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Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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did not doubt Stanhope had found some everlasting gospel of holy work to
comfort his desolation. And then also

"Each day brings its petty dust,
Our soon-choked souls to fill;
And we forget because we must,
And not because we will."


One evening when May with heavy clouds and slant rains was making the
city as miserable as possible, Ethel had a caller. His card bore a name
quite unknown, and his appearance gave no clew to his identity.

"Mr. Edmonds?" she said interrogatively.

"Are you Miss Ethel Rawdon?" he asked.

"Yes."

"Mr. Basil Stanhope told me to put this parcel in your hands."

"Oh, Mr. Stanhope! I am glad to hear from him. Where is he now?"

"We buried him yesterday. He died last Sunday as the bells were ringing
for church - pneumonia, miss. While reading the ser-vice over a poor
young man he had nursed many weeks he took cold. The poor will miss him
sorely."

"DEAD!" She looked aghast at the speaker, and again ejaculated the
pitiful, astounding word.

"Good evening, miss. I promised him to return at once to the work he
left me to do." And he quietly departed, leaving Ethel standing with the
parcel in her hands. She ran upstairs and locked it away. Just then she
could not bear to open it.

"And it is hardly twelve months since he was married," she sobbed. "Oh,
Ruth, Ruth, it is too cruel!"

"Dear," answered Ruth, "there is no death to such a man as Basil
Stanhope."

"He was so young, Ruth."

"I know. 'His high-born brothers called him hence' at the age of
twenty-nine, but

"'It is not growing like a tree,
In bulk, doth make men better be;
Or standing like an oak three hundred year,
To fall at last, dry, bald and sear:
A lily of a day
Is fairer far in May;
Although it fall and die that night,
It was the plant and flower of light.'"


At these words the Judge put down his Review to listen to Ethel's story,
and when she ceased speaking he had gone far further back than any
antique classic for compensation and satisfaction:

"He being made perfect in a short time fulfilled a long time. For his
soul pleased the Lord, therefore hasted He to take him away from among
the wicked." [2] And that evening there was little conversation. Every
heart was busy with its own thoughts.

[Footnote 2: Wisdom of Solomon, IV., 13, 14.]



CHAPTER XI


TRADE and commerce have their heroes as well as arms, and the struggle
in which Tyrrel Rawdon at last plucked victory from apparent failure was
as arduous a campaign as any military operations could have afforded. It
had entailed on him a ceaseless, undaunted watch over antagonists rich
and powerful; and a fight for rights which contained not only his own
fortune, but the honor of his father, so that to give up a fraction of
them was to turn traitor to the memory of a parent whom he believed
to be beyond all doubt or reproach. Money, political power, civic
influence, treachery, bribery, the law's delay and many other
hindrances met him on every side, but his heart was encouraged daily to
perseverance by love's tenderest sympathy. For he told Ethel everything,
and received both from her fine intuitions and her father's legal skill
priceless comfort and advice. But at last the long trial was over, the
marriage day was set, and Tyrrel, with all his rights conceded, was
honorably free to seek the happiness he had safeguarded on every side.

It was a lovely day in the beginning of May, nearly two years after
their first meeting, when Tyrrel reached New York. Ethel knew at what
hour his train would arrive, she was watching and listening for his
step. They met in each other's arms, and the blessed hours of that happy
evening were an over-payment of delight for the long months of their
separation.

In the morning Ethel was to introduce her lover to Madam Rawdon, and
side by side, almost hand in hand, they walked down the avenue together.
Walked? They were so happy they hardly knew whether their feet touched
earth or not. They had a constant inclination to clasp hands, to run as
little children run; They wished to smile at everyone, to bid all the
world good morning. Madam had resolved to be cool and careful in her
advances, but she quickly found herself unable to resist the sight of
so much love and hope and happiness. The young people together took her
heart by storm, and she felt herself compelled to express an interest in
their future, and to question Tyrrel about it.

"What are you going to do with yourself or make of yourself?" she asked
Tyrrel one evening when they were sitting together. "I do hope you'll
find some kind of work. Anything is better than loafing about clubs and
such like places."

"I am going to study law with Judge Rawdon. My late experience has
taught me its value. I do not think I shall loaf in his office."

"Not if he is anywhere around. He works and makes others work. Lawyering
is a queer business, but men can be honest in it if they want to."

