Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

The Man Between, an International Romance online

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reformatories and listening to great preachers. Upon my word, I feel
sorry for the child! And I know all about such excellent people as the
Stanhopes. I used to go to what they call 'a pleasant evening' with
them. We sat around a big room lit with wax candles, and held improving
conversation, or some one sang one or two of Mrs. Hemans' songs, like
'Passing Away' or 'He Never Smiled Again.' Perhaps there was a comic
recitation, at which no one laughed, and finally we had wine and hot
water - they called it 'port negus' - and tongue sandwiches and caraway
cakes. My dear Ethel, I yawn now when I think of those dreary evenings.
What must Dora have felt, right out of the maelstrom of New York's
operas and theaters and dancing parties?"

"Still, Dora ought to try to feel some interest in the church affairs.
She says she does not care a hairpin for them, and Basil feels so hurt."

"I dare say he does, poor fellow! He thinks St. Jude's Kindergarten and
sewing circles and missionary societies are the only joys in the world.
Right enough for Basil, but how about Dora?"

"They are his profession; she ought to feel an interest in them."

"Come now, look at the question sensibly. Did Dora's father bring his
'deals' and stock-jobbery home, and expect Dora and her mother to feel
an interest in them? Do doctors tell their wives about their patients,
and expect them to pay sympathizing visits? Does your father expect Ruth
and yourself to listen to his cases and arguments, and visit his poor
clients or make underclothing for them? Do men, in general, consider it
a wife's place to interfere in their profession or business?"

"Clergymen are different."

"Not at all. Preaching and philanthropy is their business. They get so
much a year for doing it. I don't believe St. Jude's pays Mrs. Stanhope
a red cent. There now, and if she isn't paid, she's right not to work.
Amen to that!"

"Before she was married Dora said she felt a great interest in church

"I dare say she did. Marriage makes a deal of difference in a woman's
likes and dislikes. Church work was courting-time before marriage; after
marriage she had other opportunities."

"I think you might speak to Fred Mostyn - - "

"I might, but it wouldn't be worth while. Be true to your friend as long
as you can. In Yorkshire we stand by our friends, right or wrong, and
we aren't too particular as to their being right. My father enjoyed
justifying a man that everyone else was down on; and I've stood by many
a woman nobody had a good word for. I was never sorry for doing it,
either. I'll be going into a strange country soon, and I should not
wonder if some of them that have gone there first will be ready to stand
by me. We don't know what friends we'll be glad of there."

The dinner bell broke up this conversation, and Ethel during it told
Madam about the cook and cooking at the Court and at Nicholas
Rawdon's, where John Thomas had installed a French chef. Other domestic
arrangements were discussed, and when the Judge called for his daughter
at four o'clock, Madam vowed "she had spent one of the happiest days of
her life."

"Ruth tells me," said the Judge, "that Dora Stanhope called for Ethel
soon after she left home this morning. Ruth seems troubled at the
continuance of this friendship. Have you spoken to your grandmother,
Ethel, about Dora?"

"She has told me all there is to tell, I dare say," answered Madam.

"Well, mother, what do you think?"

"I see no harm in it yet awhile. It is not fair, Edward, to condemn upon
likelihoods. We are no saints, sinful men and women, all of us, and as
much inclined to forbidden fruit as any good Christians can be. Ethel
can do as she feels about it; she's got a mind of her own, and I hope to
goodness she'll not let Ruth Bayard bit and bridle it."

Going home the Judge evidently pondered this question, for he said after
a lengthy silence, "Grandmother's ethics do not always fit the social
ethics of this day, Ethel. She criticises people with her heart, not
her intellect. You must be prudent. There is a remarkable thing called
Respectability to be reckoned with remember that."

And Ethel answered, "No one need worry about Dora. Some women may show
the edges of their character soiled and ragged, but Dora will be sure
to have hers reputably finished with a hem of the widest propriety."
And after a short silence the Judge added, almost in soliloquy, "And,
moreover, Ethel,

"'There's a divinity that shapes our ends,
Rough-hew them how we will.'"



