Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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compelled himself to examine some yarns and
write his letters.



Wisdom is often nearer when we stoop
Than when we soar.

A creature not too bright and good
For human nature s daily food :
For transient sorrows, simple wiles,
Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears and smiles.

DITH left the presence of her father-in-law
I j with a sense of great satisfaction. She
had heard that he was rude and cross, and she
had feared that he would reproach her. On
the contrary he had been unusually kind and
considerate. She felt able to face the world,
able to endure her husband s absence, with such
a father-in-law at her side. In reality Amos
had never had any ill-will towards Edith. He
had thought well of her in the beginning, for
choosing Joe for her husband. During the first
year of their marriage, he had watched events


very closely, and had felt personally flattered
by the young couple s " carryings on," their
visitings at great houses, and their entertain
ment of great people.

He had read also of Edith s beauty, and he
had never missed a word of any paragraph de
scribing her dresses and jewels, even although
many of the words were in that objectionable
French language, which " hadn t a sensible,
understandable word in it." And yet he felt
proud of the tone which the italicized words
gave to the descriptions ; he said them care
fully over to himself, and generally from the
context arrived at something near their mean

So that altogether he was well inclined to
Edith. Then he was also one of those funda
mental men who have never frittered or scoffed
away the natural influence of feminine beauty.
A lovely woman, splendidly arrayed, made an
easy conquest of Amos. After Edith had
gone her influence remained ; she left some
thing like a strain of sweet music in his heart
all day.

" My word ! " he said to himself, " Joe hed a
lot o spunk to mak up to a woman like that.


I would hev thought of Queen Victoria just as
soon. And she called me fayther too, as
natural as iver was. And I m going to eat a
bit o dinner with her to-morrow. It caps me !
I do wonder what owd Luke would say if he
knew his daughter called me fayther, and
came to me for advice and protection ; and that
I was going to put my feet under t grand
mahogany table he bought for himsen ! Life
is a fair whirligig, and nobody can mak heads
or tails of it."

But the whirligig pleased him, and he was so
unusually smiling and bland in his manner that
the hands snickered to each other over his
infatuation, the general opinion being that
after all " it took an owd fool to mak a big

Edith also was quite aware of the triumph of
her first move. But she felt considerably more
doubt and hesitation concerning her next one.
In the afternoon she dressed herself much more
plainly. She was going to Leeds to see Martha
Thrale, and she had a very certain opinion that
Martha would not be won by either beauty of
person or splendor of apparel, even though in
the latter respect she should outdo Solomon in


all his glory. But the modest elegance of her
own black suit was fully compensated for by
baby s magnificence. All that lace and satin
and fine embroidery could do to enhance the
plump, pink loveliness of the little lad was done.
For it was upon baby that Edith relied for her
afternoon conquest.

The sudden pulling-up of the handsome
carriage before the door startled Martha a little.
She saw Edith descend from it, and her first
thought was, "Joe is varry ill, no doubt, and
she hes come for me to nurse him. There ll be
summat for Aunt Martha to do, as nobody else
likes to do, or Edith Braithwaite would niver
hev come my way," etc., etc.

She was putting on a clean white apron and
her best cap to such thoughts, when a little
servant girl said, "Please, ma am, there s a varry
grand lady in t parlor, and she s wanting to
speak to thee."

" What of that?" answered Martha fretfully.
" Go on wi thy own work, and I ll attend to t
grand lady, when I git ready for her."

And she entered the parlor so stiffly that
Edith found it impossible to say Aunt Martha
as at the mill she had said father. But Martha


put out her hand and advanced to meet her

" Keep your sitting, ma am. I hope you
haven t come \vi any bad news ? "

" I have come to tell you something, Miss
Thrale, and to ask you to be my friend."

" There s a deal will depend on what you
hev come to tell me. ma am ; and as for my
friendship, it isn t worth a half-penny more to
day than it iver was."

" To me it is worth a great deal more. I
want you to stand by me while Joe is away.
There is no woman living but you that I have
any right to ask this favor of. And I want
you to teach me how to be a better wife to Joe
when he comes back."

Joe away ! What iver does ta mean ?"

" I have not been very kind to Joe."

"Isudn t wonder! Well, ta needn t cry.
Crying niver helps any body but babies."

