Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

The Man Between, an International Romance online

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Court to Nicholas Rawdon, and a cotton-spinner is Lord of the Manor.
Well, well, how are the mighty fallen!"

"I made twenty thousand pounds by the sale. Nicholas Rawdon is
a gentleman, and John Thomas is the most popular man in all the
neighborhood. And, Granny, he has two sons - twins - the handsomest little
chaps you ever saw. No fear of a Rawdon to heir the Manor now."

"Fortune is a baggage. When she is ill to a man she knows no reason. She
sent John Thomas to Parliament, and kept Fred out at a loss, too. She
took the Court from Fred and gave it to John Thomas, and she gives
him two sons about the same time she gives Fred one, and that one she
kidnaps out of his sight and knowledge. Poor Fred!"

"Well, grandmother, it is 'poor Fred's' own doing, and, I assure you,
Fred would have been most unwelcome at the Court. And the squires and
gentry round did not like a woman in the place; they were at a loss what
to do with me. I was no good for dinners and politics and hunting.
I embarrassed them." "Of course you would. They would have to talk
decently and behave politely, and they would not be able to tell their
choicest stories. Your presence would be a bore; but could not Tyrrel
take your place?"

"Granny, Tyrrel was really unhappy in that kind of life. And he was a
foreigner, so was I. You know what Yorkshire people think of foreigners.
They were very courteous, but they were glad to have the Yorkshire
Rawdons in our place. And Tyrrel did not like working with the earth; he
loves machinery and electricity."

"To be sure. When a man has got used to delving for gold or silver,
cutting grass and wheat does seem a slow kind of business."

"And he disliked the shut-up feeling the park gave him. He said we were
in the midst of solitude three miles thick. It made him depressed and

"That is nonsense. I am sure on the Western plains he had solitude sixty
miles thick - often."

"Very likely, but then he had an horizon, even if it were sixty miles
away. And no matter how far he rode, there was always that line where
earth seemed to rise to heaven. But the park was surrounded by a brick
wall fourteen feet high. It had no horizon. You felt as if you were in
a large, green box - at least Tyrrel did. The wall was covered with roses
and ivy, but still it was a boundary you could not pass, and could not
see over. Don't you understand, Granny, how Tyrrel would feel this?"

"I can't say I do. Why didn't he come with you?"

"He had to go to the Customs about our trunks, and there were other
things. He will see you to-morrow. Then we are going to dine with
father, and if you will join us, we will call at six for you. Do,

"Very well, I shall be ready." But after a moment's thought she
continued, "No, I will not go. I am only a mortal woman, and the company
of angels bores me yet."

"Now, Granny, dear."

"I mean what I say. Your father has married such a piece of perfection
that I feel my shortcomings in her presence more than I can bear. But
I'll tell you what, dearie, Tyrrel may come for me Saturday night at
six, and I will have my dinner with you. I want to see the dining-room
of a swell hotel in full dress; and I will wear my violet satin and
white Spanish lace, and look as smart as can be, dear. And Tyrrel may
buy me a bunch of white violets. I am none too old to wear them. Who
knows but I may go to the theater also?"

"Oh, Granny, you are just the dearest young lady I know! Tyrrel will be
as proud as a peacock."

"Well, I am not as young as I might be, but I am a deal younger than I
look. Listen, dearie, I have never FELT old yet! Isn't that a thing to
be grateful for? I don't read much poetry, except it be in the Church
Hymnal, but I cut a verse out of a magazine a year ago which just suits
my idea of life, and, what is still more wonderful, I took the trouble
to learn it. Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote it, and I'll warrant him for
a good, cheerful, trust-in-God man, or he'd never have thought of such
sensible words."

"I am listening, Granny, for the verse."

"Yes, and learn it yourself. It will come in handy some day, when Tyrrel
and you are getting white-haired and handsome, as everyone ought to get
when they have passed their half-century and are facing the light of the
heavenly world:

"At sixty-two life has begun;
At seventy-three begins once more;
Fly swifter as thou near'st the sun,
And brighter shine at eighty-four.
At ninety-five,
Should thou arrive,
Still wait on God, and work and thrive."