WHEN Ethel and Tyrrel parted at the steamer they did not expect a long
separation, but Colonel Rawdon never recovered his health, and for many
excellent reasons Tyrrel could not leave the dying man. Nor did Ethel
wish him to do so. Under these circumstances began the second beautiful
phase of Ethel's wooing, a sweet, daily correspondence, the best of
all preparations for matrimonial oneness and understanding. Looking for
Tyrrel's letters, reading them, and answering them passed many happy
hours, for to both it was an absolute necessity to assure each other

"Since I wrote thee yester eve
I do love thee, Love, believe,
Twelve times dearer, twelve hours longer,
One dream deeper one night stronger,
One sun surer - this much more
Than I loved thee, dear, before."

And for the rest, she took up her old life with a fresh enthusiasm.

Among these interests none were more urgent in their claims than Dora
Stanhope; and fortified by her grandmother's opinion, Ethel went at once
to call on her. She found Basil with his wife, and his efforts to make
Ethel see how much he expected from her influence, and yet at the same
time not even hint a disapproval of Dora, were almost pathetic, for he
was so void of sophistry that his innuendoes were flagrantly open to
detection. Dora felt a contempt for them, and he had hardly left the
room ere she said:

"Basil has gone to his vestry in high spirits. When I told him you were
coming to see me to-day he smiled like an angel. He believes you will
keep me out of mischief, and he feels a grand confidence in something
which he calls 'your influence.'"

"What do you mean by mischief?"

"Oh, I suppose going about with Fred Mostyn. I can't help that. I must
have some one to look after me. All the young men I used to know pass me
now with a lifted hat or a word or two. The girls have forgotten me. I
don't suppose I shall be asked to a single dance this winter."

"The ladies in St. Jude's church would make a pet of you if - - "

"The old cats and kittens! No, thank you, I am not going to church
except on Sunday mornings - that is respectable and right; but as to
being the pet of St. Jude's ladies! No, no! How they would mew over my
delinquencies, and what scratches I should get from their velvet-shod
claws! If I have to be talked about, I prefer the ladies of the world to
discuss my frailties."

"But if I were you, I would give no one a reason for saying a word
against me. Why should you?"

"Fred will supply them with reasons. I can't keep the man away from me.
I don't believe I want to - he is very nice and useful."

"You are talking nonsense, things you don't mean, Dora. You are not
such a foolish woman as to like to be seen with Fred Mostyn, that little
monocular snob, after the aristocratic, handsome Basil Stanhope. The
comparison is a mockery. Basil is the finest gentleman I ever saw.
Socially, he is perfection, and - - "

"He is only a clergyman."

"Even as a clergyman he is of religiously royal descent. There are
generations of clergymen behind him, and he is a prince in the pulpit.
Every man that knows him gives him the highest respect, every woman
thinks you the most fortunate of wives. No one cares for Fred Mostyn.
Even in his native place he is held in contempt. He had nine hundred
votes to young Rawdon's twelve thousand."

"I don't mind that. I am going to the matinee to-morrow with Fred. He
wanted to take me out in his auto this afternoon, but when I said I
would go if you would he drew back. What is the reason? Did he make you
offer of his hand? Did you refuse it?"

"He never made me an offer. I count that to myself as a great
compliment. If he had done such a thing, he would certainly have been

"I can tell that he really hates you. What dirty trick did you serve him
about Rawdon Court?"

"So he called the release of Squire Rawdon a 'dirty trick'? It would
have been a very dirty trick to have let Fred Mostyn get his way with
Squire Rawdon."

"Of course, Ethel, when a man lends his money as an obligation he
expects to get it back again."

"Mostyn got every farthing due him, and he wanted one of the finest
manors in Eng-land in return for the obligation. He did not get it,
thank God and my father!"

"He will not forget your father's interference."

"I hope he will remember it."

"Do you know who furnished the money to pay Fred? He says he is sure
your father did not have it."

"Tell him to ask my father. He might even ask your father. Whether my
father had the money or not was immaterial. Father could borrow any sum
he wanted, I think."

"Whom did he borrow from?"

"I am sure that Fred told you to ask that question. Is he writing to
you, Dora?"

"Suppose he is?"

"I cannot suppose such a thing. It is too impossible."

