Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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been its mistress."

"I never heard of any Mostyn woman who would not have been far happier
away from Rawdon Court. It was a Calvary to them all. There was little
Nannie Mostyn, who died with her first baby because Squire Anthony
struck her in a drunken passion; and the proud Alethia Mostyn, who
suffered twenty years' martyrdom from Squire John; and Sara, who took
thirty thousand pounds to Squire Hubert, to fling away at the green
table; and Harriet, who was made by her husband, Squire Humphrey, to
jump a fence when out hunting with him, and was brought home crippled
and scarred for life - a lovely girl of twenty who went through agonies
for eleven years without aught of love and help, and died alone while he
was following a fox; and there was pretty Barbara Mostyn - - "

"Come, come, mother. I did not call here this morning to hear the
Rawdons abused, and you forget your own marriage. It was a happy one, I
am sure. One Rawdon, at least, must be excepted; and I think I treated
my wife as a good husband ought to treat a wife."

"Not you! You treated Mary very badly."

"Mother, not even from you - - "

"I'll say it again. The little girl was dying for a year or more, and
you were so busy making money you never saw it. If she said or looked
a little complaint, you moved restless-like and told her 'she moped too
much.' As the end came I spoke to you, and you pooh-poohed all I said.
She went suddenly, I know, to most people, but she knew it was her last
day, and she longed so to see you, that I sent a servant to hurry you
home, but she died before you could make up your mind to leave your
'cases.' She and I were alone when she whispered her last message for
you - a loving one, too."

"Mother! Mother! Why recall that bitter day? I did not think - I swear I
did not think - - "

"Never mind swearing. I was just reminding you that the Rawdons have
not been the finest specimens of good husbands. They make landlords, and
judges, and soldiers, and even loom-lords of a very respectable sort;
but husbands! Lord help their poor wives! So you see, as a Mostyn woman,
I have no special interest in Rawdon Court."

"You would not like it to go out of the family?"

"I should not worry myself if it did."

"I suppose you know Fred Mostyn has a mortgage on it that the present
Squire is unable to lift."

"Aye, Fred told me he had eighty thousand pounds on the old place. I
told him he was a fool to put his money on it."

"One of the finest manors and manor-houses in England, mother."

"I have seen it. I was born and brought up near enough to it, I think."

"Eighty thousand pounds is a bagatelle for the place; yet if Fred forces
a sale, it may go for that, or even less. I can't bear to think of it."

"Why not buy it yourself?"

"I would lift the mortgage to-morrow if I had the means. I have not at

"Well, I am in the same box. You have just spoken as if the Mostyns
and Rawdons had an equal interest in Rawdon Court. Very well, then, it
cannot be far wrong for Fred Mostyn to have it. Many a Mostyn has gone
there as wife and slave. I would dearly like to see one Mostyn go as

"I shall get no help from you, then, I understand that."

"I'm Mostyn by birth, I'm only Rawdon by, marriage. The birth-band ties
me fast to my family."

"Good morning, mother. You have failed me for the first time in your

"If the money had been for you, Edward, or yours - - "

"It is - good-by."

She called him back peremptorily, and he returned and stood at the open

"Why don't you ask Ethel?"

"I did not think I had the right, mother."

"More right to ask her than I. See what she says. She's Rawdon, every
inch of her."

"Perhaps I may. Of course, I can sell securities, but it would be at a
sacrifice a great sacrifice at present."

"Ethel has the cash; and, as I said, she is Rawdon - I'm not."

"I wish my father were alive."

"He wouldn't move me - you needn't think that. What I have said to you I
would have said to him. Speak to Ethel. I'll be bound she'll listen if
Rawdon calls her."

"I don't like to speak to Ethel."

"It isn't what you like to do, it's what you find you'll have to do,
that carries the day; and a good thing, too, considering."

"Good morning, again. You are not quite yourself, I think."

"Well, I didn't sleep last night, so there's no wonder if I'm a bit
cross this morning. But if I lose my temper, I keep my understanding."

She was really cross by this time. Her son had put her in a position she
did not like to assume. No love for Rawdon Court was in her heart. She
would rather have advanced the money to buy an American estate. She
had been little pleased at Fred's mortgage on the old place, but to
the American Rawdons she felt it would prove a white elephant; and
the appeal to Ethel was advised because she thought it would amount to
nothing. In the first place, the Judge had the strictest idea of the
sacredness of the charge committed to him as guardian of his daughter's
fortune. In the second, Ethel inherited from her Yorkshire ancestry an
intense sense of the value and obligations of money. She was an ardent
American, and not likely to spend it on an old English manor; and,
furthermore, Madam's penetration had discovered a growing dislike in her
granddaughter for Fred Mostyn.

