Copyright
Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

Master of his fate online

. (page 3 of 13)
Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrMaster of his fate → online text (page 3 of 13)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


house."

" Does ta mean what ta says? "

"Yes, I do that."

" Then get thee ready and go. I hevn t such
a thing as a favor to ask of thee."

So that evening, as Joe sat very disconso
lately in Ann Guiseley s best parlor, he was
joined by Martha Thrale. She came in about
eight o clock, flushed and excited, and still
trembling from her unusual interview with
Amos. This sudden and violent breaking of
the last tie between himself and his father
affected Joe very much. He was almost
inclined to blame Martha for her want of
patience.

" If you had stopped beside him, I should
have had some one to say a good word for me,"
he said, reproachfully.

" Ay, lad ; but why, then, didn t thou stop
and say thy own good words ? "

" What shall I do, Aunt Martha ?



A GREA T CHANGE. 47

" Here is Ann Guiseley coming wi" a cup o
tea for me, and much I need it ; while I drink
it I ll tell thee what I think. It s plain that
Josiah Perkins does not want thee."

" He is afraid to offend my father ; and I
daresay that every one in Market-Bevin will
feel very much as Perkins does."

" It s more than likely. Well, then, I am
going to Leeds. I shall take a house and
furnish it, and let such of t rooms as I don t
want. There s Halifax Brothers, lawyers, in
Leeds. I reckon as they hev as good a name
as old Perkins."

This suggestion pleased Joe very much. It
took him out of the immediate neighborhood
of his father, and yet was not far enough away
from his life centre to give him a feeling of
loneliness or remoteness. In all its phases the
plan was thoroughly discussed between them
that night, for Martha was a woman, not only
of rapid thought, but also of rapid action.
Within a month she had a very handsome
home in Leeds, and Joe had been properly
articled to Halifax Brothers, solicitors.

There was no law firm in the West Riding
that had a higher reputation in civil cases



48 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

requiring a shrewd cleverness just touching
something that might be called by a less respec
table name. But if Amos Braithwaite had
wished his son to be a lawyer, then Halifax
Brothers would have been the ideal masters at
whose feet he would have desired him to sit.

When he heard from Perkins where Joe had
placed himself, he felt a real sentiment of
respect for his son.

" It s a move as might hev been expected o
my son," he said. " T lad is no fool ; and if
he wants to make his brass by ither folks
cheatry and quarrelling, there s nobody i York
shire that could better teach him to steal by
line and level than Tom Halifax can,"



CHAPTER IV.

THUS RUNS THE WORLD AWAY.

in unseen hand makes all our moves ;
A.nd some are great, and some are small,
Nor kings, nor nations, nor united power,
One moment can retard an appointed hour.

COWLEY.

Or. what strange grounds we build our hopes and fears !
JSjins life is all a mist, and in the dark
Our fortunes meet us.

DRYDEN.

IT was true that in his sudden determination
to become a lawyer, Joe had pleased Martha
as little as he had pleased his father. For if
Amos had wished to place his son among the
nobles of the Bradford House of Woollen Lords,
Martha had had her dreams of seeing her
nephew hold forth to admiring thousands from
a Wesleyan pulpit.

But Joe, as he grew to manhood, drew away
from the chapel, and affected to entirely dis
approve of Methodist faith and discipline.



5 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

His disagreements with his aunt on this sub
ject had privately given Amos much amuse
ment. He enjoyed this form of Joe s dissent,
and was accustomed to say, " Joe, and ivery
other lad wi his common-senses, ought to hev
perfect freedom of opinion. That was t varry
spirit o dissent, and if Joe was a dissenter,
then he wanted him to know t ifs and t ands/
and t ins and t outs of t chapel he went to.
He was a Church o England man himsen, but
he hed nowt to say against his son being a
dissenter if t lad liked following his aunt
instead o his father."

So no one could deny that in religious mat
ters Amos was grandly tolerant. It was in
business affairs he regarded dissent as an
unpardonable offence. Joe s right of private
judgment stopped at Bevin Mill. Martha s
views were essentially different. She thought
Joe s wealth and position gave him splendid
opportunities for honoring the cause and the
connection she loved. She did not think he
was doing right to evade the responsibilities of
his birth. But she was quite ready to support
him in his refusal to offer up his life to the
advancement of Bevin Mill.



