Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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him very much. The glory of his marriage
feast was dimmed by their absence, and he was
almost painfully conscious of the exclusively
Bradley influence.

Edith had reigned at Bradley Court as sole
mistress, and the habit of authority was easily
confirmed in a woman of her temper. And
whatever power she might delegate to Joe after
their union, it was very evident he could not
assume any control before it. So that, neces
sarily, he was frequently placed in a position
apparently subordinate to Edith. However,
men in love generally assume with voluntary
eagerness just this part, and Joe, as a lover, was
scarcely averse to Edith s pretty, masterful

And after she became his wife, circumstances
for a time were all in Joe s favor. They were
nearly a year upon the continent, travelling in
countries whose language Edith could not
speak. But Joe, in spite of his father s opposi
tion, had managed to acquire a very fair knowl
edge of French and German, and Edith was


therefore compelled to rely entirely upon him
in all the exigencies of travel and dangers of
:, foreign shopping.

So during their ten months of travel Joe had
everything very much his own way. In all
their movements Edith deferred, with a charm
ing air of reliance, to his judgment ; and Joe
found a certain pleasure in very often relinquish
ing his judgment for her desires.

But when Edith returned to Bradley she was
on her native ground, and she quietly but
firmly resumed the power she had temporarily
abdicated. Nor could Joe very well complain.
He knew nothing of the affairs of Bradley
Manor, and Edith knew all its sources of rev
enue, knew the capabilities of every acre, the
net results of meadow and corn land, and the
probable amount of rent.

The day after their arrival at home, Perkins
came to Bradley Court and had a long inter
view with its mistress. Joe happened to be at
the stables when the consultation began, and
when he returned to the house no one remem
bered to call him to it. And the young hus
band was too proud, perhaps too offended, to
make any claim to a privilege not, under the


circumstances, offered him. He waited half an
hour, in hopes of being summoned, and then
ordered his horse and rode into Leeds to see
Martha Thrale.

He had some fine lace for her, and a Roman
brooch ; and the dear old lady was not proof
against such a peace offering. She kissed Joe
tenderly, and he was glad of this evidence of a
love, long-suffering and faithful, even through
slight and neglect. For he had not written to
her at all while he was away, and there was
still a little heartburning about her absence
from Joe s wedding. She had only wanted a
little personal urging from Joe and Edith, and
they had not given it. So in her heart she
believed that she was not really wanted ; that,
in fact, they were both a bit ashamed of her
homely speech and unfashionable ways.

But all her anger vanished when Joe took
her hands, and stooped his handsome head for
her welcoming kiss. She was pleased with his
remembrance and willing to forget her own
sense of wrong. She asked many questions
about Edith, and in the course of conversation
learned of Perkins s visit.

It was the first thing which brought a cloud


upon her sunny face. " Thou sud hev taken
thy proper place, Joe, this morning, and that
was at thy wife s side. Thou hes made a big
mistake, I fear me."

" I was not asked to take it. And when I
heard them counting money, I did not care to
seem to make a claim about it, so I thought I
would come over and see you for an hour. At
any rate, if I have to speak to Edith on this
matter, it is better to do so when we are alone.
I never trusted in Perkins s friendship."

" Now, then, I ll tell thee what will happen.
When ta gets home, Edith will be on her dig
nity a bit, or else she ll be heving a hurt
feeling at thee. She ll pretend that thou doesn t
like business, and that thou got out of t way
of it by coming to see me. Thou hes played
into her hand, my lad, finely."

"You see, aunt, she might be settling up
with Perkins. I can attend to her business
quite as well as he can for the future. If they
were having a final settlement, it was better
for me not to interfere."

" Does ta really believe that Perkins will give
up to thee? Not if he can help it. Now, then,
stand up for thy rights, Joe. Edith is that kind


of woman as will think the better of thee for

And, somehow, though Martha had not in
tended to do so, she sent Joe home with a
slight sense of injury in his heart, and a slight
stubbornness of will in regard to his own future-



Alas, how light a cause may move
Dissension between hearts that love !

He that lacks time to mourn lacks time to mend
Eternity mourns that. Tis an ill cure
For life s worst ills to have no time to feel them.
Where sorrow s held intrusive and turned out,
There wisdom will not enter, nor true power,
Nor aught that dignifies humanity.