"And, grandmother," said Ethel, "my father says Tyrrel has a wonderful
gift for public speaking. He made a fine speech at father's club last
night. Tyrrel will go into politics."

"Will he, indeed? Tyrrel is a wonder. If he manages to walk his shoes
straight in the zigzaggery ways of the law, he will be one of that grand
breed called 'exceptions.' As for politics, I don't like them, far from
it. Your grandfather used to say they either found a man a rascal or
made him one. However, I'm ready to compromise on law and politics. I
was afraid with his grand voice he would set up for a tenor."

Tyrrel laughed. "I did once think of that role," he said.

"I fancied that. Whoever taught you to use your voice knew a thing or
two about singing. I'll say that much."

"My mother taught me."

"Never! I wonder now!"

"She was a famous singer. She was a great and a good woman. I owe her
for every excellent quality there is in me."

"No, you don't. You have got your black eyes and hair her way,
I'll warrant that, but your solid make-up, your pluck and grit and
perseverance is the Rawdon in you. Without Rawdon you would very
likely now be strutting about some opera stage, playing at kings and
lovemaking."

"As it is - - "

"As it is, you will be lord consort of Rawdon Manor, with a silver mine
to back you."

"I am sorry about the Manor," said Tyrrel. "I wish the dear old Squire
were alive to meet Ethel and myself."

"To be sure you do. But I dare say that he is glad now to have passed
out of it. Death is a mystery to those left, but I have no doubt it
is satisfying to those who have gone away. He died as he lived, very
properly; walked in the garden that morning as far as the strawberry
beds, and the gardener gave him the first ripe half-dozen in a young
cabbage leaf, and he ate them like a boy, and said they tasted as
if grown in Paradise, then strolled home and asked Joel to shake the
pillows on the sofa in the hall, laid himself down, shuffled his head
easy among them, and fell on sleep. So Death the Deliverer found him. A
good going home! Nothing to fear in it."

"Ethel tells me that Mr. Mostyn is now living at Mostyn Hall."

"Yes, he married that girl he would have sold his soul for and took her
there, four months only after her husband's death. When I was young he
durst not have done it, the Yorkshire gentry would have cut them both."

"I think," said Tyrrel, "American gentlemen of to-day felt much the
same. Will Madison told me that the club cut him as soon as Mrs.
Stanhope left her husband. He went there one day after it was known, and
no one saw him; finally he walked up to McLean, and would have sat down,
but McLean said, 'Your company is not desired, Mr. Mostyn.' Mostyn said
something in re-ply, and McLean answered sternly, 'True, we are none
of us saints, but there are lines the worst of us will not pass; and
if there is any member of this club willing to interfere between a
bridegroom and his bride, I would like to kick him out of it.'
Mostyn struck the table with some exclamation, and McLean continued,
'Especially when the wronged husband is a gentleman of such stainless
character and unsuspecting nature as Basil Stanhope - a clergyman also!
Oh, the thing is beyond palliation entirely!' And he walked away and
left Mostyn."

"Well," said Madam, "if it came to kicking, two could play that game.
Fred is no coward. I don't want to hear another word about them. They
will punish each other without our help. Let them alone. I hope you are
not going to have a crowd at your wedding. The quietest weddings are the
luckiest ones."

"About twenty of our most intimate friends are invited to the church,"
said Ethel. "There will be no reception until we return to New York in
the fall."

"No need of fuss here, there will be enough when you reach Monk-Rawdon.
The village will be garlanded and flagged, the bells ring-ing, and all
your tenants and retainers out to meet you."

"We intend to get into our own home without anyone being aware of it.
Come, Tyrrel, my dressmaker is waiting, I know. It is my wedding gown,
dear Granny, and oh, so lovely!"

"You will not be any smarter than I intend to be, miss. You are shut off
from color. I can outdo you."

"I am sure you can - and will. Here comes father. What can he want?" They
met him at the door, and with a few laughing words left him with Madam.
She looked curiously into his face and asked, "What is it, Edward?"

"I suppose they have told you all the arrangements. They are very
simple. Did they say anything about Ruth?"

"They never named her. They said they were going to Washington for a
week, and then to Rawdon Court. Ruth seems out of it all. Are you going
to turn her adrift, or present her with a few thousand dollars? She has
been a mother to Ethel. Something ought to be done for Ruth Bayard."

"I intend to marry her."

"I thought so."