Such words as those, Ethel, keep a woman young, and make her right glad
that she was born and thankful that she lives."

"Thank you for them, dear Granny. Now I must run away as fast as I can.
Tyrrel will be wondering what has happened to me."

In this conjecture she was right. Tyrrel was in evening dress, and
walking restlessly about their private parlor. "Ethel," he said,
plaintively, "I have been so uneasy about you."

"I am all right, dearest. I was with grandmother. I shall be ready in
half an hour."

Even if she had been longer, she would have earned the delay, for she
returned to him in pink silk and old Venice point de rose, with a pretty
ermine tippet across her shoulders. It was a joy to see her, a delight
to hear her speak, and she walked as if she heard music. The dining-room
was crowded when they entered, but they made a sensation. Many rose
and came to welcome them home. Others smiled across the busy space and
lifted their wineglass in recognition. The room was electric, sensitive
and excited. It was flooded with a soft light; it was full of the
perfume of flowers. The brilliant coloring of silks and satins, and the
soft miracle of white lace blended with the artistically painted walls
and roof. The aroma of delicate food, the tinkle of crystal, the low
murmur of happy voices, the thrill of sudden laughter, and the delicious
accompaniment of soft, sensuous music completed the charm of the room.
To eat in such surroundings was as far beyond the famous flower-crowned
feasts of Rome and Greece as the east is from the west. It was
impossible to resist its influence. From the point of the senses, the
soul was drinking life out of a cup of overflowing delight. And it was
only natural that in their hearts both Tyrrel and Ethel should make a
swift, though silent, comparison between this feast of sensation and
flow of human attraction and the still, sweet order of the Rawdon
dining-room, with its noiseless service, and its latticed win-dows open
to all the wandering scents and songs of the garden.

Perhaps the latter would have the sweetest and dearest and most abiding
place in their hearts; but just in the present they were enthralled and
excited by the beauty and good comradeship of the social New York dinner
function. Their eyes were shining, their hearts thrilling, they went to
their own apartments hand in hand, buoyant, vivacious, feeling that life
was good and love unchangeable. And the windows being open, they walked
to one and stood looking out upon the avenue. All signs of commerce
had gone from the beautiful street, but it was busy and noisy with the
traffic of pleasure, and the hum of multitudes, the rattle of carriages,
the rush of autos, the light, hurrying footsteps of pleasure-seekers
insistently demanded their sympathy.

"We cannot go out to-night," said Ethel. "We are both more weary than we

"No, we cannot go to-night; but, oh, Ethel, we are in New York again!
Is not that joy enough? I am so happy! I am so happy. We are in New York
again! There is no city like it in all the world. Men live here, they
work here, they enjoy here. How happy, how busy we are going to be,

During these joyful, hopeful expectations he was walking up and down the
room, his eyes dilating with rapture, and Ethel closed the window and
joined him. They magnified their joy, they wondered at it, they were
sure no one before them had ever loved as they loved. "And we are going
to live here, Ethel; going to have our home here! Upon my honor, I
cannot speak the joy I feel, but" - and he went impetuously to the piano
and opened it - "but I can perhaps sing it -

"'There is not a spot in this wide-peopled earth
So dear to the heart as the Land of our Birth;
'Tis the home of our childhood, the beautiful spot
Which Memory retains when all else is forgot.
May the blessing of God ever hallow the sod,
And its valleys and hills by our children be trod!

"'May Columbia long lift her white crest o'er the wave,
The birthplace of science and the home of the brave.
In her cities may peace and prosperity dwell,
And her daughters in virtue and beauty excel.
May the blessing of God ever hallow the sod,
And its valleys and hills by our children be trod.'"

With the patriotic music warbling in his throat he turned to Ethel,
and looked at her as a lover can, and she answered the look; and thus
leaning toward each other in visible beauty and affection their new life
began. Between smiles and kisses they sat speaking, not of the past with
all its love and loveliness, but of the high things calling to them
from the future, the work and duties of life set to great ends both
for public and private good. And as they thus communed Tyrrel took his
wife's hand and slowly turned on her finger the plain gold wedding ring
behind its barrier of guarding gems.

