To back out of a position
once taken is a thing few Yorkshiremen can
contemplate, and both father and son under
stood that the few positive words said that
night had separated their paths forever.

Joe went at once to his aunt, and told her
of his interview and its result. She did not
fully sympathize with him.

" Thou hes been in too big a hurry, Joe,"



JOE. 31

she said. " If thou hed taken a more round
about road to thy awn way, thou would hev
gotten it all the sooner, lad, thou would that.
Now, then, thou hes flung away about half a
million o money, what is ta going to do with
thy $,ooo? Thou, that hes hed every thing
to come and tak from."

" I never had more than 300 a year."
" Hey ! but thou counts things varry care
lessly. Thou hed 300 a year for pocket-
money, Joe, only for pocket money. Thou
wilt hev to find thy awn bed and board now.
Thou wilt hev to pay thy own tailor s bills,
and many another bill beside. And thou knows
well, Joe, that I hevn t t ways and t means to
help thee much."

Joe was fond of luxuries, and this view of
the question had not presented itself before.
Yet it was evident he would have to leave his
father s house. He would have to take upon
himself the cares of life and living. The
thought sobered him considerably. He wished
in his heart that he had not been so ready to
fling away half a million of money; but he
kept his lips tightly drawn for fear he should
give utterance to the regretful thought.



32 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

As he sat half-stupefied by this sudden
change in his fortunes, he looked gloomily
round his handsome rooms, and wondered how
much it would cost to rent others in any way
approaching them in comfort. Then he took
a piece of paper, and jotted down the out
standing bills in his name, and they made a
total which compelled him to realize the
amount of his expenditure as he had never
done before. Even taking into account the
natural hopefulness of youth, it must be ad
mitted that Joe Braithwaite did not spend a
much happier night than his father did.



CHAPTER III.

A GREAT CHANGE.

Whose fortune is not fitted to his will,
Too great or little, is uneasy still.

Fortune is a goddess only to fools ; the wise are always

masters of their own.

DRYDEN.

The noisy markets of the law,
The camp of gowned war.

CoWLEY.

AMOS and his son met in the morning with
more ceremony than Joe intended or
desired. In fact, there was both sorrow and
some thoughts of surrender in his heart when
he said, "Good-morning, father."

" Good-morning, sir. Take a cup o coffee,
and then we will finish that bit o business we
began last night."

The cool, civil greeting hurt Joe far worse
than either angry reproaches or angry silence
could have done. Not once during the meal



34 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

did he utter the young man s familiar name.
It was no longer Joe, and the substitution of
the word sir was too marked to escape notice.
It was a very wretched meal, and soon over.
Then Amos took a cheque from his pocket,
and laying it down by Joe s side, said, " Tak
that bit o paper to Thornton. He ll give thee
its value in Bank o England notes."

" Thank you, father."

" Eh ! but thou would hev been welcomer to
a hundred times as much if ta would nobbut
hev stood by my side while I wer living, and
in my shoes when I wer dead. But when a
bird hes found out as one nest won t do for it,
happen it s right to mak itsen another. Good
bye, sir."

" Father ! Don t leave me in that way."

" Dal it, lad ! T way is good enough for t*
occasion. Ingratitude and disobedience seem
to be rooted in children, and what is bred in
them is none easy to get out. Well, well,
things being as they are, I may as well tak to
them at once."

Martha Thrale had not appeared at the
breakfast table. She had a sharp tongue, and
was ready to use it, and she feared to make bad



A GREAT CHANGE. 35

worse by some inappropriate remark, which
would irritate her brother-in-law and call forth
Joe s championship. She hoped, if left to
themselves, some compromise would be arrived
at, or, at least, that the parting might be made
with a more kindly and hopeful tone for the
future.

And with that pitiful instinct of womanhood
which has learned to appeal to a man s lower
sensibilities, she had prepared with care the
breakfast dishes Amos particularly liked, had
seen that the room wore its pleasantest aspect,
and that every trifling circumstance should be
conducive to a mood of satisfaction.

Amos took no note of any of these small
attentions. Had one of them been neglected,
he would probably have called the whole house
to task for the omission ; but the comforts
ready to his hand he seemed to be unconscious
of. And Joe was too anxious to notice any
thing beyond his father s stubborn coldness and
his aunt s absence. There was also a feeling
in his heart that this was the last meal he would
ever eat in Bevin Hall, and that it was a very
unhappy one.

Amos left the table first. He took off his



3 6 MASTER OF HIS FA7 E.

slippers, tossed them across the hearthrug, and
laced his mill boots with trembling but deliber.
ate hands. He had no more to say to Joe ;
and he seemed to feel his presence an annoy
ance. It was not difficult for Joe to be aware
of this sentiment, and the young man said, " I
am only waiting for Aunt Martha, father. I will
not trouble you any longer than is necessary."

" That is as it sud be. When two can t hit
on, why, then, t sooner they part t better for
t both o them."

Then he lifted his head, stamped his feet well
down into his boots, and taking the morning
paper from the table, turned to leave the room.
Joe intercepted him, and said, " Shake hands,
father, at any rate."

