Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

The Man Between, an International Romance online

. (page 10 of 14)
Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe Man Between, an International Romance → online text (page 10 of 14)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

butterflies displayed their richest velvets, and the gossamer-like
insects in the dreamy atmosphere performed dances and undulations full
of grace and mystery. And all these marvelous changes imparted to love
that sweet sadness which is beyond all words poetic and enchaining.

Yet however sweet the hours, they pass away, and it is not much memory
can save from the mutable, happy days of love. Still, when the hour of
departure came they had garnered enough to sweeten all the after-straits
and stress of time. September had then perceptibly begun to add to
the nights and shorten the days, and her tender touch had been laid on
everything. With a smile and a sigh the Rawdons turned their faces to
their pleasant home in the Land of the West. It was to be but a short
farewell. They had promised the Squire to return the following summer,
but he felt the desolation of the parting very keenly. With his hat
slightly lifted above his white head, he stood watching them out of
sight. Then he went to his organ, and very soon grand waves of melody
rolled outward and upward, and blended themselves with the clear,
soaring voice of Joel, the lad who blew the bellows of the instrument,
and shared all his master's joy in it. They played and sang until the
Squire rose weary, but full of gladness. The look of immortality was in
his eyes, its sure and certain hope in his heart. He let Joel lead him
to his chair by the window, and then he said to himself with visible

"What Mr. Spencer or anyone else writes about 'the Unknowable' I care
not. I KNOW IN WHOM I have believed. Joel, sing that last sequence
again. Stand where I can see thee." And the lad's joyful voice rang
exulting out:

"Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations. Before the
mountains were brought forth, or ever Thou hadst formed the world, from
everlasting to everlasting Thou art God! Thou art God! Thou art God!"

"That will do, Joel. Go thy ways now. Lord, Thou hast been our
dwelling-place in all generations. 'Unknowable,' Thou hast been our
dwelling-place in all generations. No, no, no, what an ungrateful sinner
I would be to change the Lord everlasting for the Unknowable.'"


NEW YORK is at its very brightest and best in October. This month of the
year may be safely trusted not to disappoint. The skies are blue, the
air balmy, and there is generally a delightful absence of wind. The
summer exiles are home again from Jersey boarding houses, and mountain
camps, and seaside hotels, and thankful to the point of hilarity that
this episode of the year is over, that they can once more dwell under
their own roofs without breaking any of the manifest laws of the great
goddess Custom or Fashion.

Judge Rawdon's house had an especially charming "at home" appearance.
During the absence of the family it had been made beautiful inside and
outside, and the white stone, the plate glass, and falling lace evident
to the street, had an almost conscious look of luxurious propriety.

The Judge frankly admitted his pleasure in his home surroundings. He
said, as they ate their first meal in the familiar room, that "a visit
to foreign countries was a grand, patriotic tonic." He vowed that the
"first sight of the Stars and Stripes at Sandy Hook had given him the
finest emotion he had ever felt in his life," and was altogether in
his proudest American mood. Ruth sympathized with him. Ethel listened
smiling. She knew well that the English strain had only temporarily
exhausted itself; it would have its period of revival at the proper

"I am going to see grandmother," she said gayly. "I shall stay with her
all day."

"But I have a letter from her," interrupted the Judge, "and she will not
return home until next week."

"I am sorry. I was anticipating so eagerly the joy of seeing her. Well,
as I cannot do so, I will go and call on Dora Stanhope."

"I would not if I were you, Ethel," said Ruth. "Let her come and call on

"I had a little note from her this morning, welcoming me home, and
entreating me to call."

The Judge rose as Ethel was speaking, and no more was said about the
visit at that time but a few hours later Ethel came down from her room
ready for the street and frankly told Ruth she had made up her mind to
call on Dora.

"Then I will only remind you, Ethel, that Dora is not a fortunate woman
to know. As far as I can see, she is one of those who sow pain of heart
and vexation of spirit about every house they enter, even their own.
But I cannot gather experience for you, it will have to grow in your own

"All right, dear Ruth, and if I do not like its growth, I will pull it
up by the roots, I assure you."

Ruth went with her to the door and watched her walk leisurely down the
broad steps to the street. The light kindled in her eyes and on her face
as she did so. She already felt the magnetism of the great city, and
with a laughing farewell walked rapidly toward Dora's house.