FROM his conversation with Martha Thrale,
Joe rode home in a thoughtful and de
spondent mood, for when warning or doubtful
speeches hit us hard it is generally because
there is some similar doubt or warning in our
own breasts. And Joe did feel dissatisfied as
to his position and uncertain as to his move

At Edith s request he had closed his office in
Leeds before their marriage ; and though noth
ing had been said on the subject he naturally
expected to have the charge of the Bradley


Manor estate. Also, very naturally, Perkins
had no desire to relinquish so profitable a part
of his business. So something very like the
conversation which Martha Thrale anticipated
had really taken place that morning.

With words of praise for Joe s generous, gay
disposition, he had nevertheless managed to
make Edith feel that this very gaiety and
generosity were in opposition to the steady,
solid qualities necessary for the welfare of her
farms and investments. She was strongly con-
servative by nature. She preferred the same
people and the same methods ; she distrusted
change of every kind, and she had, perhaps,
too high an opinion of her own business tact,
and too low an estimate of her husband s. It
was Perkins s interest to strengthen both these
views, and he did not scruple to administer the
amount of flattery and distrust suitable to his

" I hev hed t entire charge o Bradley Manor
for more years than you hev been in t world,
Mrs. Braithwaite," he said, " and my father hed
it before me. There isn t a rood of land I
don t know t full value of ; and as for t leases
that are running, and falling in, it is summut


like an education to be up wi them. Mr.
Braithwaite is the best o good men, kind-
hearted and generous beyond iverything ; but
it isn t kindness and generosity that will make
Bradley pay. A landlord, or lady, hes to be a
bit hard these times to get their money back ;
and you hev some tenants, ma am, as would
just tak their awn way wi Mr. Braithwaite, that
is, unless you make out to do the business
yourself ; for I will say that there are varry few
lawyers in Yorkshire that could do it better
than you, or be a bit more prompt and even-
handed in a their ways."

" If you think Mr. Braithwaite is not able to
manage Bradley yet, Perkins, why, then, I shall
not try to do what you fear unadvisable for
him to attempt. It would be placing my hus
band in a very peculiar position."

" Naturally."

" So you had better retain your charge fot
this year at any rate. During the interval Mr.
Braithwaite will have time to become familiar
with the tenants and the land."

This appeared to be a fair and thoughtful ar
rangement both for the estate and the master
of it ; and Edith explained it to her husband in


her very sweetest way. But Joe did not receive
the explanation with the gay indifference of a
man whose sole business in life was to get rid
of trouble and enjoy himself. He grew white
with anger. He said very plainly that he
thought his wishes in the matter ought to have
been consulted, and he added, with some sense
of injury, that he did not like his wife taking
his business aptitudes at the valuation Joshua
Perkins chose to put upon them.

They had had little disagreements before,
but when a disagreement includes serious
money considerations, as well as a personal
slight, it has in it elements of heart-burning
not easily soothed. And ignoring a household
offence does not by any means cure it. Joe
did not again allude to Perkins, and Edith en
deavored to make her interviews with him as
unobtrusive as possible, yet both were con
scious of the perpetual wrong inflicted by this
want of mutual confidence and interest.

However, Joe had naturally a hopeful heart,
and his gay temper and fine health combined
with it made him turn with readiness, in the
main, to the brighter side of his position. He
was soon an immense favorite with the gentle-


men in his neighborhood. If there were a
county ball, or hunt, or public dinner, or polit
ical meeting, Mr. Braithwaite, of Bradley
Court, was sure to have the management of
the many troublesome details necessary to its

And for a little while Edith was pleased and
flattered by this social eclat and favor. It was
a kind of popular endorsement of the wisdom
of her marriage. For in her deepest conscious
ness she was often uneasy on this point. She
knew that her father had planned a much
grander lot for her. He had fully expected
that her fortune would buy her a title, and give
her through a noble husband the freedom of
those charmed circles which his own birth and
education prevented him from entering. So,
though she was unaware of his hatred of Joe s
father, she was nevertheless very certain that
her marriage with Joe would have been a great
disappointment to him.

