Copyright
Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

The Man Between, an International Romance online

. (page 13 of 14)
Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe Man Between, an International Romance → online text (page 13 of 14)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


back to me, Dora," he called frantically. "Come back, dearest, sweetest
Dora, I will be your lover forever. I will never say another cross word
to you."

But Dora heard not and saw not. She left the room without a glance at
the man sitting cowering between the officers, and blubbering with shame
and passion and the sense of total loss. In a few minutes he heard the
Rawdon carriage drive to the door. Tyrrel and Ethel assisted Dora into
it, and the party drove at once to the railway station. They were just
able to catch the London train. The butler came up to report all the
trunks safely forwarded, and Dora dropped gold into his hand, and
bade him clear the house of servants as soon as the morning broke.
Fortunately there was no time for last words and promises; the train
began to move, and Tyrrel and Ethel, after watching Dora's white face
glide into the darkness, turned silently away. That depression which
so often follows the lifting of burdens not intended for our shoulders
weighed on their hearts and made speech difficult. Tyrrel was especially
affected by it. A quick feeling of something like sympathy for Mostyn
would not be reasoned away, and he drew Ethel close within his arm, and
gave the coachman an order to drive home as quickly as possible, for
twilight was already becoming night, and under the trees the darkness
felt oppressive.

The little fire on the hearth and their belated dinner somewhat relieved
the tension; but it was not until they had retired to a small parlor,
and Tyrrel had smoked a cigar, that the tragedy of the evening became a
possible topic of conversation. Tyrrel opened the subject by a question
as to whether "he ought to have gone with Dora to London."

"Dora opposed the idea strongly when I named it to her," answered Ethel.
"She said it would give opportunities for Mostyn to slander both herself
and you, and I think she was correct. Every way she was best alone."

"Perhaps, but I feel as if I ought to have gone, as if I had been
something less than a gentleman; in fact, as if I had been very
un-gentle."

"There is no need," answered Ethel a little coldly.

"It is a terrible position for Mostyn."

"He deserves it."

"He is so sensitive about public opinion."

"In that case he should behave decently in private."

Then Tyrrel lit another cigar, and there was another silence, which
Ethel occupied in irritating thoughts of Dora's unfortunate fatality in
trouble-making. She sat at a little table standing between herself and
Tyrrel. It held his smoking utensils, and after awhile she pushed them
aside, and let the splendid rings which adorned her hand fall into the
cleared space. Tyrrel watched her a few moments, and then asked, "What
are you doing, Ethel, my dear?"

She looked up with a smile, and then down at the hand she had laid open
upon the table. "I am looking at the Ring of all Rings. See, Tyrrel, it
is but a little band of gold, and yet it gave me more than all the gems
of earth could buy. Rubies and opals and sapphires are only its guard.
The simple wedding ring is the ring of great price. It is the loveliest
ornament a happy woman can wear."

Tyrrel took her hand and kissed it, and kissed the golden band, and then
answered, "Truly an ornament if a happy wife wears it; but oh, Ethel,
what is it when it binds a woman to such misery as Dora has just fled
from?"

"Then it is a fetter, and a woman who has a particle of self-respect
will break it. The Ring of all Rings!" she ejaculated again, as she
lifted the rubies and opals, and slowly but smilingly encircled the
little gold band.

"Let us try now to forget that sorrowful woman," said Tyrrel. "She will
be with her mother in a few hours. Mother-love can cure all griefs. It
never fails. It never blames. It never grows weary. It is always young
and warm and true. Dora will be comforted. Let us forget; we can do no
more."

For a couple of days this was possible, but then came Mrs. Nicholas
Rawdon, and the subject was perforce opened. "It was a bad case," she
said, "but it is being settled as quickly and as quietly as possible. I
believe the man has entered into some sort of recognizance to keep the
peace, and has disappeared. No one will look for him. The gentry are
against pulling one another down in any way, and this affair they
don't want talked about. Being all of them married men, it isn't to be
expected, is it? Justice Manningham was very sorry for the little
lady, but he said also 'it was a bad precedent, and ought not to be
discussed.' And Squire Bentley said, 'If English gentlemen would marry
American women, they must put up with American women's ways,' and so on.
None of them think it prudent to approve Mrs. Mostyn's course. But they
won't get off as easy as they think. The women are standing up for her.
Did you ever hear anything like that? And I'll warrant some husbands are
none so easy in their minds, as my Nicholas said, 'Mrs. Mostyn had sown
seed that would be seen and heard tell of for many a long day.' Our
Lucy, I suspect, had more to do with the move than she will confess. She
got a lot of new, queer notions at college, and I do believe in my heart
she set the poor woman up to the business. John Thomas, of course, says
not a word, but he looks at Lucy in a very proud kind of way; and I'll
be bound he has got an object lesson he'll remember as long as he lives.
So has Nicholas, though he bluffs more than a little as to what he'd
do with a wife that got a running-away notion into her head. Bless you,
dear, they are all formulating their laws on the subject, and their
wives are smiling queerly at them, and holding their heads a bit higher
than usual. I've been doing it myself, so I know how they feel."