Her card brought an instant response, and she heard Dora's welcome
before the door was opened. And her first greeting was an enthusiastic
compliment, "How beautiful you have grown, Ethel!" she cried. "Ah, that
is the European finish. You have gained it, my dear; you really are very
much improved."

"And you also, Dora?"

The words were really a question, but Dora accepted them as an
assertion, and was satisfied.

"I suppose I am," she answered, "though I'm sure I can't tell how it
should be so, unless worry of all kinds is good for good looks. I've had
enough of that for a lifetime."

"Now, Dora."

"Oh, it's the solid truth - partly your fault too."

"I never interfered - - "

"Of course you didn't, but you ought to have interfered. When you called
on me in London you might have seen that I was not happy; and I wanted
to come to Rawdon Court, and you would not invite me. I called your
behavior then 'very mean,' and I have not altered my opinion of it."

"There were good reasons, Dora, why I could not ask you."

"Good reasons are usually selfish ones, Ethel, and Fred Mostyn told me
what they were.

"He likely told you untruths, Dora, for he knew nothing about my
reasons. I saw very little of him."

"I know. You treated him as badly as you treated me, and all for some
wild West creature - a regular cowboy, Fred said, but then a Rawdon!"

"Mr. Mostyn has misrepresented Mr. Tyrrel Rawdon - that is all about it.
I shall not explain 'how' or 'why.' Did you enjoy yourself at Stanhope

"Enjoy myself! Are you making fun of me? Ethel, dear, it was the most
awful experience. You never can imagine such a life, and such women.
They were dressed for a walk at six o'clock; they had breakfast at
half-past seven. They went to the village and inspected cottages, and
gave lessons in housekeeping or dressmaking or some other drudgery till
noon. They walked back to the Castle for lunch. They attended to their
own improvement from half-past one until four, had lessons in drawing
and chemistry, and, I believe, electricity. They had another walk, and
then indulged themselves with a cup of tea. They dressed and received
visitors, and read science or theology between whiles. There was always
some noted preacher or scholar at the dinner table. The conversation was
about acids and explosives, or the planets or bishops, or else on the
never, never-ending subject of elevating the workingman and building
schools for his children. Basil, of course, enjoyed it. He thought he
was giving me a magnificent object lesson. He was never done praising
the ladies Mary Elinor and Adelaide Stanhope. I'm sure I wish he had
married one or all of them - and I told him so."

"You could not be so cruel, Dora."

"I managed it with the greatest ease imaginable. He was always trotting
at their side. They spoke of him as 'the most pious young man.' I have
no doubt they were all in love with him. I hope they were. I used to
pretend to be very much in love when they were present. I dare say it
made them wretched. Besides, they blushed and thought me improper. Basil
didn't approve, either, so I hit all round."

She rose at this memory and shook out her silk skirts, and walked up and
down the room with an air that was the visible expression of the mockery
and jealousy in her heart. This was an entirely different Dora to the
lachrymose, untidy wife at the Savoy Hotel in London, and Ethel had a
momentary pang at the thought of the suffering which was responsible for
the change.

"If I had thought, Dora, you were so uncomfortable, I would have asked
Basil and you to the Court."

"You saw I was not happy when I was at the Savoy."

"I thought you and Basil had had a kind of lovers' quarrel, and that it
would blow over in an hour or two; no one likes to meddle with an affair
of that kind. Are you going to Newport, or is Mrs. Denning in New York?"

"That is another trouble, Ethel. When I wrote mother I wanted to come to
her, she sent me word she was going to Lenox with a friend. Then, like
you, she said 'she had no liberty to invite me,' and so on. I never knew
mother act in such a way before. I nearly broke my heart about it for a
few days, then I made up my mind I wouldn't care."

"Mrs. Denning, I am sure, thought she did the wisest and kindest thing

"I didn't want mother to be wise. I wanted her to understand that I was
fairly worn out with my present life and needed a change. I'm sure
she did understand. Then why was she so cruel?" and she shrugged
her shoulders impatiently and sat down. "I'm so tired of life," she
continued. "When did you hear of Fred Mostyn?"

"I know nothing of his movements. Is he in America?"

"Somewhere. I asked mother if he was in Newport, and she never answered
the ques-tion. I suppose he will be in New York for the winter season. I
hope so."

