Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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carry out. And whenever she had any small
losses, or was fretted about money matters, she
made little speeches of spite and disappoint
ment about him.

Joe would not listen to them. In spite of
their foolish quarrel, he had a strong affection
for his father. Also, he looked at the quarrel
from a man s standpoint. Women threaten
the greatest extremities, and forget every
threat in the concession they want. But Joe
expected his father to do precisely as he had
declared he would do. He would have been
quite as much astonished as pleased if Amos
had " backed out " of the position he had taken.
And Edith had frequently been told so, only
a woman s desire is her conviction. So, in
spite of Joe s assurances, she persisted in be
lieving that the dispute between father and son
was a passing affair. She urged him to try
and meet his father, to give him an opportunity
to see and to speak to him.

"You could pass him between here and
Leeds any market day, and you ought to try
to do so, Joe," she urged. " I am sure all that
is needed for a reconciliation is an interview."

"I don t think so. Edith. If I happened to


meet father when he was in a certain temper,
he would pass me without a look ; and if
he did it once, he would never retreat from
that attitude. I don t want to bring things to
such a plight between us. It is better not to
force events. And I could not deceive fatner.
He would know it was not an accidental
meeting, and if he spoke at all it would
probably be to ask me what I was dogging him
round for."

" He must be a brute."

" No, he is not a brute. He is a stubborn
man who thinks a deal of his word. He would
stand to it though it meant ruin to him.
There are plenty of men like him. I don t
know but in his place I should do the same.
And it s a capital thing to feel certain where
you have a man, even though he is dead set
against you."

The tendency of such conversations was to
gradually increase the plainness and the tem
per of their remarks ; and Joe felt all the bit
terness of a wrangle which touched lives so
close to him, and which, unfortunately, seemed
to spring from his peculiar attitude to both.

Yet his situation was so fenced in by social


bonds and obligations, by uncertainties of vari
ous kinds, by restricted outlets, and want of
ready money, that the way into life s larger
lists was hard to find.

The summer months passed away, and he
could do nothing. Edith was in ill-health ;
she went to Moffat and Matlock, and she would
go nowhere without Joe. But even amid the
idlers and pleasure-seekers around him, a steady
purpose was hourly growing in the young hus
band s heart. Vague as the first sprouts of
some unknown plant it might be ; but there
was life in it, and the intent of perfect growth.

In his position the avenues leading to inde
pendence were not very many ; but the most
impracticable of them found a calm, favorable
welcome in Joe s consciousness. There was,
as Martha Thrale had suggested, politics. He
could, doubtless, make a good run for Parlia
ment, but even in that effort he would be be
tween the horns of a dilemma. Edith was an
intense Conservative. Amos was an intense
Radical. He could not employ his wife s
money against her own party and prejudices.
And, though Perkins made him understand
that money would be forthcoming if he took


the Radical side, Joe did not like the idea of
an election quarrel on his own hearthstone.

He thought of a commission in the army.
He thought of borrowing money and building
a mill. He thought, in a furtive and frightened
way, of California, Australia, Canada, India.
Edith would have been shocked if she could
have divined what sombre speculations made
her husband so quiet among the crowds at
Moffat or in his own rooms at Bradley.

The next winter was a wretchedly dull one
to him. He had withdrawn from the hunts
and clubs and dinner parties of the previous
season. Edith had counted up their cost with
ugly knittings of her black, handsome brows,
and Joe had no mind for festivities which she
would neither share nor approve, and which
were likely to be preceded and followed by
domestic disputes.

But as Nature sets herself instantly to repair
any wounded part of the body, so some higher
Power, if we would but notice it, speedily turns
our mistakes this side and that side, until good
can be wrought from some of their phases.
The days were interminable to Joe, so he took
to study. Chemistry had always fascinated

1 2 o MA i" TER OF HIS FA l L .

him ; he fitted up a small laboratory, and soon
forgot every thing in the charm of his experi
ments and hoped-for discoveries. It is true,
they were usually futile and disappointing, as
well as expensive, but hope sprang from every
failure, and Edith had sense enough to under
stand that these things were far more economi
cal than many other sources of recreation open
to bored and weary men.