" Joe has gone to his godfather in Manches

" To Samuel Yorke ? Does ta mean that ? "

" Yes. He has gone to him for two

" For two years! I am fair taken aback."


He has gone to learn calico weaving and

" But what has he done a thing like that

" He does not want to use my money I
know it is all my fault. Oh, Aunt Martha,
please let me call you Aunt Martha forgive
me ! I know it is all my fault."

" I haven t a doubt but that it is thy fault.
I tell thee, it needs a bigger heart to tak
money than to give money. Joe allus took
what I could spare him in such a way as made
it a favor and a pleasure to hev him take it.
VVhativer hes ta been doing to Joe to drive him
off to hard work? "

" It began with Perkins."

"There! I said so. I knew it would. I
told Joe, t first morning Perkins took his place
in thy business, that trouble had begun."

" I can see now that I treated him badly
about the management of Bradley Manor ; but
I did it for the best."

" I think thou treated him shamefully. I
won t mince matters, nor pick and choose my
words about it. Thou treated Joe shamefully !
Thou threw a doubt and a slur on him before


ivery one. Let me tell thee how people talked
of it: She may be varry fond o him, but
she s too clever a lass to trust a penny o her
money through his hands. She wants a hand
some lad to husband her, but she knew owd
Perkins was t best husband for land and t
gold. Joe Braithwaite is nobbut a figure
head in Bradley. T varry servants call him t
Missis s husband. "

"Aunt Martha, please stop. I deserve it all,
I deserve it all, but I cannot bear to hear such

" How does ta think I liked to hear em?
Joe is all t same to me as if he was my own
son. I mothered him from t varry hour he
was born."

"Then you should have come and told me
how people were talking. Indeed, I think you
should ! It was your duty to have done so:"

" I don t want thee to tell me my duty, not
I. I did my duty to Joe ivery way until
he was thy husband. And ask thysen if I hed
come and told thee, say a month ago, or a week
ago, what answer thou would hev given me.
I ll tell thee ; it would have been: That med
dlesome old maid, that bothering, vulgar old


woman ; and thou would hev looked at me as
if thy eyes were pistols. Varry likely thou
would hev told me in so many plain words to
mind my own business and leave thine alone."

"Oh, I don t think I would."

" Yes, ta would. I hevn t a doubt of it.
There wasn t any body in this world that could
hev made thee see thy faults but Joe. And I
am right glad he hes hed t gumption at last to
tak his manhood s rights from under thy feet.
I am that ! I think better o Joe than iver I
did before. And if he wants my help I ll work
my owd fingers to t bone for him ; and glad to
do it. Poor Joe! Poor, dear Joe ! "

"Now you are crying, Aunt Martha."

" I m not crying for mysen I m crying for

" Don t do it. You make my punishment
greater than I can bear. Dear Aunt "

" Nay, nay, I m none dear to thee."

" You shall be you are. Any one Joe lovea
is dear to me. Let me help you to help Joe.
I know he won t take money from me, but let
me send some through you. Let us help him

" Does ta think I would play Joe a trick like


that? Niver! And I wouldn t deserve to be
forgiven. He s gone away to show that he can
do without thee. Does ta really think I d
help thee to spoil his plan ? Samuel Yorke
will pay him all he earns, I ll be bound ; and if
it is a bit scrimping, all the better, mabbe, for
t poor, dear lad."

By this time, Martha had in a measure lost
control of herself ; she was softly crying, with
her face hidden behind her apron. Edith sat
down by her side and, touching her hand, said,
" Aunt Martha, are you not going to stand by
Joe s wife while he is away? I am sure Joe
would like you to do so."

" I don t know. I must hev a bit o time to
think things over. I hevn t liked thee, and
thou has niver given me any cause to like

" My father-in-law forgave me at once, and
he is coming to Bradley to-morrow, to con
sider what is to be done while Joe is away.
Are you going to be harder than he ?"

" Amos Braithwaite allus gave up to a pretty
face ; it tak s more than face-beauty to get on
my kind side."

" Wait a minute, Aunt Martha." Then, to


the old lady s amazement, she left the room in a
great hurry, returning in a moment or two with
baby in her arms. Before Martha could speak,
the child was on her knee. It was fast asleep
among its laces and pink ribbons, the sweetest
bit of rosy, smiling humanity possible to im

" Joe s baby, Aunt Martha. Will not baby s
innocent beauty find your kind side for me?"