This topic threatened to be more dangerous than the other, and
Ethel, after many and futile attempts to bring conversation into safe
commonplace channels, pleaded other engagements and went away. She was
painfully depressed by the interview. All the elements of tragedy were
gathered together under the roof she had just left, and, as far as she
could see, there was no deliverer wise and strong enough to prevent a
calamity. She did not repeat to Ruth the conversation which had been so
painful to her. She described Dora's dress and appearance, and commented
on Fred Mostyn's description of Tyrrel Rawdon, and on Mrs. Denning's
refusal of her daughter's proposed visit.

Ruth thought the latter circumstance significant. "I dare say Mostyn
was in Newport at that time," she answered. "Mrs. Denning has some very
quick perceptions." And Ruth's opinion was probably correct, for during
dinner the Judge remarked in a casual manner that he had met Mr. Mostyn
on the avenue as he was coming home. "He was well," he said, "and made
all the usual inquiries as to your health." And both Ruth and Ethel
understood that he wished them to know of Mostyn's presence in the city,
and to be prepared for meeting him; but did not care to discuss
the subject further, at least at that time. The information brought
precisely the same thought at the same moment to both women, and as soon
as they were alone they uttered it.

"She knew Mostyn was in the city," said Ethel in a low voice.


"She was expecting him."

"I am sure of it."

"Her elaborate and beautiful dressing was for him."

"Poor Basil!"

"She asked me to stay and lunch with her, but very coolly, and when
I refused, did not press the matter as she used to do. Yes, she was
expecting him. I understand now her nervous manner, her restlessness,
her indifference to my short visit. I wish I could do anything."

"You cannot, and you must not try."

"Some one must try."

"There is her husband. Have you heard from Tyrrel yet."

"I have had a couple of telegrams. He will write from Chicago."

"Is he going at once to the Hot Springs?"

"As rapidly as possible. Colonel Rawdon is now there, and very ill.
Tyrrel will put his father first of all. The trouble at the mine can be
investigated afterwards."

"You will miss him very much. You have been so happy together."

"Of course I shall miss him. But it will be a good thing for us to be
apart awhile. Love must have some time in which to grow. I am a little
tired of being very happy, and I think Tyrrel also will find absence a
relief. In 'Lalla Rookh' there is a line about love 'falling asleep in a
sameness of splendor.' It might. How melancholy is a long spell of hot,
sunshiny weather, and how gratefully we welcome the first shower of

"Love has made you a philosopher, Ethel."

"Well, it is rather an advantage than otherwise. I am going to take a
walk, Ruth, into the very heart of Broadway. I have had enough of the
peace of the country. I want the crack, and crash, and rattle, and grind
of wheels, the confused cries, the snatches of talk and laughter, the
tread of crowds, the sound of bells, and clocks, and chimes. I long for
all the chaotic, unintelligible noise of the streets. How suggestive
it is! Yet it never explains itself. It only gives one a full sense of
life. Love may need just the same stimulus. I wish grandmother would
come home. I should not require Broadway as a stimulus. I am afraid she
will be very angry with me, and there will be a battle royal in Gramercy

It was nearly a week before Ethel had this crisis to meet. She went down
to it with a radiant face and charming manner, and her reception was
very cordial. Madam would not throw down the glove until the proper
moment; besides, there were many very interesting subjects to talk over,
and she wanted "to find things out" that would never be told unless
tempers were propitious. Added to these reasons was the solid one that
she really adored her granddaughter, and was immensely cheered by the
very sight of the rosy, smiling countenance lifted to her sitting-room
window in passing. She, indeed, pretended to be there in order to get
a good light for her new shell pattern, but she was watching for Ethel,
and Ethel understood the shell-pattern fiction very well. She had heard
something similar often.

"My darling grandmother," she cried, "I thought you would never come

"It wasn't my fault, dear. Miss Hillis and an imbecile young doctor made
me believe I had a cold. I had no cold. I had nothing at all but what
I ought to have. I've been made to take all sorts of things, and do all
sorts of things that I hate to take and hate to do. For ten days I've
been kicking my old heels against bedclothes. Yesterday I took things in
my own hands."

"Never mind, Granny dear, it was all a good discipline."

"Discipline! You impertinent young lady! Discipline for your
grandmother! Discipline, indeed! That one word may cost you a thousand
dollars, miss."

"I don't care if it does, only you must give the thousand dollars to
poor Miss Hillis."