As for herself, she felt no ennui. Independent
of the charge which she shared with Perkins,
she had her house an 1 her conservatory, her
toilet and her visitors, her embroidery and her
stated charities, besides a very large family of
pet animals and birds. Her days were too
short for all the small cares that filled them.
And these she would gladly have shared with
Joe, but to him they were insignificant and un
interesting. How could a man on the verge of
discovering a new color feel an ardent pleasure
in the curls of a pup or the right shades of
green for a worsted parrot ?

The early part of the third year of their mar
riage was brightened by an event which for a
time merged all interests in itself. Edith had
a son, and it seemed as if the whole neighbor-


hood was delighted to rejoice with Bradley
Court. The young mother and the beautiful
boy enjoyed for a few weeks a prominence very
pleasant to Edith, and for the time she con
sidered herself an exceptionally happy woman.

But however proud and fond Joe was of his
firstborn son, the babe could not fill his life in
the same way as it filled the mother s life. Its
advent had softened his heart, and made him
think a great deal of his own father, but in a
few weeks he went back with a fresh delight to
his books and retorts. Even for the child s
sake he did not wish to be a mere idler and
looker-on among the world s workers.

Fully to his own heart, and partly to Martha
Thrale, he had admitted the mistake made upon
that unhappy night when he flung away his
father s love and his fine inheritance for the
gratification of his personal pride and selfwill.
But the fit of inaction and despair which usually
follows such awakenings was a short one in
Joe s case. He was not disposed to look upon
his mistake as an irrevocable one. He had
been twice on the verge of a discovery which
promised him at least the foundation of a for
tune ; and he was one of those men who can


dog after an idea with a patience that is al
most genius.

Joe was gradually working his way towards
that stile which Providence intended him to
cross, but he had every step of the intervening
road to take, the hard and the easy, the hope
ful and the despairing. Now and then there
were days in which Edith expressed a little in
terest in his studies and efforts, and then he
was full of enthusiasm ; but more often she
was scornful at his failures or fretted by their
waste and inutility.

The neighbors with whom Joe had been
such a favorite talked over the change in him
with a tolerant contempt. Some divined the
truth, and thought him wise to retire from a
position only to be retained by his wife s con
cession. Others attributed his strange taste to
the inherited vulgarity of his descent. " He is
a born tradesman, with mechanical aptitudes,"
they said. " He has gone naturally to the
dyeing vats, and will eventually go back to the
looms." The air and tone of the remark was a
compliment to their own superior tastes, and
in the feeling of self-satisfaction it induced
they rather pitied Joe, especially as their wives


were inclined to say those disagreeable things
of Mrs. Joe which naturally engage the sym
pathies of more fortunate husbands.

One morning, when the child was four
months old, Edith said, " The bishop is to be
here in a month ; suppose we christen baby at
this visitation."

<; I think it would be a very good thing to
do. The little chap ought to be made a Chris
tian as soon as possible."

" I shall send to London for a robe for him.
And we must have a dinner to honor the event.
About the name now."

" Yes ; about the name."

" I think he ought to be called after my

" Why so ?"

" Well, he will be heir to all father made."

" I hope I may also make something for

" Out of jars and retorts ? "

" Don t be scornful, Edith. Many a retort
has left a fine residuum of gold at the bottom."

" I say he ought to be called Luke."

" I would rather you chose any other name."



11 A man who bore that name did my father
a great many wrongs. I am sure he would
regard our giving it to the child as an insult to

" Ridiculous ! Do you wish him called
Amos ? "

" It might be a good thing to call him Amos,
but I will not ask such a favor as that of you.
I only stipulate not to call the boy Luke. Any
other name will do."

" I have made up my mind to call him

"I am sorry to disappoint you, Edith, but I
will not allow my son to bear that name."

He spoke with a decision that made Edith
look with wonder at him, and the set calmness
of his face irritated her. She reiterated her
resolve with much warmth, " I shall certainly
call him Luke."

" Then I shall certainly contradict, even at
the altar, any godfather who gives him that
name. I hope you will spare yourself, and me,
such a scene in church ; and also consider what
an unpleasant event it would be to remember
against the child."

