Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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"Then tell Polly to hev it served. Come,
Joe, a bit o dinner will mak a new man o*

He led him into a large, comfortable dining-
room, handsomely furnished with the solid
woods and heavy moreen that were fashionable
forty years ago. The windows were open, but
a little fire burned cheerfully above the bright
steel hearth furnishings; and the table, though
small, was laid with the utmost nicety and
care. Joe s cover appeared as if by magic. If


he had not been observant, he would have
supposed that he had been expected.

" Sit tha down at t table ; thou won t hev to
wait ; " and with the words the door opened,
and a most pleasant-looking woman, about
fifty years old, entered, She wore a black stuff
dress, and a snow-white cap and apron ; her
round, rosy face was beaming with smiles, and
in her hands she carried a platter with a cut of
fresh salmon on it ; it was boiled to perfection,
and laid upon white damask and fresh curled

" There, now, Master Yorke ! I do hope as
you and the young gentleman hev brought
good appetites with you. A bit o fish like
that is made for good men and good eaters."

" We ll be varry apt to do our duty, Polly ;
hes all gone well to-day ? "

"As well as could be expected, sir, with
giddy young girls in t house, and a pottering
owd man in t yard and t garden."

" They do middling well with thee Polly."

"Thank you, sir." The words were accom
panied by a little courtesy, and Polly withdrew,
leaving one of the giddy young girls to wait
on the table and bring in the meat and dessert.


As Joe soon found out, this conversation,
slightly varied according to the initial dish of
the meal, was an every-day event. And he
got to feel, as Yorke evidently did, that Polly s
handsome, happy face, and her cordial recom
mendation, imparted a kind of relish to all the
food her clever hands prepared.

The whole dinner was excellent, and Yorke
was pleased to see that Joe enjoyed it. "A
man who doesn t care for a good dinner, Joe,
doesn t care about lots of other good things. I
hevn t much opinion o him," said Yorke, as he
rose with a face full of content from the table.
Then he took from a rack in the chimney
corner a clean, long clay pipe, and, having rilled
it, sat silently smoking, while every trace of
dinner was quickly and quietly removed. Joe
had declined the pipe, but he lit a cigar, and
for half an hour the two men enjoyed that
delightful, dreamy repose which good viands
and good tobacco, and a companionship un-
exacting and sympathetic, seem to have the
power to give.

By and by, when Joe s cigar was finished,
and Yorke had tapped the ashes out of his


first pipe, and was lingeringly refilling the
bowl, he began to talk.

" I like a bit o quiet after dinner, Joe ; and
I thought we hed best begin as we would be
apt to carry on."

" I enjoyed it very much."

" But now thou can talk. I shall like to
hear thee talk now. I heard thou was a year
among t foreigners. Tell us summat about
thy travels."

This was a subject Joe liked to talk about.
He took his godfather from city to city, and
the time went by unheeded. The old man
was charmed. He had seen nothing of life
beyond Bradford and Manchester ; he listened
as a child listens to a fairy story. Insensibly
the room darkened, till there were only the
gray shadows of twilight, and the ruddy, fitful
blaze of the coal fire. Joe had been talking
about Rome, and the great church of St.

" And did ta really go into a popish church,
Joe ! why, howiver did ta feel about it ?"

" I will tell you. One night I went to the
Sistine Chapel. It was after midnight, just be
fore the dawning of Easter Sunday. They


were singing what they call the Miserere. At
each verse a light was put out, and as the
darkness grew deeper the music became
sadder and sadder, until I could scarcely en.
dure the sorrowful wail. But when every light
had been put out, when thick darkness had
fallen upon the kneeling congregation, then a
voice began to sing; such a voice, godfather ;
alone, clear, triumphant ; it sang the power of
the God of Resurrection ; and then the lights
suddenly blazed forth, and the whole people
rose to their feet, and I could not think of any
thing to say, but Glory, glory be to God ! "

The tears were in Joe s eyes, and Yorke s
face was shining with the rapture of his own
anticipations. " My word, Joe," he said in a
low, soft voice, " I would like to hear a hymn
like that ; I d go to Rome to hear it, I would

They were silent for a few minutes, and then
a maid brought in lights, and a tray with tea,
and Yorke said : " Phoebe, thou tell Polly to
hev t room above this one got ready for Mr.
Braithwaite." Then turning to Joe " We are
early birds here, my lad. I sail hev thee
called on t stroke of seven. That is a work-


ing-man s hour. I hope tha isn t afraid o*

"Not I."