"Poor Miss Hillis has had a most comfortable time with me all summer."

"I know she has, consequently she will feel her comfortless room and
poverty all the more after it. Give her the thousand, Granny. I'm

"What kind of company have you been keeping, Ethel Rawdon? Who has
taught you to squander dollars by the thousand? Discipline! I think you
are giving me a little now - a thousand dollars a lesson, it seems - no
wonder, after the carryings-on at Rawdon Court."

"Dear grandmother, we had the loveliest time you can imagine. And there
is not, in all the world, such a noble old gentleman as Squire Percival

"I know all about Percival Rawdon - a proud, careless, extravagant,
loose-at-ends man, dancing and singing and loving as it suited time and
season, taking no thought for the future, and spending with both hands;
hard on women, too, as could be."

"Grandmother, I never saw a more courteous gentleman. He worships women.
He was never tired of talking about you."

"What had he to say about me?"

"That you were the loveliest girl in the county, and that he never could
forget the first time he saw you. He said you were like the vision of an

"Nonsense! I was just a pretty girl in a book muslin frock and a white
sash, with a rose at my breast. I believe they use book muslin for
linings now, but it did make the sheerest, lightest frocks any girl
could want. Yes, I remember that time. I was going to a little party and
crossing a meadow to shorten the walk, and Squire Percival had been out
with his gun, and he laid it down and ran to help me over the stile. A
handsome young fellow he was then as ever stepped in shoe leather."

"And he must have loved you dearly. He would sit hour after hour telling
Ruth and me how bright you were, and how all the young beaux around
Monk-Rawdon adored you."

"Nonsense! Nonsense! I had beaux to be sure. What pretty girl hasn't?"

"And he said his brother Edward won you because he was most worthy of
your love."

"Well, now, I chose Edward Rawdon because he was willing to come to
America. I longed to get away from Monk-Rawdon. I was faint and weary
with the whole stupid place. And the idea of living a free and equal
life, and not caring what lords and squires and their proud ladies said
or did, pleased me wonderfully. We read about Niagara and the great
prairies and the new bright cities, and Edward and I resolved to
make our home there. Your grandfather wasn't a man to like being 'the
Squire's brother.' He could stand alone."

"Are you glad you came to America?"

"Never sorry a minute for it. Ten years in New York is worth fifty years
in Monk-Rawdon, or Rawdon Court either."

"Squire Percival was very fond of me. He thought I resembled you,
grandmother, but he never admitted I was as handsome as you were."

"Well, Ethel dear, you are handsome enough for the kind of men you'll
pick up in this generation - most of them bald at thirty, wearing
spectacles at twenty or earlier, and in spite of the fuss they make
about athletics breaking all to nervous bits about fifty."

"Grandmother, that is pure slander. I know some very fine young men,
handsome and athletic both."

"Beauty is a matter of taste, and as to their athletics, they can run
a mile with a blacksmith, but when the thermometer rises to eighty-five
degrees it knocks them all to pieces. They sit fanning themselves like
schoolgirls, and call for juleps and ice-water. I've got eyes yet, my
dear. Squire Percival was a different kind of man; he could follow the
hounds all day and dance all night. The hunt had not a rider like
him; he balked at neither hedge, gate, nor water; a right gallant,
courageous, honorable, affectionate gentleman as ever Yorkshire bred,
and she's bred lots of superfine ones. What ever made him get into such
a mess with his estate? Your grandfather thought him as straight as a
string in money matters."

"You said just now he was careless and extravagant."

"Well, I did him wrong, and I'm sorry for it. How did he manage to need
eighty thousand pounds?"

"It is rather a pitiful story, grandmother, but he never once blamed
those who were in the wrong. His son for many years had been the real
manager of the estate. He was a speculator; his grandsons were wild and
extravagant. They began to borrow money ten years ago and had to go on."

"Whom did they borrow from?"

"Fred Mostyn's father."

"The devil! Excuse me, Ethel - but the name suits and may stand."

"The dear old Squire would have taken the fault on himself if he could
have done so. They that wronged him were his own, and they were dead. He
never spoke of them but with affection."

"Poor Percival! Your father told me he was now out of Mostyn's power;
he said you had saved the estate, but he gave me no particulars. How did
you save it?"

"Bought it!"


"House and lands and outlying farms and timber - everything."