THUS RUNS THE WORLD A WAV. 5 1

Consequently, when he suddenly declared his
intention to be a lawyer, Amos and Martha,
both alike, suffered a keen disappointment,
only Amos allowed it to canker his whole life,,
without let or hindrance, or future hope, and
Martha accepted the inevitable, and tried to
make the best of it. For it is characteristic of
good women that when they cannot get what
they want they try to be pleased with what
they can get.

Martha did her best to accept the law and
Tom Halifax, though she by no means ap.
proved of Tom Halifax. Hitherto she had
only known him by report, as a shrewd lawyer,
whose legal fencing and clever repartees were
the popular after-dinner talk of farmers and
business men. But he took that sudden and
warm liking for Joe which middle-aged, gay
bachelors often take for handsome young men.
He was dissatisfied without his society, and
eager to initiate him into all his own
pleasures.

And the son of old Amos Braithwaite easily
made himself popular and welcome, especially
with mothers who had large families of pretty,
marriageable daughters. He was fine-looking



52 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

and agreeable, the probable heir of half-a-miliion
of money, the favorite and friend of the pet
lawyer of the locality. It was likely enough
he would become a partner in the firm of
Halifax Brothers, and most of the women
believed that he would very speedily regain
his father s love. The men, however, or at
least such of them as knew Amos Braithwaite,
were less sanguine.

" He ll do nowt o t sort," said Ezra Dea-
conson to his wife as she was speaking of Joe s
attentions to her own pretty Mattie. " He ll
<do nowt o t sort. Thou doesn t know Amos
Braithwaite, or thou would never say it. I
hevn t seen him mysen for years and years, but
I can reckon him up pretty well. If he has
turned his back on his son, there s nothing but
t almighty hand o God could mak Amos face
about."

" I don t think that bad of him, Ezra. I hev
spoke with them as knows Braithwaite varry
well, and I hev heard em say, thet if you can
only get on t right side of him, you ll find a
kind heart below his stubborn will and gruff
speech."

" What by that, Martha? What by that ?



THUS RUNS THE WORLD AWAY. 53

Did ta iver hear tell of any one who did get
on t right side o him? I ll warrant thou
hesn t. Thou keep our Mattie away from Joe
Braithwaite ; t little lass will hev too much
brass for that young man to handle."

" Deary me, Ezra ! Brass seems to come
into ivery thought, sweethearting and all. It is
a wonderful thing ! "

" Ay, it is; when a man knows how to use
it."

" Tom Halifax was saying that there is talk
of Amos Braithwaite marrying a young woman,
and going in for a bit o pleasure in his old
days."

" Amos is none such a fool. Amos knows
well enough he d hev no pleasure outside his
mill. Without t looms he d be about as mis
erable as a gambler would be without his cards.
I did hear summat about Lottie Greenwood and
Amos, but I set little by wedding talk, till I
see t wedding. Wherever womenfolk are con
cerned hearsay don t do for me ; I wouldn t
swear even to my awn eyesight."

The report, however, which coupled the
names of Amos Braithwaite and Lottie Green
wood was not without foundation. He had



54 MASTED OF HIS FATE.

said he would marry again, and have such
friendship as was going. In the first smart of
his desertion, it seemed to him the surest
way to show Joe that he had cast him off for
ever, and also to insure such domestic comfort
as he wanted.

Now, if he had been looking for wool, he
would have known exactly where to go for the
quality he desired ; but he felt like a man in a
strange world when he wanted a wife. It hap
pened, however, that he had one day an occa
sion to call on Jonathan Greenwood about some
special hands, and as they sat talking Lottie
came into the room. She was fresh and rosy
from the breezy walk upon the moor, and her
bright black eyes, and fine color, and buxom
form attracted Amos.

He stayed to tea and played a game of whist
afterwards, and Lottie was his partner. When
he went home he was considerably under the
fascination of her bright eyes, and he kept say
ing to himself, " There will be no fear of a girl
like that turning sick on my hands, and mebbe
I might hev a bit o house-comfort wi her, if I
could only frame mysen to marry again."

For a month things progressed very favora-



THUS RUNS THE WORLD AWAY. 55

bly. He had not asked Lottie to be his wife,
but he was on the way to do so one night when
he met an old acquaintance on the road. He
offered him a seat in his gig, and they fell into
conversation. Amos himself introduced the
subject of the Greenwoods, and the man, who
really knew nothing of his intention, went back
ward in his own memory to find a reason for
his evident desire to talk about them. Then
he remembered that Joe Braithwaite had once
been an admirer of Lottie, and he said, " Hap
pen thou art trying to put things right again
between thy Joe and Greenwood s pretty lass ?"

