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Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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There is a land of pure delight,

and looked curiously at Joe. He knew him
ere Joe had time to introduce himself, and said :
" Why ! Thou must be Amos Braithwaite s
son. Downsitting and uprising, thou are thy
father s varry likeness."

"Yes, sir; I am Joe Braithwaite."
" For sure, and my godson. I m glad to see
thee; sit tha down. Whativer lias brought thee
to Spinning-Jenny street ? There s no wool
here for you West Riding men ; it is a this
stuff, lad," and he gathered the samples of
cotton, with a swift movement, together, look-



JOE S FORTHPUT. 139

ing almost lovingly at the " stuff " as he did so.

" Well, godfather, I didn t come to buy either
cotton or wool. I came to sell a bit of prop
erty that belonged to my wife."

"To be sure ! Thou married Luke Bradley s
daughter. I heard a about it ; a rich lass. I
knew Bradley varry well, too well, happen ; he
was a hard man. He had property all over.
Whativer did he awn in Manchester ? "

"The house next the Queen s Hotel. Sykes
was the agent for it. You know Sykes ? "

" I sud think I do."

" He wrote and offered us .10,000 for it."

" Too little, far too little."

" Yes ; I sold it to the proprietor of the hotel
for 22,000."

" That s far more like t proper figure. But
Sykes willallus feel as if thou had cheated him
out of 12,000. He s that kind, is Sykes. Well
Joe, thou must stay wi me to-night. I want
to hev a long talk wi thee."

" Eh, but I want to stay with you much
longer than to-night ? "

" Well, tha s welcome in reason, ta knows.
But whativer is ta going to stay F Manchester
for?"



140 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

" I want to apprentice myself to you. I want
to learn your business from A to Z."

" Thou tak s my breath. I thought thou wer
a lawyer, learned and licensed ? "

" I am a very poor lawyer, and I never shall
be any better one. I took to the law out of
pure contradiction, and I never made 100
by it. I want to be a cotton spinner."

" Why not go to thy father and learn to be a
wool spinner? One kind is as good as t other.
And thou would be near Bradley and thy
wife and child. What does it a mean,
Joe ? "

" I will tell you if you care to hear."

"To be sure I do ; only, I ll hev no half con
fidences. Tell me iverything or tell me noth
ing, t bad as well as t good."

Joe was only too thankful to have some sen
sible kind man to open his heart to. He did
not spare himself in any respect. Yorke
listened patiently, watching the young man s
mobile, expressive face with a good deal of in
terest, but never interrupting his confession.
W T hen Joe had finished, he said, "Thou hes
gone wrong iver since thou left thy father.
That was thy first wrong step."



JOE S FORTHPUT. 141

" It was not all my fault. Father is so
masterful."

"Well, then, he is master. And it was thy
fault. Honor thy father. That is t com
mandment, as I read it. Men s laws have so
many provisions and amendments and what
nots that they need a lawyer to mak head or
tail of them. God s laws are, do this and don t
do that. A man, though a fool, can understand
them. " It is honor thy father. That is
plain enough."

" But if a father is wrong, or "

"It is honor thy father ; good, bad, or
indifferent. There are no ifs in that com
mand."

"A father may be tyrannical, unreasonable,
unkind, unjust

" For sure, I reckon t Almighty knew there
would be them kind o fathers ; and he didn t
make any exceptions. But I say that thy father
is none o them. Go to him, and ask him to
tak thee prentice."

" It would be no use. He told me I should
never have part nor lot in Bevin Mill, and
when father says a thing in the way he did
then"



I4 2 MASTJSS DF HIS FATE.

" 1 knoiv ; he ll be as stubborn as if stub.
bornncss were his religion."

" As to my wife

" As to thy wife, I don t blame her. Women
talk a deal about love, and lots of feelings with
varry fine names, but I tak notice that they
think the most of t man that can mak money.
It is varry well for a rich man to marry a poor
girl, and give her iverything he hes ; that s
natural, and she tak s iraturally to it ; but when
a rich woman marries a poor man, that s a varry
different thing. And, putting this and that to-
gether, Mrs. Braithwaite hasn t done so badly, I
think. As soon as ta gets to making money
she ll be a model wife, I sud think."

" I do not like to associate my wife with such
opinions. Why should she think more of me
if I were making money?