Nor ashamed o it."

" Why should I be ashamed of it ? I m not
any better than you, or my father."

"And depend upon it, Joe, labor is the varry
salt of life. I won t hear tell o it being a curse.
Before iver *Adam sinned, when he was first
put i Paradise, he was commanded to dress
and keep it. The Lord works for us all. T
angels run to and fro, doing His will contin
ually. Ivery man ought to be wisely busy;
and I ll tell thee what, any father that works
hard, in order that his children may hev noth
ing to do, is working hard to mak them as
miserable as they can be."

" I believe it all, sir, but "

" Now, Joe, don t thee get weak-hearted."

" I was thinking of my wife and child."

" To be sure ; thou is right to think o them,
but they can t help thee in what ta wants to
do, and they would be varry sure to. hinder
thee. For two years thou must stick to thy
work. I ll hev naught to do wi thee, if ta is
going to run between Bradley and Manchester.


It must be one thing or t other. Thou wilt
hev to fill posts where ta can t be absent."

"You mean that I am not to go to Bradley
for two years."

" That is about what I mean. Thou can t
serve two masters ; is it to be thy wife, or
Samuel Yorke?"

" Men generally manage to do their duty to
both wife and business."

" Thine is a particular case, Joe. Because
most rivers slope gently to t sea, that doesn t
prevent Niagara taking a leap of a hundred
and fifty feet. Come, Joe, I am doing t right
thing for thee, ivery way. Tak my way for
two years, and then thou can tak thy way for
all t rest o thy life ; if ta doesn t tak my way,
thou art going to mak a mess of t whole affair,
and I ll hev naught to do with it."

There was something irresistible about the
man. After a moment s pause, Joe said : " I
will do as you think best."

They were walking up-stairs together as Joe
came to this decision. Yorke was much
pleased with it. He went with Joe into the
room prepared for him, and said, with a sigh,

" It was William Henry s room ; tha sees I


hevn t moved a thing. And I m glad I hevn t;
he was a good, kind lad, and I think he d like
to know thou wert comfortable in it. Good
night, Joe. We sail hev some happy hours
together, I can see that."

Certainly Joe was not very happy at that
hour. He had to tell Edith, and it was only
after many efforts he succeeded in writing her
the few lines she received the night she was so
lovingly expecting him home. But when this
letter was written and posted the difficulty of
Joe s new life was over. For to the strong the
irrevocable brings strength. Come what
might, he would now stand to the position he
had taken.

And for the first few weeks his business life
was not altogether a pleasant one. The
weather was damp and oppressive, and after
his country life the dense crowds in Dean s
Gate, profligate and miserable, sickened him.
The old church, with its lonely yard, and its
great square tower, blackened by the smoke of
every factory chimney ever built in Manchester,
made his heart pitiful. He wished the lank,
white spinners, sodden with the vapor of the
mills, and husky with the dust of the cotton


devils, could at least once a week worship amid
green fields. And he thought of Bevin Church,
with the trees whispering round it, and the
bells ringing psalms above it, and the hands
coming over the windy wolds to pray within its
white walls.

As for Market street, he was lost amid its
hurry and bustle, its rush and tumble. The
enormous lurries with their gigantic horses and
sulky brutes of drivers made him glad to get
within the lesser confusion, and the less
evident hostility, of his godfather s mill. And
very soon he became interested in his work,
and so weary with it that he found, as Yorke
had predicted, no inclination to go beyond the
limits of his daily needs and duties.

But these results could hardly be foreseen in
Bradley and Market-Bevin, and both Edith
and Amos Braithwaite had many anxious hours
the following week. After the father-in-law s
visit Edith answered Joe s letter. And the
answer did the very best side of her nature
credit. She frankly confessed her faults ; she
assured Joe of her unalterable affection. She
praised the spirit which had dared to face his
mistakes and disappointments, and declared,


" By so doing, dear Joe, you have put your feet
upon your ill-fortune and made yourself mas
ter of your fate. I have never before been so
proud of you, never before loved you half so

Then she told him of her visit to Aunt
Martha and to his father, and of the latter s
promise to take dinner with her the following
day. " And I hope you will be glad that
baby s name is settled," she said, " for when
Aunt Martha saw him she instinctively called
him little Joe, and I am sure he can have no
better name than your own."