Thus, though very little was said in the newspapers about the affair,
the notoriety Mostyn dreaded was complete and thorough. It was the
private topic of conversation in every household. Men talked it over in
all the places where men met, and women hired the old Mostyn servants in
order to get the very surest and latest story of the poor wife's wrongs,
and then compared reports and even discussed the circumstances in their
own particular clubs.

At the Court, Tyrrel and Ethel tried to forget, and their own interests
were so many and so important that they usually succeeded; especially
after a few lines from Mrs. Denning assured them of Dora's safety and
comfort. And for many weeks the busy life of the Manor sufficed; there
was the hay to cut in the meadow lands, and after it the wheat fields
to harvest. The stables, the kennels, the farms and timber, the park and
the garden kept Tyrrel constantly busy. And to these duties were added
the social ones, the dining and dancing and entertaining, the horse
racing, the regattas, and the enthusiasm which automobiling in its first
fever engenders.

And yet there were times when Tyrrel looked bored, and when nothing but
Squire Percival's organ or Ethel's piano seemed to exorcise the unrest
and ennui that could not be hid. Ethel watched these moods with a
wise and kind curiosity, and in the beginning of September, when they
perceptibly increased, she asked one day, "Are you happy, Tyrrel? Quite
happy?"

"I am having a splendid holiday," he answered, "but - - "

"But what, dear?"

"One could not turn life into a long holiday - that would be harder than
the hardest work."

She answered "Yes," and as soon as she was alone fell to thinking, and
in the midst of her meditation Mrs. Nicholas Rawdon entered in a whirl
of tempestuous delight.

"What do you think?" she asked between laughing and crying. "Whatever do
you think? Our Lucy had twins yesterday, two fine boys as ever was. And
I wish you could see their grandfather and their father. They are out of
themselves with joy. They stand hour after hour beside the two cradles,
looking at the little fellows, and they nearly came to words this
morning about their names."

"I am so delighted!" cried Ethel. "And what are you going to call them?"

"One is an hour older than the other, and John Thomas wanted them called
Percival and Nicholas. But my Nicholas wanted the eldest called after
himself, and he said so plain enough. And John Thomas said 'he could
surely name his own sons; and then Nicholas told him to remember he
wouldn't have been here to have any sons at all but for his father.' And
just then I came into the room to have a look at the little lads, and
when I heard what they were fratching about, I told them it was none of
their business, that Lucy had the right to name the children, and they
would just have to put up with the names she gave them."

"And has Lucy named them?"

"To be sure. I went right away to her and explained the dilemma, and
I said, 'Now, Lucy, it is your place to settle this question.' And she
answered in her positive little way, 'You tell father the eldest is to
be called Nicholas, and tell John Thomas the youngest is to be called
John Thomas. I can manage two of that name very well. And say that
I won't have any more disputing about names, the boys are as good as
christened already.' And of course when Lucy said that we all knew it
was settled. And I'm glad the eldest is Nicholas. He is a fine, sturdy
little Yorkshireman, bawling out already for what he wants, and flying
into a temper if he doesn't get it as soon as he wants it. Dearie me,
Ethel, I am a proud woman this morning. And Nicholas is going to give
all the hands a holiday, and a trip up to Ambleside on Saturday, though
John Thomas is very much against it."

"Why is he against it?"

"He says they will be holding a meeting on Monday night to try and find
out what Old Nicholas is up to, and that if he doesn't give them the
same treat on the same date next year, they'll hold an indignation
meeting about being swindled out of their rights. And I'll pledge you my
word John Thomas knows the men he's talking about. However, Nicholas
is close with his money, and it will do him good happen to lose a bit.
Blood-letting is healthy for the body, and perhaps gold-letting may help
the soul more than we think for."