" Because money is only t visible result of a
great many qualities women like men to hev,
pluck, patience, good sense, good manners, in
dustry, and what not. I ll tell thee what, Joe,
when ta sees a man that is a first-rate money
maker, ta sees a man that is capable o doing
lots of other things, better than most men can.
I wouldn t be proud of heving made money if



JOE S FORTHPUT. 143

I didn t think so. And when a woman sets her
heart on a man that can mak money she s
more likely to be right than wrong."

" Very likely ; we won t mind that now. Can
I stay with you, and learn how to make money?"

" Listen now. If I tak thee thou wilt hev to
do my way, and not thy awn. I ll hev no fine
gentleman prentice. If ta wants to mak thy
living \vi clean hands, don t thee come to me.
I am at business ivery morning at eight, and I
stay till five."

" Your hours shall be mine, I promise."

11 Thou must learn a about spinning and
weaving ; a about dyes and dyeing ; and thou
must tak thy share o t work in t printing
room. It is a hard business. Thou wilt be
dirty, and hot, and tired most of thy time, and
I ll not engage to tak thee for less than two
years. Even if ta hes ivery advantage it will be
that long anyway."

" I will agree to all you desire."

" And thou will hev to live with me."

"With you?"

" For sure. If I tak charge o thee, I ll hev
thee under my awn roof, and my awn eyes."

This was more than Joe had contemplated.



144 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

Among the compensations he had promised
himself was the lonely freedom of evenings
devoted to his own will and way. Yorke saw
the momentary hesitation, and explained :
" That will suit thee, Joe, and thou wilt soon
find out how well, for if thou art as tired as
thou ought to be, thou will want no ither thing
but thy bed. And if I ask thee to go to t
chapel with me on a Sunday, I think in a little
while thou will like to go well enough. My
own dear lads thought it no hardship ; " and he
looked at Joe with such a depth of yearning,
sorrowful remembrance in his eyes, that Joe s
heart was sincerely touched.

" It was a great sorrow, wife and sons in one
hour," he said softly. " I wonder it did not
break your heart."

" Nay, nay ! Hearts tak a deal o breaking
thet hev their trust in God Almighty. Now,
then, tell me where ta bides, and go write thy
letters and pack thy valise ! "

" I am at the Queen s Hotel."

" Get thee ready, then. I ll call for thee soon
after five o clock. And I m sure thou wilt do
more than well. I can see thou hes plenty o
forthput in thee."



CHAPTER X.
EDITH S HARD BLOW.

Not even the tenderest heart, and next our own,
Knows half the reason why we smile and sigh.

Those who inflict must suffer, for they see
The work of their own hearts, and that must be
Their chastisement.

IN the meantime, Edith was neither anxious
nor unhappy. She had not one of those
sensitive, looking-forward souls which feel the
shadow of coming events. Presentiments did
not visit her ; if they had, she would probably
have referred them to some physical cause.
Joe s sober, almost solemn farewell and the
mist of tears in his eyes, she understood just
as little. She was both annoyed and pleased
by the circumstance; annoyed, because she
had the common English hatred of any thing
like a scene, especially before servants, and
going to Manchester was not a thing to be



146 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

made an event of. It was not the air of good
society. At the same time she was flattered
by her husband s evident emotion at their
parting.

"He must be very tond of baby and me,"
and the thought made her quiet and silent for
a little while, and she hoped Joe would have
a pleasant time and manage the business he
had gone about in such a way as to make any
interference of Perkins in it unnecessary.

Then she turned with a busy interest to the
affairs of her household. She had determined
to make some changes, and she thought Joe s
absence a suitable opportunity. In ordering a
staff of tradesmen and servants she was in her
element ; it was wonderful how much she got
out of every one. And thus employed the
days passed rapidly away ; she had no time to
speculate and no time to be lonely.

Joe s first letter was just what she expected
it to be. It related only to his journey and to
his first impressions of the cotton metropolis
of the world. His second referred to the busi
ness he had been sent to transact. It was
short and sensible, and gave her a feeling of
respect for her emissary in the matter. The



EDITH S HARD BLOW. 14?

third letter, informing her of the sale of the
house for more than double the offered price,
was a genuine surprise. It came while she was
eating dinner and gave her pleasant food for
reflection all the evening.

Perhaps after all she had done Joe an injus
tice. Now that she saw a prospect of manag
ing without Perkins, she could afford to recall
a number of little things in which she was sure
he had overreached his proper charges. The
total of his last bill had been unusually large.
" He is meddlesome, too, and very dictatorial.
I ll pay him off, and Joe and I will manage
Bradley. It may be a happy thing to do;- at
any rate we can try, etc., etc."