That first week Edith did no : go over to
Bevin Hall; she had perceived that it would be
inconvenient to Amos, and she did not wish to
associate herself with any thing troublesome
to his daily life. But about Thursday she rode
over to Leeds again, and induced Martha
Thrale to come back with her to Bradley for
a week. Martha was very glad to go. Her arms
had been aching to hold the child once more.
She had begun to wish she knew Edith better,
for she desired to love her as Joe s \vii.fe ought
to be loved by her.

On Saturday morning Edith thought it best


to tell her that Amos was coming to dinner.
She was aware that they had not spoken to
each other for nearly eight years. She under-
stood the stubborn temper of both, and she did
not suppose Martha would wish to meet her
brother-in-law. " But if not, Aunt Martha," she
said, " do not leave your rooms ; I would not for
the world have you suffer any annoyance in my

" That s all right, Edith," she replied ; " but
I can tell you one thing. I niver yet run away
from either man or woman body, and I m par-
tic larly sure that I won t run from Amos Braith-
waite. If he doesn t like to be in t same room
wi me he can just tak himsen further off, as
soon as iver he chooses."

" I dare say that he will be very glad to meet
you again, Aunt Martha. He ought to be."

" Ay, he ought. I did him a deal o good
for many a year. He has mebbe found it out
by this time. And he hes nothing to feel hard
at me for, except that one night I told him t
truth about himsen, and if he didn t like it it
was nobody s fault but his awn. He had no
one to blame but Amos Braithwaite, if t truth
wasn t varry flattering."


So on Saturday the proud old lady sat
steadily in the parlor with her knitting, her
broad, placid, handsome face showing not a trace
of any thing but sincerity and content. Amos
came bustling into the room in his usual pom
pous fashion, and his eyes instantly fell upon
Martha, as she sat by the open window, busy
with a sock of pink wool for little Joe. It was
like a vision from his old life. In a moment
he remembered all the years in which she had
kept Bevin Hall a little palace of sweet clean
liness and exquisite comfort. His heart went
out to her, but he only said,

" Well, I m sure ; is that thee, Martha?"

" Ay, it s me, Amos, wi a difference o eight
years fash and worry and ageing. I m glad to
see thee looking so well and so like thy-

" Is ta really? Martha Thrale, when is ta
coming home? Thou ought to be ashamed o
thysen, leaving an old man like me to fettle for
himsen a these years."

" I hevn t done a thing or said a word that
I m shamed for, niver in my whole life, Amos

" I sud think that t Resurrection Day was


here, if I heard thee say different. It s natural
to hear thee talking like that. It would be a
strange thing to hear thee say as thou could be
in the wrong. It would that. But I ll tell thee
summat: t rats, and t mice, and ivery other
kind o vermin that thou hates, are heving a
good time over at Bevin, among t velvet chairs
and t hangings and t varry best carpets. And
that owd Tabby Askweth lies broke t last bit
o thy sister Ann s best china, and I don t
believe there is an ell o ta fine table damask

" Amos Braithwaite ! Such carryings on !
It s enough to make any body cry ; Tabby Ask
weth ought to be in Bevin lock-up, that she

" And I hevn t t ways, nor t means, to ask
my awn daughter-in-law to come and drink a
cup o tea wi me. It s a. shame, I say."

"It is thy awn fault."

"And I d like to see my awn grandson,
sometimes, in my awn house. Thou ought to
think o these things. Come home, my woman ;
I wouldn t be so stubborn and ill to move for
anything. Look at me; see how forgiving I
hev been. Why, I was too soft even to tell


Joe s wife a bit o my mind. Thou rt worse
than I am, Martha."

" Does ta want me to come back to Bevin?
Is that what ta means ?"

" Ay, I want thee to come home."

" Then I ll come, on one condition. Thou
must ask Joe back. I left when Joe left, and
I m none comin back till ta asks Joe back wi

" I ll do naught o t sort. He can come if
he likes. Edith is coming once a week, and if
a man can t follow his wife, I count nothing of
him ; he s too big a fool to ask. When will ta
come home, Martha ? "

" As soon as I hev put my furniture in safe

Sell it."

"Not I. Thee and me might get to differing
again, and I m not goin to put mysen out of a
home. I d be too much i thy power, if I sold
my furniture."

" Thou art eat up wi pride, but I ll set thee
an example, Martha. I ll show thee how to be
generous and forgiving. I ll settle .200 a year
on thee for life ; whether ta stays wi me, or


leaves me, thou shalt hev 200 a year. What
does ta say to that, now ? "

" I niver asked thee for a penny-piece, Amos
Braithwaite, and I don t know as thou hest any
right to give me 200 a year."