For a few months then she was pleased and
flattered by her husband s popularity. She
liked to go to balls over which he exercised a
mimic sovereignty. It was something to see
noblemen ask his advice, and noble ladies


defer to his wishes, even on such trivial mat
ters as a hunt dinner or a masquerade. But
all earthly honors and pleasures have this great
drawback : they are dependent upon circum
stances, and they lose their value and charm
when these circumstances change. In time,
the very certainty of Joe s position, and the
general favor in which he was held, deprived
the small social triumphs of all their value.

Through them Joe had attained his position,
but when it was won the steps to it were an
offence to Edith. She began to feel that Mr.
Braithwaite was imposed upon in such matters.
She ignored the fact that his social standing
had been obtained through his gracious wil
lingness to oblige, his fine tact and taste, his
handsome appearance and good manners. It
became the habit of her mind to consider the
real source of Joe s honor was that he was the
nominal lord of Bradley Manor. She pre
ferred to think Joe drew all from her love,
rather than from the approbation of Sir
Thomas Wilson or Lady Charlton.

For some weeks Joe had perceived her dis
satisfaction. Lady Charlton s notes were
tossed aside with contempt, and when the


baron called for Joe s opinion or Joe s com
pany she did not, as at first, array herself
splendidly and charm the nobleman with her
delicate hospitality and gracious kindness.
But in the middle of the winter festivities she
spoke to Joe very plainly on the subject. They
were sitting at breakfast, and he handed her
a note from Charlton Castle. Sir William was
going to dine at the Coursing Club, and of
course the dinner would be incomplete without
Mr. Braithwaite, and Lady Charlton besought
his advice in reference to the ball which was to
close the entertainment, etc. There was also a
very charming note to Edith, but this morning
it was received with even more than her late

"You will go, Edith?"

" No, I shall not go. They simply ask me
in order to secure your services. Lady Charl
ton was barely civil to me at their last dinner

" Really, Edith, I thought it was you who
were barely civil."

" Joe, let us understand each other on this
subject. I think you have been an unpaid
steward for every one s entertainments quite


long -enough. If our acceptance in county
society depends upon your being a kind of
lackey to Lady Wilson and Lady Charlton, I
think we had better retire from so humiliating
a position."

" Certainly, if that is the way you look at it,
retire at once. But I want you to know,
Edith, that nothing could induce me to lackey
any lady in the sense you seem to infer."

His cup was in his hand ; he set it down
with a little temper, and rose from the table,
though the meal was not finished. Edith
glanced into his white, angry face, and then
added in her most deliberate way: " There is
great need of our economizing. There are t\vo
leases out, and Perkins says the farms will have
to be re-let for a much smaller sum. The
stables require at least 100 spent upon them,
and all the fencing on Croftlands needs paint
ing, as you have probably noticed."
" I have not noticed Croftlands at all."
"You might have done so, I think."
"But why? It is not my place. You pay
Perkins to use his eyes."

" You could use yours also ; the best paid
service will bear looking after."


" Edith, if I am not able to manage your
property I will not be a spy upon a man whom
you affect to trust. If I were in Perkins s
place, would you set Perkins to look after my
work? But it is not Perkins, but Lady Charl-
ton, that I am interested in at present. Will
you go to Charlton on the i8th or not?"

" Since you put it in that form, I say most
decidedly I shall not go."

" Then, of course, I also shall refuse."

"Your refusal can be no real loss to you.
Chasing a poor trembling hare to its death, or
making a complimentary speech at a dinner, or
even ordering a cotillon, are very poor pleas
ures, I should think, when they become a kind
of steady business."

" You never spoke any truer words, Edith,"
and he walked to the window and looked
gloomily into the white park, with its sombre
beauty of leafless trees and unbroken snow.
Will it be believed that he was remembering
at that moment, with a genuine regret, the
great mill at Market Bevin, and longing for
the stir of its traffic and the stimulating tumult
of its looms and hands?

"Chasing a hare, making a speech, ordering a


cotillon," the words left an echo in his ear and
in his heart which would not die. He felt a
shame that stung him like a whip, and he
wanted to bear it in solitude.