This was the beginning of a series of events all more or less qualified
to bring about unspeakable misery in Basil's home. But there is nothing
in life like the marriage tie. The tugs it will bear and not break, the
wrongs it will look over, the chronic misunderstandings it will forgive,
make it one of the mysteries of humanity. It was not in a day or a week
that Basil Stanhope's dream of love and home was shattered. Dora had
frequent and then less frequent times of return to her better self; and
every such time renewed her husband's hope that she was merely passing
through a period of transition and assimilation, and that in the end she
would be all his desire hoped for.

But Ethel saw what he did not see, that Mostyn was gradually inspiring
her with his own opinions, perhaps even with his own passion. In
this emergency, however, she was gratified to find that Dora's mother
appeared to have grasped the situation. For if Dora went to the theater
with Mostyn, Mrs. Denning or Bryce was also there; and the reckless
auto driving, shopping, and lunching had at least a show of
respectable association. Yet when the opera season opened, the constant
companionship of Mostyn and Dora became entirely too remarkable, not
only in the public estimation, but in Basil's miserable conception of
his own wrong. The young husband used every art and persuasion - and
failed. And his failure was too apparent to be slighted. He became
feverish and nervous, and his friends read his misery in eyes heavy
with unshed tears, and in the wasting pallor caused by his sleepless,
sorrowful nights.

Dora also showed signs of the change so rapidly working on her. She was
sullen and passionate by turns; she complained bitterly to Ethel that
her youth and beauty had been wasted; that she was only nineteen, and
her life was over. She wanted to go to Paris, to get away from New York
anywhere and anyhow. She began to dislike even the presence of Basil.
His stately beauty offended her, his low, calm voice was the very
keynote of irritation.

One morning near Christmas he came to her with a smiling, radiant face.
"Dora," he said, "Dora, my love, I have something so interesting to
tell you. Mrs. Colby and Mrs. Schaffler and some other ladies have a
beautiful idea. They wish to give all the children of the church under
eight years old the grandest Christmas tree imaginable - really rich
presents and they thought you might like to have it here."

"What do you say, Basil!"

"You were always so fond of children. You - - "

"I never could endure them."

"We all thought you might enjoy it. Indeed, I was so sure that I
promised for you. It will be such a pleasure to me also, dear."

"I will have no such childish nonsense in my house."

"I promised it, Dora."

"You had no right to do so. This is my house. My father bought it and
gave me it, and it is my own. I - - "

"It seems, then, that I intrude in your house. Is it so? Speak, Dora."

"If you will ask questions you must take the answer. You do intrude when
you come with such ridiculous proposals - in fact, you intrude very often

"Does Mr. Mostyn intrude?"

"Mr. Mostyn takes me out, gives me a little sensible pleasure. You think
I can be interested in a Christmas tree. The idea!"

"Alas, alas, Dora, you are tired of me! You do not love me! You do not
love me!"

"I love nobody. I am sorry I got married. It was all a mistake. I will
go home and then you can get a divorce."

At this last word the whole man changed. He was suffused, transfigured
with an anger that was at once righteous and impetuous.

"How dare you use that word to me?" he demanded. "To the priest of
God no such word exists. I do not know it. You are my wife, willing or
unwilling. You are my wife forever, whether you dwell with me or
not. You cannot sever bonds the Almighty has tied. You are mine, Dora
Stanhope! Mine for time and eternity! Mine forever and ever!"

She looked at him in amazement, and saw a man after an image she had
never imagined. She was terrified. She flung herself on the sofa in
a whirlwind of passion. She cried aloud against his claim. She gave
herself up to a vehement rage that was strongly infused with a childish
dismay and panic.

"I will not be your wife forever!" she shrieked. "I will never be your
wife again - never, not for one hour! Let me go! Take your hands off me!"
For Basil had knelt down by the distraught woman, and clasping her in
his arms said, even on her lips, "You ARE my dear wife! You are my very
own dear wife! Tell me what to do. Anything that is right, reasonable I
will do. We can never part."

"I will go to my father. I will never come back to you." And with these
words she rose, threw off his embrace, and with a sobbing cry ran, like
a terrified child, out of the room.