"Ethel," he said tenderly, "what enchantments are in this ring of gold!
What romances I used to weave around it, and, dearest, it has turned
every Romance into Reality."

"And, Tyrrel, it will also turn all our Realities into Romances. Nothing
in our life will ever become common. Love will glorify everything."

"And we shall always love as we love now?"

"We shall love far better, far stronger, far more tenderly."

"Even to the end of our lives, Ethel?"

"Yes, to the very end."


A PAUSE of blissful silence followed this assurance. It was broken by
a little exclamation from Ethel. "Oh, dear," she said, "how selfishly
thoughtless my happiness makes me! I have forgotten to tell you,
until this moment, that I have a letter from Dora. It was sent to
grandmother's care, and I got it this afternoon; also one from Lucy
Rawdon. The two together bring Dora's affairs, I should say, to a
pleasanter termination than we could have hoped for."

"Where is the Enchantress?"

"In Paris at present."

"I expected that answer."

"But listen, she is living the quietest of lives; the most devoted
daughter cannot excel her."

"Is she her own authority for that astonishing statement? Do you believe

"Yes, under the circumstances. Mr. Denning went to Paris for a critical
and painful operation, and Dora is giving all her love and time
toward making his convalescence as pleasant as it can be. In fact, her
description of their life in the pretty chateau they have rented outside
of Paris is quite idyllic. When her father is able to travel they are
going to Algiers for the winter, and will return to New York about next
May. Dora says she never intends to leave America again."

"Where is her husband? Keeping watch on the French chateau?"

"That is over. Mr. Denning persuaded Dora to write a statement of all
the facts concerning the birth of the child. She told her husband the
name under which they traveled, the names of the ship, the captain, and
the ship's doctor, and Mrs. Denning authenticated the statement; but,
oh, what a mean, suspicious creature Mostyn is!"

"What makes you reiterate that description of him?"

"He was quite unable to see any good or kind intent in this paper. He
proved its correctness, and then wrote Mr. Denning a very contemptible

"Which was characteristic enough. What did he say?"

"That the amende honorable was too late; that he supposed Dora wished to
have the divorce proceedings stopped and be reinstated as his wife,
but he desired the whole Denning family to understand that was now
impossible; he was 'fervently, feverishly awaiting his freedom, which
he expected at any hour.' He said it was 'sickening to remember the
weariness of body and soul Dora had given him about a non-existing
child, and though this could never be atoned for, he did think he ought
to be refunded the money Dora's contemptible revenge had cost him."'

"How could he? How could he?"

"Of course Mr. Denning sent him a check, a pretty large one, I dare say.
And I suppose he has his freedom by this time, unless he has married

"He will never marry again."

"Indeed, that is the strange part of the story. It was because he
wanted to marry again that he was 'fervently, feverishly awaiting his

"I can hardly believe it, Ethel. What does Dora say?"

"I have the news from Lucy. She says when Mostyn was ignored by everyone
in the neighborhood, one woman stood up for him almost passionately. Do
you remember Miss Sadler?"

"That remarkable governess of the Surreys? Why, Ethel, she is the very
ugliest woman I ever saw."

"She is so ugly that she is fascinating. If you see her one minute you
can never forget her, and she is brains to her finger tips. She ruled
everyone at Surrey House. She was Lord Surrey's secretary and Lady
Surrey's adviser. She educated the children, and they adored her; she
ruled the servants, and they obeyed her with fear and trembling. Nothing
was done in Surrey House without her approval. And if her face was not
handsome, she had a noble presence and a manner that was irresistible."

"And she took Mostyn's part?"

"With enthusiasm. She abused Dora individually, and American women
generally. She pitied Mr. Mostyn, and made others do so; and when she
perceived there would be but a shabby and tardy restoration for him
socially, she advised him to shake off the dust of his feet from
Monk-Rawdon, and begin life in some more civilized place. And in order
that he might do so, she induced Lord Surrey to get him a very excellent
civil appointment in Calcutta."

"Then he is going to India?"

"He is probably now on the way there. He sold the Mostyn estate - - "

"I can hardly believe it."