This news stimulated Ethel's thinking, and when she also stood beside
the two cradles, and the little Nicholas opened his big blue eyes and
began to "bawl for what he wanted," a certain idea took fast hold of
her, and she nursed it silently for the next month, watch-ing Tyrrel at
the same time. It was near October, however, before she found the proper
opportunity for speaking. There had been a long letter from the Judge.
It said Ruth and he were home again after a wonderful trip over the
Northern Pacific road. He wrote with enthusiasm of the country and its
opportunities, and of the big cities they had visited on their return
from the Pacific coast. Every word was alive, the magnitude and stir of
traffic and wrestling humanity seemed to rustle the paper. He described
New York as overflowing with business. His own plans, the plans of
others, the jar of politics, the thrill of music and the drama - all the
multitudinous vitality that crowded the streets and filled the air, even
to the roofs of the twenty-story buildings, contributed to the potent
exhilaration of the letter.

"Great George!" exclaimed Tyrrel. "That is life! That is living! I wish
we were back in America!"

"So do I, Tyrrel."

"I am so glad. When shall we go? It is now the twenty-eighth of
September."

"Are you very weary of Rawdon Court"'

"Yes. If a man could live for the sake of eating and sleeping and having
a pleasant time, why Rawdon Court would be a heaven to him; but if he
wants to DO something with his life, he would be most unhappy here."

"And you want to do something?"

"You would not have loved a man who did not want TO DO. We have been
here four months. Think of it! If I take four months out of every year
for twenty years, I shall lose, with travel, about seven years of
my life, and the other things to be dropped with them may be of
incalculable value."

"I see, Tyrrel. I am not bound in any way to keep Rawdon Court. I can
sell it to-morrow."

"But you would be grieved to do so?"

"Not at all. Being a lady of the Manor does not flatter me. The other
squires would rather have a good man in my place."

"Why did you buy it?"

"As I have told you, to keep Mostyn out, and to keep a Rawdon here. But
Nicholas Rawdon craves the place, and will pay well for his desire. It
cost me eighty thousand pounds. He told father he would gladly give me
one hundred thousand pounds whenever I was tired of my bargain. I will
take the hundred thousand pounds to-morrow. There would then be four
good heirs to Rawdon on the place."

Here the conversation was interrupted by Mrs. Nicholas, who came to
invite them to the christening feast of the twins. Tyrrel soon left the
ladies together, and Ethel at once opened the desired conversation.

"I am afraid we may have left the Court before the christening," she
said. "Mr. Rawdon is very unhappy here. He is really homesick."

"But this is his home, isn't it? And a very fine one."

"He cannot feel it so. He has large interests in America. I doubt if
I ever induce him to come here again. You see, this visit has been our
marriage trip."

"And you won't live here! I never heard the line. What will you do with
the Court? It will be badly used if it is left to servants seven or
eight months every year."

"I suppose I must sell it. I see no - - "

"If you only would let Nicholas buy it. You might be sure then it would
be well cared for, and the little lads growing up in it, who would
finally heir it. Oh, Ethel, if you would think of Nicholas first. He
would honor the place and be an honor to it."

Out of this conversation the outcome was as satisfactory as it was
certain, and within two weeks Nicholas Rawdon was Squire of Rawdon
Manor, and possessor of the famous old Manor House. Then there followed
a busy two weeks for Tyrrel, who had the superintendence of the packing,
which was no light business. For though Ethel would not denude the Court
of its ancient furniture and ornaments, there were many things belonging
to the personal estate of the late Squire which had been given to her by
his will, and could not be left behind. But by the end of October cases
and trunks were all sent off to the steamship in which their passage was
taken; and the Rawdon estate, which had played such a momentous part in
Ethel's life having finished its mission, had no further influence, and
without regret passed out of her physical life forever.

Indeed, their willingness to resign all claims to the old home was a
marvel to both Tyrrel and Ethel. On their last afternoon there they
walked through the garden, and stood under the plane tree where
their vows of love had been pledged, and smiled and wondered at their
indifference. The beauteous glamor of first love was gone as completely
as the flowers and scents and songs that had then filled the charming
place. But amid the sweet decay of these things they once more clasped
hands, looking with supreme confidence into each other's eyes. All that
had then been promised was now certain; and with an affection infinitely
sweeter and surer, Tyrrel drew Ethel to his heart, and on her lips
kissed the tenderest, proudest words a woman hears, "My dear wife!"