He sat down exhausted by his emotion, and sick with the thought she had
evoked in that one evil word. The publicity, the disgrace, the wrong
to Holy Church - ah, that was the cruelest wound! His own wrong was hard
enough, but that he, who would gladly die for the Church, should put
her to open shame! How could he bear it? Though it killed him, he must
prevent that wrong; yes, if the right eye offended it must be plucked
out. He must throw off his cassock, and turn away from the sacred
aisles; he must - he could not say the word; he would wait a little. Dora
would not leave him; it was impossible. He waited in a trance of aching
suspense. Nothing for an hour or more broke it - no footfall, no sound of
command or complaint. He was finally in hopes that Dora slept. Then he
was called to lunch, and he made a pretense of eating it alone. Dora
sent no excuse for her absence, and he could not trust himself to make
inquiry about her. In the middle of the afternoon he heard a carriage
drive to the door, and Dora, with her jewel-case in her hand, entered
it and was driven away. The sight astounded him. He ran to her room, and
found her maid packing her clothing. The woman answered his questions
sullenly. She said "Mrs. Stanhope had gone to Mrs. Denning's, and had
left orders for her trunks to be sent there." Beyond this she was silent
and ignorant. No sympathy for either husband or wife was in her heart.
Their quarrel was interfering with her own plans; she hated both of them
in consequence.

In the meantime Dora had reached her home. Her mother was dismayed and
hesitating, and her attitude raised again in Dora's heart the passion
which had provoked the step she had taken. She wept like a lost child.
She exclaimed against the horror of being Basil's wife forever and ever.
She reproached her mother for suffering her to marry while she was only
a child. She said she had been cruelly used in order to get the family
into social recognition. She was in a frenzy of grief at her supposed
sacrifice when her father came home. Her case was then won. With her
arms round his neck, sobbing against his heart, her tears and entreaties
on his lips, Ben Denning had no feeling and no care for anyone but his
daughter. He took her view of things at once. "She HAD been badly used.
It WAS a shame to tie a girl like Dora to sermons and such like. It was
like shutting her up in a convent." Dora's tears and complaints fired
him beyond reason. He promised her freedom whatever it cost him.

And while he sat in his private room considering the case, all the
racial passions of his rough ancestry burning within him, Basil Stanhope
called to see him. He permitted him to come into his presence, but he
rose as he entered, and walked hastily a few steps to meet him.

"What do you want here, sir?" he asked.

"My wife."

"My daughter. You shall not see her. I have taken her back to my own

"She is my wife. No one can take her from me."

"I will teach you a different lesson."

"The law of God."

"The law of the land goes here. You'll find it more than you can defy."

"Sir, I entreat you to let me speak to Dora."

"I will not."

"I will stay here until I see her."

"I will give you five minutes. I do not wish to offer your profession an
insult; if you have any respect for it you will obey me."

"Answer me one question - what have I done wrong?"

"A man can be so intolerably right, that he becomes unbearably wrong.
You have no business with a wife and a home. You are a d - - sight too
good for a good little girl that wants a bit of innocent amusement.
Sermons and Christmas trees! Great Scott, what sensible woman would not
be sick of it all? Sir, I don't want another minute of your company.
Little wonder that my Dora is ill with it. Oblige me by leaving my house
as quietly as possible." And he walked to the door, flung it open, and
stood glaring at the distracted husband. "Go," he said. "Go at once.
My lawyer will see you in the future. I have nothing further to say to

Basil went, but not to his desolate home. He had a private key to the
vestry in his church, and in its darkness and solitude he faced the
first shock of his ruined life, for he knew well all was over. All had
been. He sank to the floor at the foot of the large cross which hung on
its bare white walls. Grief's illimitable wave went over him, and like a
drowning man he uttered an inarticulate cry of agony - the cry of a soul
that had wronged its destiny. Love had betrayed him to ruin. All he had
done must be abandoned. All he had won must be given up. Sin and shame
indeed it would be if in his person a sacrament of the Church should be
dragged through a divorce court. All other considerations paled before
this disgrace. He must resign his curacy, strip himself of the honorable
livery of heaven, obliterate his person and his name. It was a kind of

After awhile he rose, drank some water, lifted the shade and let the
moonlight in. Then about that little room he walked with God through the
long night, telling Him his sorrow and perplexity. And there is a depth
in our own nature where the divine and human are one. That night Basil
Stanhope found it, and henceforward knew that the bitterness of death
was behind him, not before. "I made my nest too dear on earth," he
sighed, "and it has been swept bare - that is, that I may build in