Thus she mused, for there was a real senti
ment of regret in her heart, and something
more than suspicion that after all she had not
given Joe a fair chance. By word and deed
she had snubbed him. Practically she had let
Perkins snub him also. She was not well
pleased at herself, and she was quite angry at
Perkins. Poor Joe ! She intended to order
events rather differently for him in the future
and she meant also to tell him that she had
been unjust to him and that she was sorry for



I4 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

it. For though a proud, self-sufficient woman,
she was, as such characters often are, essen
tially just.

She was indeed quite eager to begin her
reparation. She expected Joe home the next
evening, and unusual preparations were made
to honor his return. The house had been
renovated, and had that festival air which new
draperies and decorations give. She ordered
an elaborate dinner, and dressed herself and
baby with tasteful splendor. For was not Joe
coming home in a kind of triumph? He had
more than bettered expectation. She wished
him to feel that he had done well, and that she
was appreciative and grateful.

As she stood before the glass tying her
bonnet-strings, she smiled over her excitement,
and the fresh color it had brought to her cheeks
and the brilliant light to her eyes. She looked
critically at her dress and laces, and changed
her ribbons for a set whose tint Joe always
admired. There was no mean withdrawing, no
keeping back part, no selfish reservation, in
Edith s submission. The reparation she in
tended to make her husband was to be as per
fect as possible. The opportunity she intended



EDITH S HARD BLOW. 149

give him was to be untrammelled by doubt of
interference.

She went to meet the Manchester train with
a heart full of kind and just thoughts. She
had no doubt of Joe s arrival, and when she
did not see him among the alighting passengers
she was so much astonished at her disappoint
ment that she could not for a few minutes
believe in it. She went home depressed, and
an unhappy feeling she could not banish
dashed the enthusiasm of all her good intent.

There was a later train, and she sent the
carriage to meet it, but this time she remained
at home. It was baby s hour, and besides the
first glow of her feelings had been chilled. Joe
had failed her. She told herself that whenever
she had made some extraordinary effort to
brighten and sweeten things between them
Joe had always failed her. She had fretted her
heart into a no-use-trying temper before the
time for the second train, and she made no
attempt to renew the pleasant anticipations
which had been so promptly disappointed.

Of course the carriage returned without Joe.
The coachman said he could not have been
mistaken. Only two gentlemen had left the



15 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

train, Sir Thomas Wilson and Mr. Selby. But
there was a letter. The postmistress had given
it to him as he passed.

She took it indifferently, and opened it
almost with a feeling of anger at Joe s unneces
sary delay. The contents stunned her. She
turned sick, and her heart beat as if every throb
was its last effort. But there were servants
present, and she would not betray herself before
them. By a supreme effort she managed to go
through the usual form of dinner.

Then she went to her bedroom and locked
the door, and sitting down spread the letter ou
before her. Word by word, following tht
words with her jewelled forefinger, she read it
through :

" MY DEAR WIFE I hope you are satisfied
with the settlement of the Manchester property.
I received the money to-day, and forward a
cheque for the amount stated in my last, de
ducting only the regular charge on the convey
ancing, etc. This money I have retained,
because I shall not be at home again for two
years. To-morrow morning I begin my appren
ticeship to Samuel Yorke, cotton spinner and
calico printer. I intend to learn the business,
in all its processes, practically. I have lived too
long upon your bounty, for I have lost your
esteem as well as my own ; and I deserve the



EDITH S HARD BLOW. 151

loss. Please God I will redeem the past, and
with His help make a man of myself. When I
am worthy of your love, worthy to be your
husband, you will respect me ; and until then,
think as kindly of me as you can. Even for
baby s sake I must try and deserve something
more than forbearance, and it is better he
should not know me at all, until I can right
fully claim it. Dear wife, if you will write
often to me, it will strengthen me for my effort,
and give me all the hope I need for the future."

Joe had not been at all satisfied with this
letter, but every effort at an explanation of his
motives and purpose seemed hopeless; for
he had been led to the step he had taken by
a complication of causes past and present. So
he finally concluded that Edith would be likely
to remember all, without his indexing events
and influences, and that the shortest letter
would be the best one. If there were any thing
to be said in his favor her own heart must
discover it in order to permanently influence
her.