" You durst not do such a thing."


" Do not trust to that opinion, Edith. I
solemnly assure you that I will contradict the
sponsor, whoever he may be, that calls my son

" If he is not to be called Luke v I will not
have him christened at all."

" As you please. There are scores of good
English names. Why need you select the only
one that will give pain and offence ? "

" Luke was my dear dead father s name."

" By calling our son Luke you can not please
his dead grandfather, and you will surely trou
ble and anger his living grandfather. Choose
any other name and I will agree to it."

" He shall be Luke, christened or unchris-

" He shall at least not be christened Luke.
That I can and will prevent."

Then he turned to his books, and Edith left
the room with a determination to carry her
point. But a little reflection convinced her
that Joe in this case was not to be trifled with.
She had seen him in the same mood several
times, and she had never known him to recede
a letter from the text of his threat. She did
not wish to bring their private quarrel to an


issue before the clergy and the congregation,
so the christening of the child was indefinitely
put off.

But this dispute saddened Joe beyond all
former ones. It was evident to him that the
mistake made in his life had the power to pro
ject itself throughout it, and blight all his
sweetest and most personal joys. He suddenly
felt an invincible distaste for his study and his
work. He saw that there was no redeeming
power i.n it.

For three weeks he was very miserable mis
erable because he felt so hopeless. And three
weeks looks a dreary time to a soul without
hope or purpose, though he who shapes the
destinies of men for eternity makes these pain
ful pauses in life no longer, doubtless, than is
absolutely necessary to enable the dead hopes
to bury their dead, and animate the living ones
to some newer and better purpose.

At any rate, at the end of three weeks a re
action came. He was sitting in his laboratory,
but he was not working. He had not kindled
a light for many days. He was telling himself
that he was still stumbling on a wrong road.
"At the best I have but blundered upon a few


facts that are useless without their connecting
links ; well, then, Joe Braithwaite, try again !
You must go back to your father, sir, rather
than be beat."

When he had reached this resolution Edith
entered. She had an open letter in her hand,
and she looked so handsome and had such a
grand way with her that Joe could not help
noticing and admiring her beauty. " How much
I could have loved her," he thought, " if I had
been the owner of Bradley Manor, and she had
had nothing but her love and her beauty to
give me."

Her first words, however, had in them that
unfortunate pleasantry which always irritated

" I am come as a client, Mr. Braithwaite, if
you have not forgotten your law, and have time
to attend to my case."

" Don t chaff me, Edith. You know I have
plenty of time. I have nothing else but time.
Sit down. I shall be glad if I can do you any
real service."

They sat down together with a dreary polite
ness. Edith thought she had been snubbed.
Joe had an equally unpleasant feeling. Then


Edith touched the letter, and said, " It is from
Sykes, of Manchester. He offers to buy the
house I own there. He says he will give me
;io,ooo for it. What do you think of the

"If the house is worth 10,000 to him, it is
very probably worth more to you. Have you
asked Perkins ? "

" Perkins is in London. Sykes urges an im
mediate answer. Will you go to Manchester
and see about it ? I don t like trading with
Sykes at a distance. When he is on the spot,
he has us at an unfair disadvantage."

" Yes, I will go, if you wish it."

"You will get all the papers relating to the
property at Perkins s office ; and if you want
any advice "

" I don t want any advice. I know my busi
ness as well as most lawyers do."

" Of course. Then you will go to-morrow
morning ? "

" I will get the papers, and leave for Man
chester to-morrow morning."



Fate was not mine, nor am I Fate s :
Souls know no conquerors. DRYDEN.

Money, being the common scale
Of things by measure, weight, and tale,
In all the affairs of Church and State,
Is both the balance and the weight.