The temptation was an irresistible one. She
could not help lifting it in her arms. She could
not but hold it to her breast, and gaze down
into its pretty face. And as she did so it
suddenly opened its two great blue eyes and
smiled at her. She kissed it, she cried over it,
she called it her bonny little Joe; she broke
into smiles herself, and, looking up, met Edith s
smiles and tears, the very complement of her
own. She surrendered completely and at

" Tak off your bonnet, Edith, and we ll hev
a cup o tea together. I can t let t little lad
go just yet. My word ! But he is like his
father ! I remember when Joe was just such
another baby. How many teeth has he got,
Edith? And he has curly hair, too! But let


us have a this satin and lace off t little lad.
Eh ! but these are bonny socks he hes on his
feet ! I hev his father s first leather shoes, red
morocco, ankle-tights, they are and I d like to
give him them."

So the two women, with the child between
them, sat and drank tea together, and Martha
listened to such confessions as Edith chose to
make, with more tolerance than might have
been expected. But Edith did not blame her
self so unreservedly to Martha as she had done
to Amos. A kind of instinct told her that it
was both unwise and unnecessary. A man can
make allowances for the exaggerated self-ac
cusations of a woman suffering from the re
proaches of a wounded affection ; a woman is
never inclined to believe another woman any
better than she believes herself.

And Edith had determined, while Joe was
absent from her, only to know Joe s friends.
If she needed defence of any kind, they were
the most proper people to defend her. If she
needed society, she would seek it only with
them, and thus give no occasion whatever for
evil speaking. Besides, she knew they would
write to Joe. She wanted them to write of


her, and to write kindly of her. She was de
termined Joe should hear of her from every
side. She would not suffer herself to be for

Upon the whole her visit to Martha Thrale
was a far greater success than she had dared to
hope. Martha had taken the baby to her
heart, and she had taken the mother on proba
tion. And Edith felt that it would be worth
\vhile winning the heart of the stubborn but
true old lady. She knew that it was something
of a triumph to have obtained from her a
promise to come to Bradley once a week, even
though the concession had been only Avon by
representing to her that, in order to prevent
people speaking evil of Joe s wife, Joe s rela
tions must visit her. For Joe s sake the first
visits would doubtless be made, but Edith was
determined to very soon win for them a much
pleasanter personal character.

The next day, just at noon, the engine in
Bevin Mill ceased its panting and groaning,
the wheels and pulleys their revolving, and the
little streets and lanes around were almost im
passable for half an hour with workers loitering
homeward. Generally Amos enjoyed his quiet


mill on a Saturday afternoon. He liked to
wander through it ; to privately inspect all the
wheels and bands and looms ; and to stand
before the resting engine in its fine chamber,
panelled with stained woods, and feed his own
pride with thoughts of this marvellous creature,
the nervous centre that moved all his vast
machinery, and gave life to the devil and speed
to the shuttle. But this day he had other
thoughts and plans. That morning he had
received a letter from Samuel Yorke, and in it
Sam had dealt as faithfully with Amos as he
had personally done with Joe. " But Sam allus
lectured me above a bit when we were boys
together," he said to himself. " He were allus
too good by half." And as these thoughts
passed through his mind he spread Sam s letter
open on his desk and read it again, preparatory
to answering it.

DEAR OLD FRIEND : I should think, Amos
Braithwaite, thou would feel a bit ashamed of
me having to take thy son in hand, and to teach
him how to make a living at this time of day.
Joe has come to me for two years, and I am
going to do all I can for him. I should ask
any one but thee a big apprentice fee, but if I
asked thee for one I don t think thou would
feel it thy duty to pay it. Joe is a fine lad, and


he would have been a deal finer if thou had
brought him up in the way he ought to go.
Late as it is, I am going to let him find out
what earning his bread by the sweat of his
brow means, on every week day, and what
going to the chapel means on every Sunday.
But thou knows I will be as good as good to
him. I shall remember the time when we were
hard-working lads together, and I shall re
member my own dear lads, and thou need never
have one worry about thy Joe. He ll do pretty
middling yet, no doubt. Deary me, Amos !
How life does go on ! It is fifty years ago this
morning since me and thee stood on Windhill
brow together, and I said good-bye to thee,
Amos, and turned my face Manchester way,
and thou said " Good-bye Sam," and turned
thy face to Bradley Mill. We were lads then,
and there were something uncommon like tears
in our eyes. Thou hast made a big lot of
money since, but don t thee forget what a big
fool thou will be if thou does not make out
thy title clear to a place in the kingdom of
Heaven. And if thou hast not yet done so,
make haste about it, Amos; thou hasn t any
time to lose. God bless thee. Joe sends his
love and respects to thee.