"She will go to her sister's in Philadelphia for a month 's preparation.
I shall marry her there, and bring her home as my wife. She is a sweet,
gentle, docile woman. She will make me happy."

"Sweet, gentle, docile! Yes, that is the style of wife Rawdon men
prefer. What does Ethel say?"

"She is delighted. It was her idea. I was much pleased with her
thoughtfulness. Any serious break in my life would now be a great
discomfort. You need not look so satirical, mother; I thought of Ruth's
life also."

"Also an afterthought; but Ruth is gentle and docile, and she is
satisfied, and I am satisfied, so then everything is proper and everyone
content. Come for me at ten on Wednesday morning. I shall be ready. No
refreshments, I suppose. I must look after my own breakfast. Won't you
feel a bit shabby, Edward?" And then the look and handclasp between them
turned every word into sweetness and good-will.

And as Ethel regarded her marriage rather as a religious rite than
a social function, she objected to its details becoming in any sense
public, and her desires were to be regarded. Yet everyone may imagine
the white loveliness of the bride, the joy of the bridegroom, the
calm happiness of the family breakfast, and the leisurely, quiet
leave-taking. The whole ceremony was the right note struck at the
beginning of a new life, and they might justly expect it would move
onward in melodious sequence.


Within three weeks after their marriage they arrived at Rawdon Court. It
was on a day and at an hour when no one was looking for them, and
they stepped into the lovely home waiting for them without outside
observation. Hiring a carriage at the railway station, they dismissed it
at the little bridge near the Manor House, and sauntered happily through
the intervening space. The door of the great hall stood open, and the
fire, which had been burning on its big hearth unquenched for more
than three hundred years, was blazing merrily, as if some hand had just
replenished it. On the long table the broad, white beaver hat of the
dead Squire was lying, and his oak walking stick was beside it. No one
had liked to remove them. They remained just as he had put them down,
that last, peaceful morning of his life.

In a few minutes the whole household was aware of their home-coming, and
before the day was over the whole neighborhood. Then there was no way
of avoiding the calls, the congratulations, and the entertainments
that followed, and the old Court was once more the center of a splendid
hospitality. Of course the Tyrrel-Rawdons were first on the scene, and
Ethel was genuinely glad to meet again the good-natured Mrs. Nicholas.
No one could give her better local advice, and Ethel quickly discovered
that the best general social laws require a local interpretation. Her
hands were full, her heart full, she had so many interests to share, so
many people to receive and to visit, and yet when two weeks passed and
Dora neither came nor wrote she was worried and dissatisfied.

"Are the Mostyns at the Hall?" she asked Mrs. Nicholas at last. "I have
been expecting Mrs. Mostyn every day, but she neither comes nor writes
to me."

"I dare say not. Poor little woman! I'll warrant she has been forbid to
do either. If Mostyn thought she wanted to see you, he would watch day
and night to prevent her coming. He's turning out as cruel a man as his
father was, and you need not say a word worse than that."

"Cruel! Oh, dear, how dreadful! Men will drink and cheat and swear, but
a cruel man seems so unnatural, so wicked."

"To be sure, cruelty is the joy of devils. As I said to John Thomas when
we heard about Mostyn's goings-on, we have got rid of the Wicked One,
but the wicked still remain with us."

This conversation having been opened, was naturally prolonged by the
relation of incidents which had come through various sources to Mrs.
Rawdon's ears, all of them indicating an almost incredible system of
petty tyranny and cruel contradiction. Ethel was amazed, and finally
angry at what she heard. Dora was her countrywoman and her friend;
she instantly began to express her sympathy and her intention of
interfering.

"You had better neither meddle nor make in the matter," answered Mrs.
Rawdon. "Our Lucy went to see her, and gave her some advice about
managing Yorkshiremen. And as she was talking Mostyn came in, and was as
rude as he dared to be. Then Lucy asked him 'if he was sick.' She said,
'All the men in the neighborhood, gentle and simple, were talking about
him, and that it wasn't a pleasant thing to be talked about in the
way they were doing it. You must begin to look more like yourself, Mr.
Mostyn; it is good advice I am giving you,' she added; and Mostyn told
her he would look as he felt, whether it was liked or not liked.
And Lucy laughed, and said, 'In that case he would have to go to his
looking-glass for company.' Well, Ethel, there was a time to joy a
devil after Lucy left, and some one of the servants went on their own
responsibility for a doctor; and Mostyn ordered him out of the house,
and he would not go until he saw Mrs. Mostyn; and the little woman was
forced to come and say 'she was quite well,' though she was sobbing all
the time she spoke. Then the doctor told Mostyn what he thought, and
there is a quarrel between them every time they meet."