" I am going to drive over to Leeds," he
said. " Is there any thing I can do for you ? "

" What are you going to Leeds for ? "

" I want to go. I really have no other

" You want to see that old woman who lives

" If you mean Aunt Martha, I suppose I do
want to see her. I have not called upon her
since Christmas."

" Then you need do nothing for me. I shall
not mix my affairs up with her in any way.
By all means make her paramount."

It was not a very pleasant concession to his
desire, but that morning Joe did not mind it
much. A sudden disgust for his aimless, use
less life had fallen upon him. When he found
himself in Martha Thrale s home the feeling
deepened. Her house was full of boarders.
The comfort of a great many people was in
busy hands. But she was very cheerful amid
her pleasant cares, and quite proud of the


handsome profit she was making. Perhaps
her life interests were not great, but they
sufficed her, and she really looked happier than
the fortunate bridegroom of twelve months

She spread Joe a little lunch, and then sat
watching him as he trifled with his knife and
fork. " Why, Joe, thou doesn t eat. What s
t matter wi thee ? And thou doesn t look
well. Try and eat a bit, my lad."

" I am not hungry, Aunt Martha ; and I m a
bit worried beside."

" Now then, Joe, if t worry is about Edith
Braithwaite don t tell me. I hevn t a word to
say between a man and his wife."

" It is not about Edith. It is about work."

" Work ! Now thou caps me ! Whativer hes
thou to do ? "

" That is the trouble. I have nothing to do.
I am wearied to death for want of work.
Going to hunts and dinners and balls isn t
work. I don t know how men manage to
spend all their seventy-five years amusing them

" Ay, lad ; and at t end they ll hev to ac
count for t time. God isn t g-oinsr to take this


for a good bill o reckoning, Item : spent
upon my awn pleasures a my life long.

" I am tired of living for amusement, Aunt
Martha; I am ashamed of it."

" Well, then, it is t best news I hev heard
o* thee for a long time. What is ta going to
do? Thinking isn t much use. What is ta going
to do?"

" I do not know."

" Then try and find out. Isn t thy awn busi
ness good enough for thee ? "

" I spoke once about it, but Edith will not
hear tell of such a thing. I should have to
begin in Leeds again ; there is no nearer place.
I did not succeed before, what hope is there
for me now ? Every one would say, his own
wife does not trust him with her affairs, how
can we trust him? "

"Isn t ta going to manage Bradley Manor
next year? "

" I shall not ask for it ; and Perkins has
succeeded in making Edith believe it will be
ruin for any one but himself to manage it.
You see, Perkins s father had it in his hands
before Bradley bought the place. And Edith
dreads change. If Bradley were in my care, I


should have a hard time, I think. She would
be fearful of all I did, and perhaps going
quietly to Perkins for advice. You can see
how it would be likely to make trouble between
us. That is the reason I do not urge my right
to control it. Edith has a very poor opinion
of my business ability ; perhaps she is right,
aunt. I am a bit of a failure, so far, I think."

" Thou art nowt of t sort. Thou hes been
in t wrong road, and doing t wrong work,
and nobody can mak wrong come out
right. Thou hesn t either t head or t heart
fit for one. Can ta talk out o both sides o thy
mouth like Tom Halifax can ? Can ta bam
boozle folk as Perkins can, till they arn t
sure whether they can add two and two
together unless he shows em t way to do it?"

" Very well ; if I am not a lawyer, what
am I?"

" I suppose thou art what folks call a gentle
man at present. But I don t think that is what
thou hes a taste for. Thou wer meant to be a
man, and do a man s work. Thy brains are
spinning brains, and thy hands are spinning
hands, and thousud be in Bevin Mill thisvarry
minute. Why-a ! when thou was but ten years


old thou tried to mak a loom, and as for dyeing
yarns, thou kept me in a mortal fright wi thy
experiments when ta was learning chemistry."

" Yet you wanted me to be a preacher ? "

" Ay, but that s a different thing. Each man
hes a talent for one special kind o handy
work ; but ivery man ought to hev a talent for
serving God."

"And when I said I would not go to the
mill, you said I was right, and stood by me."