" Keep thysen cool, Martha ; I m not offer
ing thee any charity. Thou earned all I offer
thee, ay, over and over. I m nobbut paying a
just debt."

" If thou thinks of it that way, pay it. But
I m not the woman to take any mean advan
tage over thee. I m more likely to stay wi
thee, when I hev t" power to leave thee, than I
would be if I hadn t a penny."

"When will ta come home ? "

" Next Saturday thou wilt find me there, I ll
warrant, when ta comes from t mill."

Then Edith came in, and as the trio stood
together admiring little Joe, the door opened,
and Perkins entered. He was quite taken
down by the presence of Amos and Martha,
and could scarcely manage to explain that he
was passing, and had called to see if there was
any thing for him to attend to, etc.

Amos watched his confusion with cynical
pleasure. " Why, whativer is t matter wi


thee, Perkins? Thou isn t thysen at all. Thou
art blushing like a hobbledehoy ! Doesn t t
company here suit thee? For my part I m
varry glad to see thee. I have summat to say
to thee after dinner."

" Dinner is served, madam," said a servant.

" Then come thou wi me, Edith. I can
trust Joshua Perkins with Martha Thrale.
He ll hev to mind his P s and Q s if he is think
ing o cross-questioning her. I m glad Martha
is here. I like to eat my dinner without
racking my brain to keep upsides wi a clever
owd lawyer."

" Oh, Mr. Braithwaite ! Mr. Braithwaite !
You must hev your joke, we all know that."
And Perkins tried to hide his astonishment
and annoyance in a forced laugh, and in civil
attentions to Miss Thrale, who, however,
received them in an unusually silent and
haughty manner.



The soul gives itself strict account of every thing J
It penetrates itself with its own life.

That love never confers happiness on others
that sacrifices nothing for those whom it loves.

OW then, Perkins, if ta hes any ques-
tions to ask, thou may git all ta can
out o me."

The two men were walking and smoking in
the beautiful alleys of the rose garden, it being
a theory of Edith s that in some way tobacco
was favorable to the health of her favorite
flower. Two world-worn figures they looked,
amid the unspeakable freshness and loveliness
which surrounded them ; but Amos was not in
sensible to it. He loved flowers, he loved roses
best of all flowers, and as he invited the lawyer s
examination, he stood still a moment before a
wonderful white moss rose, a thing so purely,


so heavenly sweet and perfect, that it compelled
the eyes to pause and the heart to worship.

" Well, Mr. Braithwaite "

" Ay, thou hed better call me Mr. Braith
waite, I am got to where it s t right thing to
do. A man wi t overcharge o Bevin and
Bradley on his mind, deserves a bit o respect, I

" Did I understand you to say that you had
the charge of the Bradley estate, sir ? "

"I m not going to mell in thy business, so
thou need not look so turkey-gobbler like. I m
taking my daughter s place, not thine. That is,
I m taking Joe s place ; and, I must say, not a
minute before t right time. There s four houses
on Kattal Moor unlet for two years ; now then,
how does that come about ? "

" If you hev any right to ask "

" To be sure I hev, did ta iver know me
bother my head about other folks concerns?
But if ta wants to, thou can draw me up a
power of attorney."

" Then I answer that I cannot force people
to rent houses. They are there, if they want

" But thou could do summat to mak people


want them. Tell Darley to tak his paint pots
there, to-morrow, and hev t garden palings put
up, and t flower beds weeded, and t window
glass put in ; mak them look comfortable, and
they ll rent ; I ll be bound they will ! "
" All this costs money."

" I should say it did ; but ta must put money
out to get money in. Them houses standing
empty are a loss of So a year. Thou hed
better put out 10 and get ^70 back. But
thou art so used to getting good money for
talking a bit that it s hard to get t right prin
ciples of outlay and increase into thy head
there s more o t same kind too. That mill on
Sorbey beck has been empty for five years."
" I hev niver hed one offer for it."
"As a mill; that s likely ; but I ll tell thee
what ! T Wesleyan Methodists want a chapel
at Sorbey I know they do, for they came to
me for a subscription. Offer them t building
on a long lease. They ll nobbut hev to put t
seats in and paint it up a bit. Give em their
own terms, if they are any way near t figure."
" That is a good idea, Mr. Braithwaite."
" Ay, I think it is. I mostly know what I m
doing. And, I don t want a mill there; it


wont suit my plans. If they say t building is
too big, thou may tell them that ta knows
there will be plenty o men and women to
crowd it before varry long."