This visit was their last adieu, all the rest had been said, and early
the next morning they left Monk-Rawdon station as quietly as they had
arrived. During their short reign at Rawdon Court they had been very
popular, and perhaps their resignation was equally so. After all, they
were foreigners, and Nicholas Rawdon was Yorkshire, root and branch.

"Nice young people," said Justice Manningham at a hunt dinner, "but
our ways are not their ways, nor like to be. The young man was born a
fighter, and there are neither bears nor Indians here for him to
fight; and our politics are Greek to him; and the lady, very sweet and
beautiful, but full of new ideas - ideas not suitable for women, and we
do not wish our women changed."

"Good enough as they are," mumbled Squire Oakes.

"Nicest Americans I ever met," added Earl Danvers, "but Nicholas Rawdon
will be better at Rawdon Court." To which statement there was a general
assent, and then the subject was considered settled.

In the meantime Tyrrel and Ethel had reached London and gone to the
Metropole Hotel; because, as Ethel said, no one knew where Dora was; but
if in England, she was likely to be at the Savoy. They were to be two
days in London. Tyrrel had banking and other business to fully occupy
the time, and Ethel remembered she had some shopping to do, a thing any
woman would discover if she found herself in the neighborhood of Regent
Street and Piccadilly. On the afternoon of the second day this duty was
finished, and she returned to her hotel satisfied but a little weary. As
she was going up the steps she noticed a woman coming slowly down them.
It was Dora Mostyn. They met with great enthusiasm on Dora's part, and
she turned back and went with Ethel to her room.

Ethel looked at her with astonishment. She was not like any Dora she had
previously seen. Her beauty had developed wondrously, she had grown much
taller, and her childish manner had been superseded by a carriage and
air of superb grace and dignity. She had now a fine color, and her eyes
were darker, softer, and more dreamy than ever. "Take off your hat,
Dora," said Ethel, "and tell me what has happened. You are positively
splendid. Where is Mr. Mostyn?"

"I neither know nor care. He is tramping round the world after me, and
I intend to keep him at it. But I forget. I must tell you how THAT has
come about."

"We heard from Mrs. Denning. She said she had received you safely."

"My dear mother! She met me like an angel; comforted and cared for
me, never said one word of blame, only kissed and pitied me. We talked
things over, and she advised me to go to New York. So we took three
passages under the names of Mrs. John Gifford, Miss Gifford, and Miss
Diana Gifford. Miss Diana was my maid, but mother thought a party of
three would throw Mostyn off our track."

"A very good idea."

"We sailed at once. On the second day out I had a son. The poor little
fellow died in a few hours, and was buried at sea. But his birth has
given me the power to repay to Fred Mostyn some of the misery he caused
me."

"How so? I do not see."

"Oh, you must see, if you will only remember how crazy Englishmen are
about their sons. Daughters don't count, you know, but a son carries
the property in the family name. He is its representative for the next
generation. As I lay suffering and weeping, a fine scheme of revenge
came clearly to me. Listen! Soon after we got home mother cabled
Mostyn's lawyer that 'Mrs. Mostyn had had a son.' Nothing was said of
the boy's death. Almost immediately I was notified that Mr. Mostyn would
insist on the surrender of the child to his care. I took no notice of
the letters. Then he sent his lawyer to claim the child and a woman to
take care of it. I laughed them to scorn, and defied them to find
the child. After them came Mostyn himself. He interviewed doctors,
overlooked baptismal registers, advertised far and wide, bribed our
servants, bearded father in his office, abused Bryce on the avenue,
waylaid me in all my usual resorts, and bombarded me with letters, but
he knows no more yet than the cable told him. And the man is becoming a
monomaniac about HIS SON."

"Are you doing right, Dora?"

"If you only knew how he had tortured me! Father and mother think he
deserves all I can do to him. Anyway, he will have it to bear. If he
goes to the asylum he threatened me with, I shall be barely satisfied.
The 'cat-faced woman' is getting her innings now."