" For sure I did ; and I m not t first woman
that iver set her temper above her reason. I
sud hev hed sense enough to put things on
their right footing. I sud hev reasoned t
matter out like this : Amos Braithwaite is
aggravatingly masterful, and Joe is going
against him just because he is determined to
show he ll hev some o his awn way. Going to
t mill was t biggest thing thou could cross thy
father in, and young men of twenty-two like to
feel their liberty to mak or mar their life as it
pleases them. And I wer a bit tired mysen
o thy father s hectoring, and whenta said thou
wouldn t go to t mill, I wer bound to stand by
thee, right or wrong."

" But you thought I was right? "


" Sometimes I thought thou was right,
sometimes I feared thou was wrong. And a
few months ago I met Tony Warps and John
Thomas Mason, thy old companions, and they
told me that thou hed allays said to them thou
wert going into Bevin Mill ; and they reck
oned it took t breath from them with surprise
when they heard o thee taking up with t law
business. So ta sees I hev been putting this
and that together, and I hev come^ to t con-
elusion that t law wer just a suggestion of t
devil s that night when thee and thy father
were quarreling."

" Well, it is past remedy now."

" I don t think so at all. At t last end a
man can allays go in for politics and Par
liament. I sud think law and politics would
be ringer and thumb. But I ll tell thee what,
Joe, thou isn t made for running wi dogs, nor
dawdling after ladies, no, nor even for carrying
Mrs. Braithwaite s purse, and looking after her
fences. Thou hes thy awn work to do. And
now that thou art sick o playing t fine gentle
man, I think thou will do it."

" If I only knew what my work was ! "

" Look about thee. Don t tak t first


thought that comes into thy head. First
thoughts are mostly foolish ones. If thy tem
per would hev let thee hold thy tongue that
night thou said thou would be a lawyer thy
second thought wouldn t hev made a fool of

" But everyday is of importance to me now."

" Ay, thou art right in a general way. Every
day is a little life, my lad. Old Jacob num
bered his life by days, and Moses asked God to
teach him t same kind of arithmetic, to num
ber, not his years, but his days. Joe, thou will
do well yet. I hev heart trust in thee. But
don t thee forget among bigger things to eat
thy meat and tak thy sleep. Grandest plans
that were iver made hang a good deal on eating
and sleeping. Thou hasn t eat any thing worth
speaking of."

" I was not hungry, Aunt Martha ; and I
sleep well enough. I am not one to let day s
worry drive away night s sleep."

" Thou would be a fool if ta did. Any man
lives miserable that lies down at night like a
camel under his burden. Is ta going? Well,
God bless thee ! And after all, Joe, t varry


best advice I hev for thee is, Commit thy way
unto the Lord, and if He directs thy path,
then, my dear lad, thou will be well provided
for both worldSc"



itfow let us thank the Eternal power,

That oft the cloud which wraps the present hour

Serves but to brighten all our future days.

/appy are they that hear their own detractions and can put
them to mending. SHAKSPEARE.

IF the conception of all good resolutions
met with no hindrances, but progressed
steadily towards their realization, how broad
and easy would be the path of progress. But
the rule seems to be a persistent set of all
unfavorable elements against any effort whose
goal is a loftier ideal. In the first place Joe s
aspirations were yet vague and unformed.
Only one point was determinate in his mind
his independence.

He foresaw, even thus early, that if he con
tinued a passive sharer of Edith s wealth she)
would learn to regard him with something very
like contempt. He did not blame her much.


He felt that in their case the natural order of
reliance had been reversed. When they were
lovers this condition had been invested with
a certain glamour. Edith was then in a royal
mood. All that she had was too little for
Joe s deserts; besides, for there is generally a
weak spot in our grandest resignations, she did
not think it likely that Joe s father would be
long at variance with his only child. And she
had heard of the wealth of Amos Braithwaite.
At the end, she felt assured, she would have
done very well for herself.

The attitude Amos took at their marriage
was a disappointment to her ; but in the honey
moon days it was a circumstance to be treated
lightly, and even hopefully. She still expected
some wonder of forgiveness and generosity
from her husband s father. She thought any
reasonable man would look over the offence of
a son who had brought him so desirable a

But as week after week went by, her feeling
toward Amos became an actively angry one.
She considered herself insulted by his attitude.
She began to fear that the threat of Joe s dis
inheritance was one the old man meant to>


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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrMaster of his fate → online text (page 5 of 13)