" Whativer does ta mean ?

" I understand my awn meaning, which is
more than many folks do. Now, thet is all
about Bradley at this time, only I d advise thee
to keep a sharper lookout for Bradley, for I ll
tell thee one thing, I sail keep a varry sharp
lookout for thee."

Perkins laughed, but not very pleasantly.
" I know what your lookout is, Mr. Braithwaite.
I m not a bit afraid of it. What is all this I
hear about Mr. Joe ? "

" What has ta heard ? "

" That he hed deserted his wife and child. I
heard also that you hed followed him to Liver
pool, but could not induce him to come home."

" Thou hes been fooled wi* a pack o lies.
Who told them to thee?"

"I am not at liberty to name names."

"Ay, but ta will hev to name names to me.
We aren t going one step further till ta does."
And Amos was so red and belligerent-looking
that Perkins thought it wisest to answer:


" If you insist on knowing, it was Tommy
Arncliff of t Bell Ringer s Inn."

" I ll sue him for defamation o my son s
character. Thou may lay t damages at io,-\

" Nonsense, Braithwaite. It isn t slander
saying what you ve heard to your lawyer. I m
Arncliff s lawyer. I could not, and would not,
be witness against him."

" Hes ta heard any one else say such things ? "

" I m not varry likely to tell thee now what
I hev heard. But it is easy to see that there is
something more than usual at Bradley, and of
course people, knowing how I stand to Bradley,
will ask me questions. I think it s only fair that
I should know how to answer them."

" Now thou talks common sense. If any
one asks thee where Mr. Joe is, tell them he is
with his godfather, Samuel Yorke of Spin
ning-Jenny street, Manchester. They ll meb-
be ask, too, why he is there, and ta can tell
them he hes gone to learn Yorke s business.
Thou can add thet his awn family approve all
he hes done, and thet I hev promised to tak
his place as far as I can, till he gets through
his prenticeship. If they want to know any


more, send em to me. I m none too old to
thresh a few ideas into their bones, that won t
go in through their ears. You hev to lick
wisdom into some folks, there s no other

" Mrs. Braithwaite, at any rate, seems quite
happy and satisfied."

" Mrs. Braithwaite is an extraordinary
woman, sir. How owd Bradley iver came to
have such a daughter caps me. She must hev
taken after t mother. And Mrs. Braithwaite
is quite set up with her husband s energy, and
his determination to go in for making money."

"Still, you can t help people wondering why
Mr. Joe did not go to his own father, if he
wanted to be a spinner."

" Nobody can help being born meddlers and
foolish busybodies. Does ta think I want
another woolen mill so near my own ? Does
ta think I want my son for a business rival ?
Does ta think I want to hear old customers
say, If ta can t let me hev this yarn at such a
figure, I sail go to thy son for it ? But a cot
ton mill ! That is thread of a different color.
I d like to hev a cotton mill about as far off as
Bradley. It won t do me a mite o harm. It


be rather a good thing for my property ;
it ll raise t price of it, and I hev, as ta knows,
a goodish bit o property in that direction."

" Mr Braithwaite, give me your hand. You
are the most far-seeing and sensible man I hap
pen to hev among my clients and acquaint
ances. I respect you, sir."

" I thought ta would choose to find out t
truth about me, someday or other. Now
we ll walk a bit down t park. I want to hev
a talk wi thee about it." Rather reluctantly
Perkins acquiesced. He did not relish this
interference, but if Amos was acting for the
lady of the manor he was in no way over-step
ping his power ; and it became Perkins duty
to listen to his instructions. Still, Amos was
undoubtedly irritating. He was not conscious
of his authoritative air, nor of that excessive
faithfulness to Edith s interests which was
natural to the newness of his relationship to
her ; but Perkins was conscious of it. In his
heart he was calling him very uncompliment
ary things as they returned from their walk.

It was then twilight, and they met Edith in
the hall as they entered it.

" Go into the parlor, Mr. Perkins," she


said ; " we shall have tea directly ; and,
Father, you must please come with me a few

She put her arm through that of Amos
and took him with her up the stairway. Per
kins stood a moment, watching with amaze
ment and some scorn, the old man s excessive
politeness, and the air of pride and satisfaction
which he unconsciously betrayed. Then he
sat down in the parlor, and watched the foot
man bring in some exquisite tea-cups of royal

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrMaster of his fate → online text (page 9 of 13)