But Ethel was not deterred by these statements; on the contrary, they
stimulated her interest in her friend. Dora needed her, and the old
feeling of protection stirred her to interference. At any rate, she
could call and see the unhappy woman; and though Tyrrel was opposed to
the visit, and thought it every way unwise, Ethel was resolved to
make it. "You can drive me there," she said, "then go and see Justice
Manningham and call for me in half an hour." And this resolution was
strengthened by a pitiful little note received from Dora just after her
decision. "Mostyn has gone to Thirsk," it said; "for pity's sake come
and see me about two o'clock this afternoon."

The request was promptly answered. As the clock struck two Ethel crossed
the threshold of the home that might have been hers. She shuddered at
the thought. The atmosphere of the house was full of fear and gloom, the
furniture dark and shabby, and she fancied the wraiths of old forgotten
crimes and sorrows were gliding about the sad, dim rooms and stairways.
Dora rose in a passion of tears to welcome her, and because time was
short instantly began her pitiful story.

"You know how he adored me once," she said; "would you believe it,
Ethel, we were not two weeks married when he began to hate me. He
dragged me through Europe in blazing heat and blinding snows when I was
sick and unfit to move. He brought me here in the depth of winter, and
when no one called on us he blamed me; and from morning till night, and
sometimes all night long, he taunts and torments me. After he heard that
you had bought the Manor he lost all control of himself. He will not let
me sleep. He walks the floor hour after hour, declaring he could have
had you and the finest manor in England but for a cat-faced woman
like me. And he blames me for poor Basil's death - says we murdered
him together, and that he sees blood on my hands." And she looked with
terror at her small, thin hands, and held them up as if to protest
against the charge. When she next spoke it was to sob out, "Poor Basil!
He would pity me! He would help me! He would forgive me! He knows now
that Mostyn was, and is, my evil genius."

"Do not cry so bitterly, Dora, it hurts me. Let us think. Is there
nothing you can do?"

"I want to go to mother." Then she drew Ethel's head close to her and
whispered a few words, and Ethel answered, "You poor little one, you
shall go to your mother. Where is she?"

"She will be in London next week, and I must see her. He will not let me
go, but go I must if I die for it. Mrs. John Thomas Rawdon told me what
to do, and I have been following her advice."

Ethel did not ask what it was, but added,

"If Tyrrel and I can help you, send for us. We will come. And, Dora,
do stop weeping, and be brave. Remember you are an American woman. Your
father has often told me how you could ride with Indians or cowboys
and shoot with any miner in Colorado. A bully like Mostyn is always a
coward. Lift up your heart and stand for every one of your rights. You
will find plenty of friends to stand with you." And with the words she
took her by the hands and raised her to her feet, and looked at her
with such a beaming, courageous smile that Dora caught its spirit, and
promised to insist on her claims for rest and sleep.

"When shall I come again, Dora?"

"Not till I send for you. Mother will be in London next Wednesday at
the Savoy. I intend to leave here Wednesday some time, and may need you;
will you come?"

"Surely, both Tyrrel and I."

Then the time being on a dangerous line they parted. But Ethel could
think of nothing and talk of nothing but the frightful change in her
friend, and the unceasing misery which had produced it. Tyrrel shared
all her indignation. The slow torture of any creature was an intolerable
crime in his eyes, but when the brutality was exercised on a woman, and
on a countrywoman, he was roused to the highest pitch of indignation.
When Wednesday arrived he did not leave the house, but waited with
Ethel for the message they confidently expected. It came about five
o'clock - urgent, imperative, entreating, "Come, for God's sake! He will
kill me."

The carriage was ready, and in half an hour they were at Mostyn Hall. No
one answered their summons, but as they stood listening and waiting,
a shrill cry of pain and anger pierced the silence. It was followed by
loud voices and a confused noise - noise of many talking and exclaiming.
Then Tyrrel no longer hesitated. He opened the door easily, and taking
Ethel on his arm, suddenly entered the parlor from which the clamor
came. Dora stood in the center of the room like an enraged pythoness,
her eyes blazing with passion.