Amos looked sharply at the questioner, but
it was evident the remark had been made in
good faith, so he replied, with well-assumed in
difference, " Not I. I niver bothered mysen
wi Joe s love affairs ; I d hev had a lot to do
if I d tried thet job. So Joe were sweet on
Lottie Greenwood ? I niver heard tell o that."

" Joe s hed lots o sweethearts."

" I dare be bound he had ; but I niver heard
o Greenwood s daughter before."

* Oh, but you know, they wer* varry thick
once on a time. Folks thought they would
marry, but they didn t."



56 MASTER OF HIS FATE,

" No, they didn t. That s so. Mebbe t lass
wasn t fond o Joe. Mebbe she jilted him.
Girls hev jilted finer fellows than Joe Braith-
waite, I ll warrant."

" It wer Joe s fault, I reckon. Lottie Green-
wood. was uncommon fondo him, I heard. And
t old folks wer varry set up with t idea. They
had parties and stirrings on a grand scale for
them. That showed how fain for i match they
wer ; for they are a scraping, careful pair, aren t
they ? "

"I fancy they are. But a love for brass is
common enough. I d like a bit more mysen.
If ta will step down now I ll bid thee good
night, for I m bound for Greenwoods, and I m
obliged to thee for telling me about my Joe
and Lottie. I shall look a bit closer at her to
night. Why ! she might hev been my daugh
ter?" And Amos laughed loudly, and whipped
up his mare like a man in a great hurry.

And the acquaintance whom he dropped
laughed too. " Old Cobwebs knows a about
wool," he muttered ; " but if he goes to both
ering wi women, he will find out varry quick
what an ignoramus he is."

Amos had already begun to suspect it. He



THUS RUNS THE WORLD AWAY. 57

was congratulating himself for offering Hartley
a ride, when he entered Lottie s presence.
She happened to be quieter than usual, a little
sad and sentimental. It was a mood Amos
could not understand, and which had not
pleasant associations. Besides, it instantly
struck him that Lottie was perhaps fretting a
little for Joe. The thought made it very easy
for him to speak.

" Lottie," he said, " did ta iver know Joe
Braithwaite?"

" Yes, I knew him. He used to call here
often, once."

"Was he in love wi thee?

" Perhaps he was."

" Was ta in love with him ? "

" You shouldn t ask such questions."

" Ay, but I should," he was looking stead
ily at her. "Thou quarreled wi Joe, didn t
ta?"

" I think Joe behaved badly."

" I hev no doubt he did. It comes easy for
Joe to behave badly. And thou wanted to be
even with him, didn t ta ? If ta married me,
thou could pay him back, couldn t ta ? "

"Joe is a bad son. Joe is true to nobody."



5 8 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

" Ay, he is a bad son. I told him I d marry
again, and I hed some thoughts o asking thee
to be my wife."

Lottie looked up, and then down, with a
most encouraging smile.

"But I hev changed my mind since I heard
tell o Joe. I don t want any cast-off sweet
heart of Joe s. So we ll be off wi that bargain.
There are plenty o matrimonial failures, with
out us makin another on t black list, I m
sure."

Naturally Lottie was at once indignant.
She told Amos very decidedly that she had
never had the slightest intention of marrying
him. And Amos was delighted to have her
look at the situation in that light. It put the
blame of the rupture just where it suited him
to have it. For, though he expected men to
twit him about wearing the willow, etc., he
knew that he could bear that accusation far
more comfortably than a legal inquiry, which
might cost him golden guineas to heal the hurt
his fickleness had given Miss Lottie.

This was the only experiment Amos made
looking toward domestic or social happiness.
He congratulated himself that it had been a



THUS RUNS THE WORLD AWAY. 59

failure, and henceforward he determined to
seek neither the friendship of men nor the love
of women. He virtually closed his house, for
he confined himself to the parlor in which he
ate and the room in which he slept. And he
dismissed all his servants, excepting the old
woman who cooked his food, and her husband,
who attended to his horse and gig, and pot
tered about the garden at odd hours.