SO Joe rode over to Market-Bevin and pro
cured the papers relating to the Manches
ter property. He lingered a little in the familiar
streets of the place, and looked with interest
and with some vague regrets at the old Hall
where he had certainly spent more than twenty
very happy years. With still more interest he
passed the mill that might have been his own.
Its massive masonry trembled with the titanic
labors of steam and machinery. From hun
dreds of open windows came the hum m of
the wheels, and the great chimney seemed to


be consciously proud of its height, and of the
volumes of smoke it cast out into the blue

The ponderous gates were shut. No visitors,
no idlers, no curious people, were wanted in
Bevin Mill. Business only procured an admis
sion there, and Joe had no business now with
its master. And yet he longed to see him.
He took the road past Bevin Mill twice, though
it was a little out of his way ; but the tightly
shut gates depressed him ; they seemed to
typify the inflexibility of his father s angry

And as he rode home through the lonely
lanes a purpose that had often drifted through
his mind assumed a positive form. He began
to consider it as practicable ; he decided to
follow it out. But the decision was an im
portant one, and its very consideration impart
ed a solemn and resolute air to his face and

Suddenly, as he turned into the high road, he
met his father. Amos was in his gig. He was
reconsidering a bargain he had made, and was
oblivious to such an unimportant matter as his
horse s speed ; so the animal was placidly jog-


ging along at the pace most comfortable to him
self. It was one which gave Amos no excuse
for passing his son, and perhaps he did not wish
to pass him, for when Joe said, "Why, father!
How are you ? This is a bit of luck to meet
you! "the old man s face brightened, and he
answered, " I m well enough, Joe. How art
thou getting along?"

" Very well, father."

" I daresay. And how is my daughter-in-
law? She doesn t think much o me, eh? And
I hear thou hes a son o thy awn. Mebbe now
thou will come to find out that fathers hev
some feelings. Whativer brought thee this
road ? "

" I was at Market-Bevin. I passed the mill
twice in hopes of seeing you."

" Nay, then, I don t stand at t gates watch
ing folks pass. Was ta at Perkins s?"

"Yes. I went to his office for some papers
about a bit of property in Manchester. I am
going there to-morrow to sell it, if the price
offered be a fair one."

" My word, Joe ! I wish to goodness owd
Luke Bradley knew thou wer buying and selling
t property he scraffled and scraped for. I think


it would be a punishment as would pay for a
few of his meannesses. Well, my lad, good
night to thee ! Say, Joe, what is ta goin to
call thy son? I ll bet thee a shilling Mrs. Joe
will be givin him her father s name."

" I d let him go without a name at all before
I d have him called Luke."

" Thet s right, Joe ! Thet s as it should be.
I was a bit bothered at the thought of a Luke
Bradley Braithwaite. It doesn t sound right,
does it ? And I kept thinking to mysen, if
Joe tacks a rascal s name before Braithwaite, it
will be a shabby thing to do. "

"Joe wouldn t do it, father; n^c for all the
money Bradley left. If I had my way I would
call him Amos. He s a fine little fellow, and
he wouldn t be any thing but an honor to the
best name going."

" Would ta really call him Amos ? Well now,
Amos is a varry good name. I niver heard tell
of any blackguard called Amos, and happen it
might be a good thing for t little chap, happen
it might. I must hurry a bit now, Joe. Good
night to thee."

" Shake hands, father, do ! "

" Why-a! I hev no objections. I m none o


them unreasonable fathers that can t see good
as well as bad in a son. Thou vexed me in
one thing, and thou hes pleased me middlin
well in another. I sail strike a just balance
between thee and me, Joe."

Then he leaned forward and grasped Joe s
hand, and if the young fellow had only thought
to bend down his handsome head, doubtless
Amos would have done involuntarily as the
tender Judean father embraced and kissed
him. But neither of the men were naturally
demonstrative, and both were slightly embar
rassed even by the advance made. So they
parted quickly, and with less warmth of manner
than might have been expected ; but the
warmth was at their hearts, and Amos found
himself humming the only song he knew when
he stopped at the mill gates.