Thy friend,


This letter touched and pleased Amos. He
was used to Sam s plain talking-, and had
generally felt all its truth and kindness. And
he took comfort from the fact of Joe being with
this man " too good by half," and had far more


respect for his son, and far more hope for his
f uture.than when he believed him to be under the
counsels of one able to teach him " how to steal
by line and level." His heart, too, was softened
by Sam s allusion to the past and to the future.
He recalled with a sigh the gray, windy
morning, and the two lads in their heavy clogs
and rough clothing, standing with their hands
clasped, as they said to each other a long good
bye. And he thought, as he had frequently
done before, that Sam was right enough about
its being time to look after the next world a
bit, and that if he could possibly manage it
he would begin going to church the next
Sunday morning. Then he dipped his pen
into the ink and wrote :

DEAR OLD SAM : If thou has got my Joe
to train up in the way he should go, thou has
got something worth the training; and rather
more work on thy hands than thou thinks for.
But if thou can only make him mind thee, as
well as thou used to make me mind thee, thou
may happen turn out as steady a going man as
thyself. As to prentice fees, I m glad thou
doesn t expect me to pay thee one, for I should
have to disappoint thee. When Joe is doing
good work, get one from him : he can afford it,
I m sure, and he will get to see into the value
of thy teaching better if he has to pay for it.


I didn t send him to thy school, and it s not
very likely I will pay for thy fees. I m aston
ished as thou should waste time and trouble
asking me about such a thing. I hope Joe will
be more of a comfort to thee than he seems
to have been to any one else yet. His wife
called to see me yesterday. She is a woman
that any man might be proud of; how Joe can
bide to leave her and stay with thee for two
years is one of them things as would cap any
body in their senses.

Thine, dear Sam,

Having read over the letter and found it to
his satisfaction, he sealed and posted it, and
then went home and dressed himself for his
visit to Bradley Court. All the-way there he
was in a state of suppressed exaltation, and
though far too prudent and proud to show his
amazement, the beautiful park and gardens,
the fine house, the silver and servants and
general grandeur, affected him very strangely.

To think how Bradley had hated him ! And
now he had a kind of proprietorship in all that
he had owned ! And surely if Bradley had
often set him in Cold-Shoulder Lane, Joe had
paid back that snubbing very effectually by
setting Edith in the same place for a term of
two years at a time. Upon the whole his bill


of offences against his old enemy was getting
a very full and satisfactory settlement.

He told Edith that he had had a letter from
Samuel Yorke, but he did not show it to hen
Sam had a free way of speaking to him, a
habit of reproof, which he thought might be a
bad example to set before Mrs. Joe. He was
very desirous to stand well with his new
daughter ; so he only told her what pleasant
promises Yorke had made about Joe, and how
certain he was that Joe s queer notion would
turn out to be the wisest notion he had.

Edith s first consultation with her father-in-
law was in respect to the prevention of any
general public discussion of their family affairs.
"Joe has left me, father," she said, feelingly,
" and there is nobody but you to take care of
my good name."

" It will be a bad move for any one tnat says
a wrong word o thee," he answered. " I ll
give them it that well that they won t know
where to hide themselves."

" What shall we say about Joe s long ab
sence? "

" Say ? Say the truth, my lass ; truth may be
blamed, but it never can be shamed. Say


that Joe was disgusted with t law, and weary
to death o doing nothing. Say that he wanted
to learn some straightforward, interesting
trade, that he could mak a bit o money by,
and that he hes gone to his godfather to learn
it. Surely to goodness, there s naught wrong
in that ! I d like to see t man as thinks there
is, that s all ! He d come to a varry different
opinion in a minute or two, I think."