"See!" she cried as Tyrrel entered the room - "see!" And she held out
her arm, and pointed to her shoulder from which the lace hung in shreds,
showing the white flesh, red and bruised, where Mostyn had gripped her.
Then Tyrrel turned to Mostyn, who was held tightly in the grasp of
his gardener and coachman, and foaming with a rage that rendered his
explanation almost inarticulate, especially as the three women servants
gathered around their mistress added their railing and invectives to the
general confusion.

"The witch! The cat-faced woman!" he screamed. "She wants to go to her
mother! Wants to play the trick she killed Basil Stanhope with! She
shall not! She shall not! I will kill her first! She is mad! I will
send her to an asylum! She is a little devil! I will send her to hell!
Nothing is bad enough - nothing - - "

"Mr. Mostyn," said Tyrrel.

"Out of my house! What are you doing here? Away! This is my house! Out
of it immediately!"

"This man is insane," said Tyrrel to Dora. "Put on your hat and cloak,
and come home with us."

"I am waiting for Justice Manningham," she answered with a calm
subsidence of passion that angered Mostyn more than her reproaches.
"I have sent for him. He will be here in five minutes now. That
brute" - pointing to Mostyn - "must be kept under guard till I reach my
mother. The magistrate will bring a couple of constables with him."

"This is a plot, then! You hear it! You! You, Tyrrel Rawdon, and you,
Saint Ethel, are in it, all here on time. A plot, I say! Let me loose
that I may strangle the cat-faced creature. Look at her hands, they are
already bloody!"

At these words Dora began to sob passionately, the servants, one and
all, to comfort her, or to abuse Mostyn, and in the height of the hubbub
Justice Manningham entered with two constables behind him.

"Take charge of Mr. Mostyn," he said to them, and as they laid their big
hands on his shoulders the Justice added, "You will consider yourself
under arrest, Mr. Mostyn."

And when nothing else could cow Mostyn, he was cowed by the law. He
sank almost fainting into his chair, and the Justice listened to Dora's
story, and looked indignantly at the brutal man, when she showed him her
torn dress and bruised shoulder. "I entreat your Honor," she said, "to
permit me to go to my mother who is now in London." And he answered
kindly, "You shall go. You are in a condition only a mother can help and
comfort. As soon as I have taken your deposition you shall go."

No one paid any attention to Mostyn's disclaimers and denials. The
Justice saw the state of affairs. Squire Rawdon and Mrs. Rawdon
testified to Dora's ill-usage; the butler, the coachman, the stablemen,
the cook, the housemaids were all eager to bear witness to the same; and
Mrs. Mostyn's appearance was too eloquent a plea for any humane man to
deny her the mother-help she asked for.

Though neighbors and members of the same hunt and clubs, the Justice
took no more friendly notice of Mostyn than he would have taken of any
wife-beating cotton-weaver; and when all lawful preliminaries had been
arranged, he told Mrs. Mostyn that he should not take up Mr. Mostyn's
case till Friday; and in the interval she would have time to put herself
under her mother's care. She thanked him, weeping, and in her old,
pretty way kissed his hands, and "vowed he had saved her life, and
she would forever remember his goodness." Mostyn mocked at her
"play-acting," and was sternly reproved by the Justice; and then Tyrrel
and Ethel took charge of Mrs. Mostyn until she was ready to leave for
London.

She was more nearly ready than they expected. All her trunks were
packed, and the butler promised to take them immediately to the railway
station. In a quarter of an hour she appeared in traveling costume, with
her jewels in a bag, which she carried in her hand. There was a train
for London passing Monk-Rawdon at eight o'clock; and after Justice
Manningham had left, the cook brought in some dinner, which Dora asked
the Rawdons to share with her. It was, perhaps, a necessary but a
painful meal. No one noticed Mostyn. He was enforced to sit still and
watch its progress, which he accompanied with curses it would be a kind
of sacrilege to write down. But no one answered him, and no one noticed
the orders he gave for his own dinner, until Dora rose to leave forever
the house of bondage. Then she said to the cook:

"See that those gentlemanly constables have something good to eat and to
drink, and when they have been served you may give that man" - pointing
to Mostyn - "the dinner of bread and water he has so often prescribed
for me. After my train leaves you are all free to go to your own homes.
Farewell, friends!"

Then Mostyn raved again, and finally tried his old loving terms. "Come


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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe Man Between, an International Romance → online text (page 12 of 14)