But he turned his back squarely on Joe s
offered hand. He would not see the tears in
his son s eyes or the anxiety on his face. He
hurried out of the room and the house, and
spoke to the waiting coachman in a voice that
made the man wonder what was coming next.

Martha understood his manner only too well.
She perceived at once that her little plans and
hopes were a failure. As soon as Amos was
clear of the house she went to her nephew,



A GREAT CHANGE. 37

though she was not pleased with him for the
hurry and decision of the attitude he had taken.
Why had he not waited a little, compromised
a little, given up a little, as a son should have
done to a good father ?

But she was determined to stand by Joe
right or wrong, she meant to stand by him.
Her love for the lad, and her promise to her
sister, included all the devotion she understood
by " standing with " any person or principle.
And Joe very soon made her see things very
much as he saw them. She looked into the
young fellow s handsome face and tearful eyes,
and " wondered however his father could bide
to turn his back on such a son." She thought
his refusal to shake hands with Joe " a shame
ful bit o pride and hard-hearted cruelty." She
came very speedily to the opinion that " Amos
had no right to offer up his son s life, as well as
his own, to the welfare of Bevin Mill, a big,
smoking monster as it is ! " She added, angrily,
" Wife and child might feed t fires that keep
it going rather than he d see it stop. Joe, my
lad, thou art right in t main, and I ll stand up
for thee through thick and thin. Whatever is
ta going- to do now? "



3 8 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

" I shall take some rooms in Market-Bevin,
and read law with Perkins."

" Varry good, if Perkins will have thee."

"No fear of that, Aunt Martha. I shall
have a good bit of money to pay him, no doubt ;
but I should have to pay a stranger the same.
I am none fond of strangers."

" Thou might happen find thysen better off
among strangers."

" Market-Bevin is my native town. I won t
let father think he can turn me out of it as
well as out of his own house."

"Thy father is a big man in Market-Bevin.
Thou won t find it easy to live there if he sets
himself against it."

4 Why should he ? Studying law with Per
kins is not a crime, I hope."

" Mebbe not ; go and see Perkins. I think
he ll open thy eyes a bit. And then, if ta
wants rooms, go to Ann Guiseley s ; she hes
some to rent, and she ll cook thy victuals as
they sud be cooked, for I taught her mysen."

" When will you come and see me ? "

" I ll hev a talk wi thy father when he comes
from t mill to-night ; and I ll let thee knowalJ
about it as quick as iver I can."



A GREAT CHANGE. 39

"Then I will go and talk with Perkins at
once; for I could see that father does not want
me here any longer. And this afternoon I
will remove my clothes and books and such
trifles as are really mine."

It might be thought that a young man among
life-long friends, and with .5,000 in his pock
ets, would find an open door into life. But
Joe s first experience was not a flattering one.
Perkins was in when he called, but he kept
Joe waiting in his outer office until every par
ticle of his enthusiasm and self-reliance seemed
to have evaporated.

And when he heard of the quarrel between
father and son he became very cold and cau
tious. It was by no means to his advantage
to put himself in opposition to Amos. The
master of Bevin Mill was of an extremely litig
ious temper, and had for many years been the
source of a considerable yearly income to Per
kins, and was likely to continue to be so. The
whole of Joe s $,ooo would not have bribed
him to find a vacancy in his office. He even
turned mentor, deprecated the step Joe had
taken, and advised him, as a friend, to go back
to his father and make his peace with him.



4 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

" He is a bit masterful, ivery body knows
that, Joe," said Perkins, with a smile he meant
to be conciliatory ; " but if two men ride t same
horse, one must ride behind ; and that is thy
place, Joe."

" Unless I ride my own horse."

" For sure ! Only, thou will need a varry
strong nag to carry thee where ta wants to go.
Put up wi thy father a bit, lad. He hes got-
ten that used to telling folk they must do this,
and they mustn t do that, that he thinks t varry
stars sud do as he bids em."

" But, Perkins, I am a man now I have a
right to my own opinions."

"A pity on thee, Joe! If ta can t learn to
smile as t wind smiles, thou wilt varry soon
take cold, ay, varry soon take cold. Well, a
good-morning to thee. I m particular busy
at present."

Thus Joe got his first rebuff from a stranger.
He felt it hard to bear. Angry and humilia
ted, he talked over the interview with Aunt
Martha in no reasonable mood, and as Perkins
was also one of her aversions she gave Joe per
haps an unwise amount of sympathy.

Besides, it nearly broke her heart to see him



A GRE A 7 CHANGE. 4 1

packing his trunks, " turned out o house and
home just because he couldn t frame himsen
to give his life to t mill." And when Joe
had really gone away, when his room was left
desolate and dismantled, she sat down in it,
and wept bitterly.

" I ll niver stop here any longer," she mut
tered. " T light of t house hes been put out.
It hes been slave and save, and worry and
fret and bide his tempers, and do his bid
ding for twenty-four years. That is about
long enough for any woman to put up wi him.
I promised Ann that I would stick by Joe,
and I am going to stick by Joe. I ll not hear
a word wrong of Joe v from anybody; and
Amos will find that out sooner than he thinks
for."