Then he devoted himself, body and soul, to
the mill which Joe had despised. He built
wings to it, and added a story, and lengthened
the chimney until it overtopped all the chim
neys far and near. He filled it with the
finest machinery. He employed only the
most competent hands. He utilized every
drop of water and every ounce of steam so
cleverly that people said, " If there were only
the power of a blue-bottle fly owd Braith-
waite would turn it to account." He was
always busy and active and apparently so
cheerful that no one suspected him to be at
heart an unhappy and bitterly disappointed
man,

In the meantime, Joe was taking his exist
ence with a large measure of content. Aunt



60 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

Martha watched over his comfort with that
priceless common-place love which does not
disdain the oversight of very inferior details,
which can superintend meals and oversee
stockings and buttons, and is not to be frittered
away by continual small demands on forbear
ance and sympathy. For in scarcely any
respect did Joe fulfil Martha Thrale s personal
hopes and desires. He turned out to be a
society man instead of a chapel man. He
went to balls and parties, he dressed elegantly,
and visited in the grandest houses. He was
a kind of leader in a very fashionable set.
And of course $,ooo could not last for ever,
even when a man is nowise troubled about
board and lodging bills. So, at the end of
four years dressing and visiting and driving,
Joe s credit was no longer represented by four
figures, for he had dipped deeply into his last
thousand. However, he was then ready to go
into business, and he felt sure that the large
circle of friends he had made would repay
the expense of making them. He furnished a
handsome office and announced himself to the
public as Attorney-at-law. But Yorkshiremen
are proverbially cautious, and a handsome,



THUS RUNS "1HE WORLD AWAY. 6 1

good-natured, fashionably-dressed young man
was the very antipodes of their ideal lawyer.
Joe could not look crafty or wise under any
circumstances, and during the first year of his
professional life he did not make sufficient
money to pay his office rent.

Nevertheless Joe did not in any way think
of curtailing his expenses. When the summer
holidays arrived, he went as usual to a favor-
ite watering-place. He admitted to himself
that it might be the last summer he could af
ford the luxury, and he determined to make
the most of his pleasure. No face was so
bright, no heart so gay, no one so entertaining
and so popular.

In the height of the season there was a re
port that stirred the heart of every young man
in Harrowgate ; Miss Edith Bradley was com
ing. She was said to be beautiful, she was
known to be immensely wealthy. She was
only twenty-two years old, and therefore not
past the age in which women are apt to think
the world well lost for love.

Joe had heard before of Miss Bradley ; not
so much of Miss Bradley as of her father. Old
Luke Bradley had been always a Mordecai to



62 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

his own father. There had been a deep and
long-cherished grudge between the two men.
Both of them had loved AnnThrale, and Amos
had won her. After her decease, Luke had
spoken warmly concerning the indifference of
Amos to her comfort while she was living, and
to her memory when she was dead. He had
emphasized his opinions by many well-directed
interferences with the business of Bevin Mill.
He had bid wool up when Amos wished to buy.
He had bought off hands Amos wished to re
tain. He had dropped words and looks before
probable customers which had doubtless lost
Amos many a sovereign. He had run against
him for local offices, and always defeated him ;
in short, he had been a stumbling block and an
offense in every business plan, and in every
social ambition which Amos had conceived.

Joe remembered w r ell the reticent satisfaction
which the news of his death had given at Bevin
Hall. Arnos had not, at that hour, spoken a
word expressive of his feelings; but all the
same he had not been able to hide his senti
ments. He might just as well have said then,
what he said a few days afterward : " He ll hev
to abate himsen a bit now. He ll find out thet



THUS RUNS THE WORLD AWAY. 63

Luke Bradley can t order things as he fancies
em, for wherever he is, there s sure to be big
ger folk than he iver was. My word ! How
he used to jingle t guineas in his breeches
pocket, and then step out to t music they
made."

Joe remembered all these things. He had
felt thoroughly in sympathy with his father s
sense of injury from Luke Bradley, yet he had
a vague curiosity to see this daughter of their
enemy. The feeling was perhaps something
more than a curiosity ; it included a dim and
depressing presentiment about her, a conscious
ness which was stronger than his curiosity, and
which found a tangible expression in a reluc
tance to meet her.

And yet, unless he left Harrowgate, a meet
ing was inevitable. The question soon resolved
itself into two points, neither of which he had
any desire to face. First, if he liked Edith
Bradley, he would feel like a traitor to the
past, and to his father, and he would most
likely cast away the last chance of a reconcilia
tion with him. Second, if he did not like her,
it was probable the feeling would be mutual,
in which case Edith might say and do little



64 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

things which would make his longer stay an un
pleasant, perhaps a mortifying ordeal.

So he resolved to shorten his holiday. He
was nearly out of funds, and it was evident his
affairs were reaching a crisis. He took a quiet
stroll in the gardens to consider his future
course, and as he wandered thoughtfully under
the trees he saw two ladies sitting in a little
alcove in advance of him. One of them he
knew was Lilian Gates ; he recognized her short,
slight figure and shrill laugh ; the other was
Edith Bradley.