Now, the revelation of sorrow is the clearest of all revelations.
Stanhope understood that hour what he must do. No doubts weakened his
course. He went back to the house Dora called "hers," took away what he
valued, and while the servants were eating their breakfast and talking
over his marital troubles, he passed across its threshold for the last
time. He told no one where he was going; he dropped as silently and
dumbly out of the life that had known him as a stone dropped into

Ethel considered herself fortunate in being from home at the time this
disastrous culmination of Basil Stanhope's married life was reached. On
that same morning the Judge, accompanied by Ruth and herself, had gone
to Lenox to spend the holidays with some old friends, and she was quite
ignorant of the matter when she returned after the New Year. Bryce was
her first informant. He called specially to give her the news. He said
his sister had been too ill and too busy to write. He had no word of
sympathy for the unhappy pair. He spoke only of the anxiety it had
caused him. "He was now engaged," he said, "to Miss Caldwell, and she
was such an extremely proper, innocent lady, and a member of St. Jude's,
it had really been a trying time for her." Bryce also reminded Ethel
that he had been against Basil Stanhope from the first. "He had always
known how that marriage would end," and so on.

Ethel declined to give any opinion. "She must hear both sides," she
said. "Dora had been so reasonable lately, she had appeared happy."

"Oh, Dora is a little fox," he replied; "she doubles on herself always."

Ruth was properly regretful. She wondered "if any married woman was
really happy." She did not apparently concern herself about Basil. The
Judge rather leaned to Basil's consideration. He understood that Dora's
overt act had shattered his professional career as well as his personal
happiness. He could feel for the man there. "My dears," he said, with
his dilettante air, "the goddess Calamity is delicate, and her feet
are tender. She treads not upon the ground, but makes her path upon the
hearts of men." In this non-committal way he gave his comment, for he
usually found a bit of classical wisdom to fit modern emergencies, and
the habit had imparted an antique bon-ton to his conversation. Ethel
could only wonder at the lack of real sympathy.

In the morning she went to see her grandmother. The old lady had "heard"
all she wanted to hear about Dora and Basil Stanhope. If men would
marry a fool because she was young and pretty, they must take the
consequences. "And why should Stanhope have married at all?" she asked
indignantly. "No man can serve God and a woman at the same time. He
had to be a bad priest and a good husband, or a bad husband and a good
priest. Basil Stanhope was honored, was doing good, and he must needs be
happy also. He wanted too much, and lost everything. Serve him right."

"All can now find some fault in poor Basil Stanhope," said Ethel.
"Bryce was bitter against him because Miss Caldwell shivers at the word

"What has Bryce to do with Jane Caldwell?"

"He is going to marry her, he says."

"Like enough; she's a merry miss of two-score, and rich. Bryce's
marriage with anyone will be a well-considered affair - a marriage with
all the advantages of a good bargain. I'm tired of the whole subject.
If women will marry they should be as patient as Griselda, in case there
ever was such a woman; if not, there's an end of the matter."

"There are no Griseldas in this century, grandmother."

"Then there ought to be no marriages. Basil Stanhope was a grand man in
public. What kind of a man was he in his home? Measure a man by his
home conduct, and you'll not go wrong. It's the right place to draw your
picture of him, I can tell you that."

"He has no home now, poor fellow."

"Whose fault was it? God only knows. Where is his wife?"

"She has gone to Paris."

"She has gone to the right place if she wants to play the fool. But
there, now, God forbid I should judge her in the dark. Women should
stand by women - considering."


"What they may have to put up with. It is easy to see faults in others.
I have sometimes met with people who should see faults in themselves.
They are rather uncommon, though."

"I am sure Basil Stanhope will be miserable all his life. He will break
his heart, I do believe."

"Not so. A good heart is hard to break, it grows strong in trouble.
Basil Stanhope's body will fail long before his heart does; and even so
an end must come to life, and after that peace or what God wills."

This scant sympathy Ethel found to be the usual tone among her
acquaintances. St. Jude's got a new rector and a new idol, and the
Stanhope affair was relegated to the limbo of things "it was proper to

So the weeks of the long winter went by, and Ethel in the joy and hope
of her own love-life naturally put out of her mind the sorrow of lives
she could no longer help or influence. Indeed, as to Dora, there were
frequent reports of her marvelous social success in Paris; and Ethel

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe Man Between, an International Romance → online text (page 11 of 14)