All day long her fits of crying were inter
rupted by such communions and conversations
with herself. Amos never suspected such a
state of feeling. On the contrary, he was cer
tain that he would at least have Martha Thrale s
sympathy ; for he knew that she had always
been opposed to any plan which would take
Joe permanently from under her care.

So he was glad when the day was over. It



42 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

had been, perhaps, one of the most wretched
in his whole life. Among the clatter and clash
of a thousand looms he had not been able to
forget his sorrow, even though the hands had
given him unusual opportunities of relieving
his irritation. But the weariest day comes to
a close, and he stood, at last, outside the mill
gates, holding the big keys in his hand, and
vacantly watching the groups of chattering
lads and lasses strolling over the moor to their
homes.

A strange reluctance to go to his own home
was in his heart. He had no need to inquire
of it. He knew that he dreaded the lonely
dinner-table ; for Martha Thrale, in the way of
men s talk, he counted as nobody. He had
always conversed with Joe about politics, about
the local spinners and manufacturers, their
ways and doings, their trade and their solvency,
their gains and losses. He did not call it gos
sip, but it was the talk in which he delighted ;
for he considered that other people s business
might have a good deal to do with his own.

Several things had happened that day which,
in the usual course of events, he would have
enjoyed discussing with Joe. Then he recog-



A GREAT CHANGE. 43

nized with fresh anger that not only in the
mill, but also in his home pleasures, Joe s diso
bedience was a grievous curtailment of his life.
So when he saw Martha s red and swollen eyes
he had a moment s regret even for her.

" No wonder thou hes been crying, lass," he
said ; " it s enough to mak thee cry. After a
thou hes done for him, too ! Whativer does ta
think of his ways ! It caps a I iver heard tell
of!"

She looked up at him with flashing eyes.

" I hev been thinking o thy conduct all day,
Amos ; and I m bound to say I think thee a
godless, heartless old man as iver was."

" Why-a ! Martha ! "

" I do. And thou needn t frown at me, for
it s true true as gospel. When did thou iver
love aught but gold ? Thou let my poor sister
die without one word o love or regret. I sent
to t mill and told thee she wer* dying one day,
and thou wert too busy to come. Thou niver
did aught to win thy poor boy s confidence and
respect, and now, to top ivery thing, thou turns
him out into t streets. Poor lad ! Poor Joe ! "

" Dost ta think that nobody suffers but thee
and Joe ? I hev some feelings too, I reckon."



44 MASTER UF I-JIS FATE.

" Not thou ! And if ta hes, don t thee come
to me for comfort or sympathy. I hev none
for thee. Go to thy money bags. Thou hes
sacrificed ivery thing for them. And if ta does
not repent varry soon, thou wilt die wicked and
alone ! "

"Martha Thrale, will ta stop? Hes ta lost
thy senses, lass ? "

" No, I ll not stop till I hev lied my say ;
thou wilt die, Amos, without a kind hand to
close thy greedy old eyes, that hev niver looked
up to heaven, nor a bit higher than t top o
thy mill chimney. That is what I think o
thee, Amos Braithwaite."

" Thou isn t thy own sel at all, Martha.
Thou art sick, my lass."

" I am better ivery way than thou art ; and
when thou comes to die, thou lt be forced to
leave ivery penny o thy brass behind thee
ivery penny of it, Amos, and go where money
is of no account at all."

" Hev done wi thee, Martha. Hes ta lost
thy senses ? Whativer dost ta want ?

" I want thee to do summat to bring
back thy only child before it be past thy
doing."



A GREAT CHANGE. 45

" I ll not lift a finger to bring him back.
Not I."

" Varry well then, thou wilt hev to tak t*
consequences."

"Ay, I ll tak them."

" My sister Ann

" Let thy sister Ann alone; and mind this?
I ll not hev Joe Braithwaite s name spoken in
my house by thee nor by any ither body.
And I ll marry again if I want to. And I ll
hev such friendship as is going these days. If
Joe Braithwaite can do without me, I can do
without him, varry well, indeed ! Why-a ! I hev
made half a million o money, or near by it, and
I hev made mysen a man."

" For sure thou hes, and a right mean job
thou hes made o thysen. When thou was at
it, thou might hev done it a bit better, I think.
There is varry little reason to crack up thy
cloth, if ta mak s it no better than thou hes
made thysen. And what is half-a-million o
money ? I ll warrant our Joe will mak more
than that before he is thy age."

" Thou wilt hev to leave my house if ta goes
on this-a-way ! "

" I am going to leave it. Does ta think I



46 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

would stop wi thee, and poor Joe driven into
t street ? If I did, I would be a disgrace to
mysen, and to all t Thrales, living or dead.
And thou can pay me my wages this varry
hour if ta likes, for I m fain to get out o thy


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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrMaster of his fate → online text (page 2 of 13)