"Have you never spoken to him or written to him? Surely"

"He caught me one day as I came out of our house, and said, 'Madam,
where is my son?' And I answered, 'You have no son. The child WAS MINE.
You shall never see his face in this world. I have taken good care of
that.'

"'I will find him some day,' he said, and I laughed at him, and
answered, 'He is too cunningly hid. Do you think I would let the boy
know he had such a father as you? No, indeed. Not unless there was
property for the disgrace.' I touched him on the raw in that remark,
and then I got into my carriage and told the coachman to drive quickly.
Mostyn attempted to follow me, but the whip lashing the horses was in
the way." And Dora laughed, and the laugh was cruel and mocking and full
of meaning.

"Dora, how can you? How can you find pleasure in such revenges?"

"I am having the greatest satisfaction of my life. And I am only
beginning the just retribution, for my beauty is enthralling the man
again, and he is on the road to a mad jealousy of me."

"Why don't you get a divorce? This is a case for that remedy. He might
then marry again, and you also."

"Even so, I should still torment him. If he had sons he would be
miserable in the thought that his unknown son might, on his death, take
from them the precious Mostyn estate, and that wretched, old, haunted
house of his. I am binding him to misery on every hand."

"Is Mrs. Denning here with you?"

"Both my father and mother are with me. Father is going to take a year's
rest, and we shall visit Berlin, Vienna, Rome, Paris or wherever our
fancy leads us."

"And Mr. Mostyn?"

"He can follow me round, and see nobles and princes and kings pay court
to the beauty of the 'cat-faced woman.' I shall never notice him, never
speak to him; but you need not look so suspicious, Ethel. Neither
by word nor deed will I break a single convention of the strictest
respectability."

"Mr. Mostyn ought to give you your freedom."

"I have given freedom to myself. I have already divorced him. When they
brought my dead baby for me to kiss, I slipped into its little hand
the ring that made me his mother. They went to the bottom of the sea
together. As for ever marrying again, not in this life. I have had
enough of it. My first husband was the sweetest saint out of heaven,
and my second was some mean little demon that had sneaked his way out of
hell; and I found both insupportable." She lifted her hat as she spoke,
and began to pin it on her beautifully dressed hair. "Have no fear for
me," she continued. "I am sure Basil watches over me. Some day I shall
be good, and he will be happy." Then, hand in hand, they walked to the
door together, and there were tears in both voices as they softly said
"Good-by."



CHAPTER XII


A WEEK after this interview Tyrrel and Ethel were in New York. They
landed early in the morning, but the Judge and Ruth were on the pier to
meet them; and they breakfasted together at the fashionable hotel,
where an elegant suite had been reserved for the residence of the
Tyrrel-Rawdons until they had perfected their plans for the future.
Tyrrel was boyishly excited, but Ethel's interest could not leave
her father and his new wife. These two had lived in the same home for
fifteen years, and then they had married each other, and both of them
looked fifteen years younger. The Judge was actually merry, and Ruth, in
spite of her supposed "docility," had quite reversed the situation. It
was the Judge who was now docile, and even admiringly obedient to all
Ruth's wifely advices and admonitions.

The breakfast was a talkative, tardy one, but at length the Judge went
to his office and Tyrrel had to go to the Custom House. Ethel was eager
to see her grandmother, and she was sure the dear old lady was anxiously
waiting her arrival. And Ruth was just as anxious for Ethel to visit her
renovated home. She had the young wife's delight in its beauty, and she
wanted Ethel to admire it with her.

"We will dine with you to-morrow, Ruth," said Ethel, "and I will come
very early and see all the improvements. I feel sure the house is
lovely, and I am glad father made you such a pretty nest. Nothing is too
pretty for you, Ruth." And there was no insincerity in this compliment.
These two women knew and loved and trusted each other without a shadow
of doubt or variableness.

So Ruth went to her home, and Ethel hastened to Gramercy Park. Madam was
eagerly watching for her arrival.

"I have been impatient for a whole hour, all in a quiver, dearie," she
cried. "It is nearly noon."

"I have been impatient also, Granny, but father and Ruth met us at the
pier and stayed to breakfast with us, and you know how men talk and
talk."

"Ruth and father down at the pier! How you dream!"

"They were really there. And they do seem so happy, grandmother. They
are so much in love with each other."

"I dare say. There are no fools like old fools. So you have sold the


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 13

Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe Man Between, an International Romance → online text (page 13 of 14)