He knew it, though he could not have given
a single reason for knowing it. Retreat was
not possible, for the ladies must have seen him.
He dreaded Lilian s witty explanation of his
position. He would not have Edith Bradley
think he was afraid to meet her. So he ad
vanced slowly, bearing with a studied non
chalance their critical eyes. Lilian received
him with a frivolous badinage that was reas
suring, and he heard her go through some form
of introduction, and perceived that a tall,
noble-looking woman was bowing graciously in
response to the words uttered.

Under no circumstances had he ever been so



THUS RUXS THE WOULD AWAY. 65

abashed before. But presently he threw off
his unusual constraint, plunged boldly into
conversation, and ere long ventured to look
into Edith s face. He saw that she was a very
handsome woman, with soft, large eyes, em
phasized by dark, level brows, and thick bands
of black hair, hair which had naturally the
wave and ripple most women simulate by art.
Her complexion was brown, but her cheeks
were tinted by the most vivid carnation, and
when Joe lifted his eyes to her, and spoke a
few words of very common-place tenor, the
same bright color flushed her throat and
mounted to her wide, low brow. She was
dressed in silk, sort in texture, and like old
ivory in shade, brightened here and there with
bows of carnation ribbon. She affected Joe as
some gorgeous tropical flower might have done.
He did not, however, remain long in her
presence, for he was troubled about his dress
and appearance. He was sure that never
before had he worn so unbecoming a coat, nor
done himself so little justice. All thoughts of
leaving Harrogate were gone as if they had
never been. He felt that he would be miser-
able until he had done something to redeem



66 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

the unfavorable first impression which he was
convinced he had made upon Miss Bradley.

But Edith did not seem to have been at all
unfavorably impressed. On the contrary, when
Joe was out of sight and hearing, she said
softly, " What a pleasant man ! He affects one
like sunshine dancing in a room on a change
able spring day."

" He is a very handsome man," answered
Lilian. "The girls all admire his glinting blue
eyes and delightful temper. He is a great
favorite."

" And has he any special favorite ? Perhaps
you are his favorite, Lilian. That is the reason
you wanted to come into the gardens. You
knew he would meet you."

" No, indeed, Edith. I fancy his love would
be hard to win ; and maybe it would not repay
the girl who would be spendthrift enough to
squander her own on it."

Then Edith rose as if the subject no longer
interested her. " Let us go into the house,"
she said. " It has suddenly become dull. Is
it going to rain, I wonder?"



CHAPTER V.

JOE PLEASES HIS FATHER.

Fortune brings in some boats that are not steer cL
If money goes before, all ways lie open.
Love s reason s without reason.

Stony limits cannot hold love out ;
And what love can do, that dares love attempt.

IN every life there are moments which are
turning-points. After them nothing is
quite the same, and no effort brings back the
something which has been lost or changed.
Joe left Edith Bradley s presence conscious of
this feeling, and half resentful at it. He asked
himself what Luke Bradley s daughter could be
to him. He had been taught to hate Luke
Bradley, and he had done so thoroughly. To
love Edith was, in a fashion, to eat his own
and his father s words. " Father would have a
good right to be topping angry at me if I did
such a thing," he mused ; " and I m sure he d



68 MASTER OF HIS FA TE.

think that I did it just to make him angry. I
wouldn t do that, not I ! "

But, in spite of his efforts he could not keep
the beautiful Edith out of his mind. He
decided to leave Harrogate, and then found
half a dozen reasons for not doing so. In three
days he was deeply in love and beginning to
realize his position. It was all the harder
now to contemplate giving up all hope of win
ning Edith, because she had been so genuinely
kind to him. In many ways she had shown
her pleasure in his society and her preference
for it, and Joe found it impossible to resist her
many charms when he was within their influence.

This sweet uncertainty of love, this determi
nation to do one hour the thing which it is
determined not to do the next hour, is the
very atmosphere of an affection which is at
once alluring and unwise ; and Jce was restless
enough under the circumstances. One evening,
as he was walking through the pretty town, full
of vague longings and very positive anxieties,
he met Edith. She was so unaffectedly glad
to see him, and she blushed so brightly when
she looked into his face, that Joe forgot every
thing but the delight of the hour. Without



JOE PLEASES HIS FATHER. 69

any direct invitation she walked with him into
the outskirts of the town.

They found a rustic stile leading into a shady


1 3 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrMaster of his fate → online text (page 3 of 13)