"He sold it to John Thomas Rawdon. John Thomas told me it belonged to
Rawdon until the middle of the seventeenth century, and he meant to have
it back. He has got it."

"Miss Sadler must be a witch."

"She is a sensible, practical woman, who knows how to manage men.
She has soothed Mostyn's wounded pride with appreciative flattery and
stimulated his ambition. She has promised him great things in India, and
she will see that he gets them."

"He must be completely under her control."

"She will never let him call his soul his own, but she will manage
his affairs to perfection. And Dora is forever rid of that wretched
influence. The man can never again come between her and her love; never
again come between her and happiness. There will be the circumference of
the world as a barrier."

"There will be Jane Sadler as a barrier. She will be sufficient. The
Woman Between will annihilate The Man Between. Dora is now safe. What
will she do with herself?"

"She will come back to New York and be a social power. She is young,
beautiful, rich, and her father has tremendous financial influence.
Social affairs are ruled by finance. I should not wonder to see her in
St. Jude's, a devotee and eminent for good works."

"And if Basil Stanhope should return?"

"Poor Basil - he is dead."

"How do you know that?"

"What DO you mean, Tyrrel?"

"Are you sure Basil is dead? What proof have you?"

"You must be dreaming! Of course he is dead! His friend came and told me
so - told me everything."

"Is that all?"

"There were notices in the papers."

"Is that all?"

"Mr. Denning must have known it when he stopped divorce proceedings."

"Doubtless he believed it; he wished to do so."

"Tyrrel, tell me what you mean."

"I always wondered about his death rather than believed in it. Basil had
a consuming sense of honor and affection for the Church and its sacred
offices. He would have died willingly rather than drag them into
the mire of a divorce court. When the fear became certainty he
disappeared - really died to all his previous life."

"But I cannot conceive of Basil lying for any purpose."

"He disappeared. His family and friends took on themselves the means
they thought most likely to make that disappearance a finality."

"Have you heard anything, seen anything?"

"One night just before I left the West a traveler asked me for a night's
lodging. He had been prospecting in British America in the region of
the Klondike, and was full of incidental conversation. Among many other
things he told me of a wonderful sermon he had heard from a young man in
a large mining camp. I did not give the story any attention at the time,
but after he had gone away it came to me like a flash of light that the
preacher was Basil Stanhope."

"Oh, Tyrrel, if it was - if it was! What a beautiful dream! But it is
only a dream. If it could be true, would he forgive Dora? Would he come
back to her?"

"No!" Tyrrel's voice was positive and even stern. "No, he could never
come back to her. She might go to him. She left him without any reason.
I do not think he would care to see her again."

"I would say no more, Tyrrel. I do not think as you do. It is a dream,
a fancy, just an imagination. But if it were true, Basil would wish no
pilgrimage of abasement. He would say to her, 'Dear one, HUSH! Love is
here, travel-stained, sore and weary, but so happy to welcome you!' And
he would open all his great, sweet heart to her. May I tell Dora some
day what you have thought and said? It will be something good for her to
dream about."

"Do you think she cares? Did she ever love him?"

"He was her first love. She loved him once with all her heart. If it
would be right - safe, I mean, to tell Dora - - "

"On this subject there is so much NOT to say. I would never speak of

"It may be a truth"

"Then it is among those truths that should be held back, and it is
likely only a trick of my imagination, a supposition, a fancy."

"A miracle! And of two miracles I prefer the least, and that is that
Basil is dead. Your young preacher is a dream; and, oh, Tyrrel, I am
so tired! It has been such a long, long, happy day! I want to sleep. My
eyes are shutting as I talk to you. Such a long, long, happy day!"

"And so many long, happy days to come, dearest."

"So many," she answered, as she took Tyrrel's hand, and lifted her fur
and fan and gloves. "What were those lines we read together the night
before we were married? I forget, I am so tired. I know that life should
have many a hope and aim, duties enough, and little cares, and now be
quiet, and now astir, till God's hand beckoned us unawares - - "

The rest was inaudible. But between that long, happy day and the present
time there has been an arc of life large enough to place the union of
Tyrrel and Ethel Rawdon among those blessed bridals that are

"The best of life's romances."

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