But every letter has its peculiar atmosphere.
It is often quite independent of the words, and
much stronger in its influence than they are.
Plain and undemonstrative as Joe s letter was,
Edith felt that he had put his best and tender-
est self into its few lines, and she had to sum-



15 2 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

mon all the strength of her soul to the task of
reading them.

She was white as the paper on which they
were written, and she sat for a long time as
still as if she had been turned into stone.
What would her neighbors say? And all her
social equals and friends ? She would get the
blame ; women always did. How cruel it was
of Joe to place her in such a position !

These were her first thoughts, but more un
selfish ones soon followed. The very brevity
and humility of Joe s letter was a mighty elo
quence to her. Fine sentences or reproaches
would probably have failed to touch her ; they
would at least have roused her to defend her
self. Joe had not blamed her ; but her con
science did. Every hour it said harder things
to her. Joe had unconsciously struck the
noblest chord in her nature. And in taking
his destiny so calmly and resolutely out of her
power he had suddenly become her master.
Her old admiration for his beauty, his sunny
temper, and kind heart, returned with tenfold
power. She had never been as much in love
with Joe Braithwaite as she was in that hour,



EDITH S HARD BLOW. 153

when she knew that he had left her to regain
the prerogatives of his manhood.

But when the first shock passed away she
began to reason clearly. She must have advice.
She must have the moral strength of compan
ionship, and she must have some one to rely
upon and to go to in emergencies. She never
had a hope that Joe would now recede from
the position he had taken. Even if she hum
bled herself before him, and gave every thing
into his hands, it would not bring him back to
her side. She felt positive that he would stay
until the last hour to which he had pledged
himself was outrun.

Perkins was her first thought. He would
now have to retain the management of Bradley,
but between Joe and herself he should not put
a single word. She would not name her hus
band to him, or suffer him to discuss what Joe
had done in any way. Who then must she go
to? Sir Thomas Wilson had always liked Joe,
honestly liked him ; and he was in a position
to give her the protection and the advice she
needed. But he did not like her. She knew
it in spite of his smiles and suavity. Neither
did Lady Wilson Kke her, nor Lady Charlton,



154 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

nor indeed, when she began to go over the list
of her acquaintances, could she find one on
whom she could rely.

She did not sleep all night, but toward
morning she arrived at a definite plan for her
conduct. It had come to her in one of those
flashes of intelligence which visit souls earnestly
seeking their way out of darkness and difficulty ;
come with its own assurance so perfect that she
never thought of challenging it.

She would go to Joe s father!

So, early the next day, Amos Braithwaite
was amazed to see a handsome carriage drive
inside his mill gates, and a beautiful, richly-
dressed woman alight from it. He had never
seen his daughter-in-law, bu: he knew instinc
tively that it was she.

And, as suspicion was ever the first feeling
in the old man s heart, he muttered, " That s
Joe s wife, I ll be bound. Now, whativer is
she up to comin here this time of t day?"

Then he retired at once to his private office.
He was on the alert in all his senses. " He
wasn t goin to be bamboozled by any woman.
And he wasn t goin , either, to let Luke Brad-
ley s lass say a word against his Joe. If there



EDITH S HARD BLOW. 155

was sides to be taken he would stick up for his
awn side ivery time ! " And while he was thus
thinking the door opened and Edith entered.

Her stately beauty, her rich clothing, the
faint waft of some delicate perfume that came
in with her, quite subdued Amos. She looked
at him with eyes full of tears, and said, softly,
Father!"

" Eh ? Well, certainly, ma am. Thou art
Joe s wife happen ? Sit tha down."

She sat down in the big leather chair that
was the particular property of Amos, and,
covering her face with her hands, she began to
sob ; for her courage had suddenly forsaken
her, and she dreaded this old man who looked
at her so coldly and so curiously.

"Whativer is t matter wi thee, Mrs. Braith-
waite? "

" Oh ! father ! father ! Oh, Joe Joe Joe ! "

" Joe hes been up to summat wrong, and
he s sent his wife to get round me." That was
the first thought Amos had. His next one was,
" She ll be sharp as needles if she manages it."
But he made some attempt to comfort her;
and the more he tried the more Edith wept,
and the sorrier Amos felt for her.



I5 6 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

" Whativer is t matter ? " he asked. " Come
now, tell me all about it If Joe hes been un
kind to thee, I ll pay him off mysen for it ; see
if I don t."

"Joe unkind! Oh, no, father! It is I that
have been unkind."