" People will say, why did he not go to his

" Tell them his fayther wouldn t hev him;
and if they want to know any more of thy
business send em to me, for t information. I
sail enjoy giving it to them, varry much."

" And as long as Joe is away I am under
your protection, father ? "

"I sud say thou art. And I ll tak good
care of thee ; see if I don t."

" Every week I shall ride over to Bevin Hall
to see you ; and every Saturday you will come
to Bradley to see me."

Amos fidgetted and looked uneasy at the

"Why, ta sees, there is no woman body at
Bevin ; Martha Thrale went into a tantrum wi


me about Joe, and when Joe took himsen off
she went with him. I hevn t bothered rnysen
about women since, nor about t house either.
If I keep Bevin Mill spick and span it suits
me well enough, and I don t bother mysen
about t house. I sud rather think it is in a
bad state ; t mice and t moths hev been hev-
ing it to themselves, and there isn t a room in
it fit for a lady like thee."

" Poor Martha! I am afraid I made it almost
impossible for Joe to show her the least affec
tion or remembrance."

" He shouldn t hev let thee hinder him ; I
wouldn t. Martha was good to Joe. It was a
bit mean of thee to come between them."

" Every hour reveals some new thing in
which I wasn t fair or kind to Joe."

" I sudn t wonder. If a woman iver does
get her eyes opened to her awn faults, she s
varry likely to see into things that will keep
her on t stool of repentance a long time. I
don t say that Joe is without faults ; he be
haved varry badly to me. But still, I hev no
doubt thou aggravated him into doing lots of
things it wasn t Joe Braithwaite s nature to


" But I will be kind and gentle now, father."
" I hev no doubt. Thou wouldn t find it
easy to be cross wi me, Mrs. Braithwaite. Joe
was too good natured. He just led thee into
temptation. No woman can resist t pleasure
o ruling her husband, when he puts t reins
and whip in her hand. And what comes o
women ruling? Sin and sorrow, Mrs. B., sin
and sorrow allus."



" A man he seems of cheerful yesterdays
And confident to-morrows."

" The primal duties shine aloft like stars ;

The charities that soothe, and heal, and bless,
Are scattered at the feet of men like flowers."

" One in whom persuasion and belief had ripened
into faith."

MORAL energy is never a failure ; but when
Joe came to realize his position he was
a little amazed at the result of his godfather s
prompt acceptance of his regret for an unsatis
factory past and his resolutions for a better
future. He had really had no idea of such
heroic treatment of his dissatisfaction. He
had coquetted with the idea of going to his
godfather for some months, and when the visit
to Manchester was proposed he had deter
mined to take the preliminary steps to a wiser
and more independent life. But so rapid a


settlement of the affair had never occurred to
him as possible.

He had expected to make some arrangement
with Yorke, and then secure his wife s sanction
to his plan. He wanted to get across the
stream, but he had a sort of pleasure in linger
ing on the bank and anticipating the necessary
plunge. He was a little angry at himself, for
submitting to that peculiar, forceful something
in his godfather s manner which had gone at
once to the solution of his difficulty and taken
him with it.

" I should have returned home again, at
least for a month," he thought. " There are
things Edith will need some advice about ; and
I have only put her more than ever under the
influence of Perkins. And I ought to see and
talk with her on my plan, and I did not bring
my wardrobe and books with me, and certainly
I do not like the idea of being always under
the eye of that old man. He is too masterful.
I must have some different arrangement with
him. The whole affair has been settled in too
great a hurry."

But when the old man called at five o clock
and said, " Now then, Joe, pick up thy valise,


my lad. If we don t be sharp we ll keep din-
ner waiting," Joe had no power to enter the
protest he was thinking of. And though he
felt worried, and even a little cross, it was
impossible to show his temper to one so
genuinely kind, so placidly unconscious of
having caused worry or annoyance.

They stopped at a large brick house in the
suburbs of the great city. It stood in a small,-
shady garden, and the garden was surrounded
by a brick wall. Great solid gates admitted
them to its seclusion, and before they could
ring the bell the door was opened by a young
girl, who said, as Yorke removed his hat,
" Dinner is ready to serve, sir."

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrMaster of his fate → online text (page 8 of 13)