Then a rosy color overspread Madam's face, her eyes sparkled, she rose
to her feet, made Ethel a sweeping courtesy, and said:

"My respect and congratulations to Ethel, Lady of Rawdon Manor."

"Dear grandmother, what else could I do?"

"You did right."

"The Squire is Lord of the Manor as long as he lives. My father says I
have done well to buy it. In the future, if I do not wish to keep it,
Nicholas Rawdon will relieve me at a great financial advantage."

"Why didn't you let Nicholas Rawdon buy it now?"

"He would have wanted prompt possession. The Squire would have had to
leave his home. It would have broken his heart."

"I dare say. He has a soft, loving heart. That isn't always a blessing.
It can give one a deal of suffering. And I hear you have all been making
idols of these Tyrrel-Rawdons. Fred tells me they are as vulgar a lot as
can be."

"Fred lies! Excuse me, grandmother - but the word suits and may stand.
Mr. Nicholas is pompous, and walks as slowly as if he had to carry the
weight of his great fortune; but his manners are all right, and his
wife and son are delightful. She is handsome, well dressed, and so
good-hearted that her pretty county idioms are really charming. John
Thomas is a man by himself - not handsome, but running over with good
temper, and exceedingly clever and wide-awake. Many times I was forced
to tell myself, John Thomas would make an ideal Squire of Rawdon."

"Why don't you marry him."

"He never asked me."

"What was the matter with the men?"

"He was already engaged to a very lovely young lady."

"I am glad she is a lady."

"She is also very clever. She has been to college and taken high honors,
a thing I have not done."

"You might have done and overdone that caper; you were too sensible to
try it. Well, I'm glad that part of the family is looking up. They had
the right stuff in them, and it is a good thing for families to dwell
together in unity. We have King David's word for that. My observation
leads me to think it is far better for families to dwell apart, in
unity. They seldom get along comfortably together."

Then Ethel related many pleasant, piquant scenes between the two
families at Monk-Rawdon, and especially that one in which the room of
the first Tyrrel had been opened and his likeness restored to its
place in the family gallery. It touched the old lady to tears, and she
murmured, "Poor lad! Poor lad! I wonder if he knows! I wonder if he

The crucial point of Ethel's revelations had not yet been revealed,
but Madam was now in a gentle mood, and Ethel took the opportunity to
introduce her to Tyrrel Rawdon. She was expecting and waiting for this
topic, but stubbornly refused to give Ethel any help toward bringing
it forward. At last, the girl felt a little anger at her pretended
indifference, and said, "I suppose Fred Mostyn told you about Mr. Tyrrel
Rawdon, of California?"

"Tyrrel Rawdon, of California! Pray, who may he be?"

"The son of Colonel Rawdon, of the United States Army."

"Oh, to be sure! Well, what of him?"

"I am going to marry him."

"I shall see about that."

"We were coming here together to see you, but before we left the steamer
he got a telegram urging him to go at once to his father, who is very

"I have not asked him to come and see me. Perhaps he will wait till I do

"If you are not going to love Tyrrel, you need not love me. I won't have
you for a grandmother any longer."

"I did without you sixty years. I shall not live another twelve months,
and I think I can manage to do without you for a granddaughter any

"You cannot do without me. You would break your heart, and I should
break mine." Whereupon Ethel began to cry with a passion that quite
gratified the old lady. She watched her a few moments, and then said

"There now, that will do. When he comes to New York bring him to see me.
And don't name the man in the meantime. I won't talk about him till I've
seen him. It isn't fair either way. Fred didn't like him."

"Fred likes no one but Dora Stanhope."

"Eh! What! Is that nonsense going on yet?"

Then Ethel described her last two interviews with Dora. She did this
with scrupulous fidelity, making no suggestions that might prejudice the
case. For she really wanted her grandmother's decision in order to frame
her own conduct by it. Madam was not, however, in a hurry to give it.

"What do you think?" she asked Ethel.

"I have known Dora for many years; she has always told me everything."

"But nothing about Fred?"


"Nothing to tell, perhaps?"


"Where does her excellent husband come in?"

"She says he is very kind to her in his way."

"And his way is to drag her over the world to see the cathedrals
thereof, and to vary that pleasure with inspecting schools and

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 12 13 14

Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe Man Between, an International Romance → online text (page 10 of 14)