" Oh, ta hes, hes ta ? I wouldn t hev believed
it of such a bonny woman. Whativer hes ta
been up to ? I ll be bound he is as much in t
wrong as thou art."

" No, he is not. Joe has behaved like an angel.
Joe is the noblest fellow that God ever made."

" Mebbe so, for God hes made a queer lot
even in my time. Joe might be t best of them,
and then be nothing to crack about ; for Joe is
a long way off t angels. But come now, you
hev hed a quarrel most married people do
hev quarrels what is it about ? "

Then Edith told Amos all their domestic
troubles. She had thought over things in the
night, and had come to a very clear under
standing of them. And she did not spare her
self. She confessed to all her authoritative
ways, her little meannesses, and especially her
aggravating determination not to have the baby
christened unless it was called Luke.



EDITH S HARD BLOW. 157

Amos had hard work to keep a straight face
during this acknowledgment of Edith s faults.
Over and over, he wanted to have a good
hearty laugh. It amused, it delighted him, to
think of Joe, who would not submit to his own
father, having to bow and beck to his wife.
Amos had been an autocrat in his household.
That a man should be any thing else to his
own women-folk seemed a most preposterous
state of affairs to him.

Edith s revelations affected him as a comedy
might have done. And all the time he was
complacently reflecting that this most unnat
ural condition of affairs was doubtless a judg
ment on Joe for his disobedience to him a
very fitting retribution indeed it seemed to the
disappointed and unvalued father.

But when Edith told him that Joe had gone,
that was a different thing. The quarrel was
more than a joke, more than the righteous
retribution he had been silently approving.
His first private sentiment was one of hearty
approval. Being his son, what could Joe do
but cast off all rule but self-rule? Then she
gave him Joe s letter to read, and his surprise
and satisfaction were complete.



I5 8 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

" There s summat in this lad after all ; sum.
mat more than ordinary, Mrs. Braithwaite."

" Please, father, call me Edith."

" Varry well, if ta wants it so. There s a
deal in this lad of ours, after all, Edith. I like
what he hes done. It is t most sensible thing
I iver knew him do ; except happen t marrying
o thee."

" Father, there is so much that must be done,
so much to think of, and I am not able to-day
for thought or work. Will you come and take
dinner with me to-morrow? To-morrow is
Saturday. The mill closes early on Satur
day."

" Well, I m sure I don t know ; I hev a deal
to do. Meddling between man and wife is a
bad business."

" Father, do come. I have no one but you."

"Then I ll come, Edith, and I ll study out
things a bit, and I ll give thee t varry best of
advice. I wouldn t go to Perkins wi this
bother if I was thee."

" You are the only person in the world I
would have come to about Joe, father."

" And thou will varry soon find out that ta
hesn t made any mistake in coming to me."



EDITH S HARD BLOW. 159

" What time do you like your dinner,
father?"

" I like it at four o clock."

" Is there any thing you are particularly
fond of? "

"Yes, my lass. I m fond of a roast of beef,
and a Yorkshire pudding well browned. And
if ta doesn t mind t trouble, I d like a bit of
berry pie, and some old Stilton."

" Oh, father, what a sensible man you are !
It is so comfortable to have men say just what
they want, without apologies or nonsense."

" It is t right way, and ivery woman knows
it is t right way. If Joe hed only held thee in
wi a tighter rein, both o you would hev got
on varry nicely. Bless thy heart, Edith \
women aren t happy if they hev their awn
way. It isn t natural, ta knows, and what isn t
natural comes to grief."

Then he amused and amazed his hands by
escorting her to her carriage. He walked very
proudly with the beautiful woman on his arm ;
and to see the care with which he wrapped her
rugs around her, and the courtesy with which
he lifted his hat to her in farewell, set the
whole mill in a flutter, and divided it into two



160 MASTER OF HIS FATE.

parties : one, certain that " t owd fellow wer*
going to get wedded again ; " and the other
quietly scornful over such an unlikely event.
" It s nobbut young Joe s wife," they said.

For once Amos felt unable to cast away his
personal affairs, and devote himself to his mill.
"I m fair dazed like!" he said, sitting down
before the table and holding his head in his
hands. " To think of Joe going prentice at
this time o day! Joe Braithwaite is no fool!
Going to Sam, too ! Well, I niver ! Dal it all,
it fair caps me ! And I hev promised to go to
owd Bradley s ; no, to Joe s, I mean," and then
he laughed heartily, and by sheer force of will


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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrMaster of his fate → online text (page 7 of 13)