The next morning Joe left for Manchester.
Edith had really intended to make the trip a
pleasure to her husband, and send him off
under cheerful auspices. But women with
nursing babies cannot be sure of their moods
early in the morning. The child had been
restless all night. She could not trust the
nurse, and she lost her own sleep. In conse-


quence, she had a headache and was fretful and
nervous and quite unable to command the
smiles and pleasant words she had intended to

But Joe was hardly conscious of her silence
and her irresponsive way. Perhaps he ought
to have been ; ought to have understood her
languor, and the evident marks of suffering on
her face. A word of sympathy might have
brought sunshine and exchange of courtesies
and confidences. But Joe had many things on
his mind, and Edith s lassitude and reticence in
the morning were familiar conditions to

" Good-bye, dear Edith." He took her
hands and kissed her with a tenderness which
touched the weary woman. At the last moment
she made an effort to be sweet and loving, but
a leaden weight was on every emotion ; and
she took his farewell with a passive apathy
which very little expressed her real affection.
For she was in the power of a contradictious
listlessness, the result of a physical condition
she was hardly to be blamed for. And oh !
how many a household quarrel, miserable in its
results, arises from causes as really unoffending


in intent and as little within the control of
women who are physically exhausted.

At the door Joe suddenly turned and asked
for his son. Under a hurried protest the
child was brought sleeping. He kissed and
laid him in his mother s arms, and Edith saw
there were tears in his father s eyes as he turned
away. She was dimly troubled by the circum
stance. Joe was only going on a short journey ;
he would return in a few days. She had not
understood before that he cared so much for
the child.

For the first hour or two, Joe enjoyed the
simple sense of perfect freedom. He was
alone. He was not afraid of offending, either
by omitting to do something he should have
done, or by doing something which he ought
not to have done. The air was fresh and
exhilarating, the sense of motion and of change
delightful. He enjoyed these things with the
healthy physical enjoyment natural to a young
and perfectly healthy man. But, ere long, he
withdrew himself from mere outside influences ;
his eyes became thoughtful, his mouth settled
into firm, definite curves, there was an air of


purpose and resolution, in every movement he

Arriving at Manchester, he first of all devoted
his attention to his wife s interests. After their
satisfactory settlement Joe had business of his
own to attend to. It took him to Spinning-
Jenny street, a locality full of warehouses. In
a few minutes he stood opposite the largest
one. It bore the sign of Samuel Yorke and Sons.
There was a link between himself and that
warehouse ; one, as yet, uncertain and untried,
but he intended to test its strength.

Samuel Yorke was his godfather. The rela
tionship had indeed been merely a nominal
one, filled by proxy, and acknowledged only by
handsome presents of baby plate and jewelry ;
but it was connected with memories stretching
much further back. For Amos Braithwaite
and Samuel Yorke had been close companions
in those days when both boys sold papers in
Bradford Market ; and Joe knew that in every
great event touching either of their lives, letters
of sympathy passed between Bevin Hall and

He had never seen his godfather, and he
knew nothing of his character ; but he looked


at the sign above the door, and felt his fears
fade and his hopes rise. For its very reten
tion there argued a true and tender heart, since
the firm was no longer " Samuel Yorke and
Sons." Eight years previous, about the time
Joe and his father separated, Samuel Yorke s
two sons were killed with their mother, in a
railway accident. Eight years ! and yet the
father had not brought himself to remove the
sign put up with such happy anticipations just
before their untimely end. At that time Amos
had written to his friend, and told him to
be thankful that he hadn t a living sorrow
instead of a dead one. " Thy two sons," he
said, " followed thee in all things, and were
proud to put their names with thine, but I
have a lad, disobedient and wilful, who has
disappointed every hope I have had for twenty

After looking at the sign a few moments,
Joe pushed aside the door and found himself
in a long room full of tables piled high with
printed calicoes. It was a dusty, dusky place
with an oily smell ; and, in spite of the number
of clerks and salesmen, exceedingly quiet. He
asked for Mr. Yorke, and was directed to an


inner room whose door he opened. When he
did so, Yorke stood facing him.

He was a small, thin man in shabby clothing,
with an old hat pushed backward from his
forehead. But there was an unmistakable look
of master and millionaire about him. He was
standing at a table on which lay freshly-opened
letters, most of them containing samples of
cotton ; and as he pulled the snowy fibre
slowly through his fingers he was softly singing
a Methodist hymn. He looked up with a bit
of long staple in his hand, when Joe entered,
and stopped at the end of the line :

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrMaster of his fate → online text (page 6 of 13)