"She'd never abide him for a lifelong neighbor," the old lady decided.
"It is the Rawdon pride in her. The Rawdon men have condescended to go
to Mostyn for wives many and many a time, but never once have the Mostyn
men married a Rawdon girl - proud, set-up women, as far as I remember;
and Ethel has a way with her just like them. Fred is good enough and
nice enough for any girl, and I wonder what is the matter with him!
It is a week and more since he was here, and then he wasn't a bit like

At this moment the bell rang and she heard Fred's voice inquiring "if
Madam was at home." Instantly she divined the motive of his call. The
young man had come to the conclusion the Judge would try to influence
his mother, and before meeting him in the afternoon he wished to have
some idea of the trend matters were likely to take. His policy - cunning,
Madam called it - did not please her. She immediately assured herself
that "she wouldn't go against her own flesh and blood for anyone," and
his wan face and general air of wretchedness further antagonized her.
She asked him fretfully "what he had been doing to himself, for," she
added, "it's mainly what we do to ourselves that makes us sick. Was it
that everlasting wedding of the Denning girl?"

He flushed angrily, but answered with much of the same desire to annoy,
"I suppose it was. I felt it very much. Dora was the loveliest girl in
the city. There are none left like her."

"It will be a good thing for New York if that is the case. I'm not one
that wants the city to myself, but I can spare Dora STANHOPE, and feel
the better for it."

"The most beautiful of God's creatures!"

"You've surely lost your sight or your judgment, Fred. She is just a
dusky-skinned girl, with big, brown eyes. You can pick her sort up by
the thousand in any large city. And a wandering-hearted, giddy creature,
too, that will spread as she goes, no doubt. I'm sorry for Basil
Stanhope, he didn't deserve such a fate."

"Indeed, he did not! It is beyond measure too good for him."

"I've always heard that affliction is the surest way to heaven. Dora
will lead him that road, and it will be more sure than pleasant. Poor
fellow! He'll soon be as ready to curse his wedding-day as Job was to
curse his birthday. A costly wife she will be to keep, and misery in the
keeping of her. But if you came to talk to me about Dora STANHOPE, I'll
cease talking, for I don't find it any great entertainment."

"I came to talk to you about Squire Rawdon."

"What about the Squire? Keep it in your mind that he and I were
sweethearts when we were children. I haven't forgotten that fact."

"You know Rawdon Court is mortgaged to me?"

"I've heard you say so - more than once."

"I intend to foreclose the mortgage in September. I find that I can
get twice yes, three times - the interest for my money in American

"How do you know they are securities?"

"Bryce Denning has put me up to several good things."

"Well, if you think good things can come that road, you are a bigger
fool than I ever thought you."

"Fool! Madam, I allow no one to call me a fool, especially without

"Reason, indeed! What reason was there in your dillydallying after Dora
Denning when she was engaged, and then making yourself like a ghost for
her after she is married? As for the good things Bryce Denning offers
you in exchange for a grand English manor, take them, and then if I
called you not fool before, I will call you fool in your teeth twice
over, and much too good for you! Aye, I could call you a worse name when
I think of the old Squire - he's two years older than I am - being turned
out of his lifelong home. Where is he to go to?"

"If I buy the place, for of course it will have to be sold, he is
welcome to remain at Rawdon Court."

"And he would deserve to do it if he were that low-minded; but if I know
Squire Percival, he will go to the poor-house first. Fred, you would
surely scorn such a dirty thing as selling the old man out of house and

"I want my money, or else I want Rawdon Manor."

"And I have no objections either to your wanting it or having it, but,
for goodness' sake, wait until death gives you a decent warrant for
buying it."

"I am afraid to delay. The Squire has been very cool with me lately, and
my agent tells me the Tyrrel-Rawdons have been visiting him, also that
he has asked a great many questions about the Judge and Ethel. He is
evidently trying to prevent me getting possession, and I know that old
Nicholas Rawdon would give his eyelids to own Rawdon Court. As to the
Judge - - "

"My son wants none of it. You can make your mind easy on that score."

"I think I behaved very decently, though, of course, no one gives me
credit for it; for as soon as I saw I must foreclose in order to get my
own I thought at once of Ethel. It seemed to me that if we could love
each other the money claims of Mostyn and the inherited claims of Rawdon
would both be satisfied. Unfortunately, I found that I could not love
Ethel as a wife should be loved."

"And I can tell you, Fred, that Ethel never could have loved you as a
husband should be loved. She was a good deal disappointed in you from
the very first."

"I thought I made a favorable impression on her."

"In a way. She said you played the piano nicely; but Ethel is all for
handsome men, tall, erect six-footers, with a little swing and swagger
to them. She thought you small and finicky. But Ethel's rich enough to
have her fancy, I hope."

"It is little matter now what she thought. I can't please every one."

"No, it's rather harder to do that than most people think it is. I
would please my conscience first of all, Fred. That's the point worth
mentioning. And I shall just remind you of one thing more: your money
all in a lump on Rawdon Manor is safe. It is in one place, and in such
shape as it can't run away nor be smuggled away by any man's trickery.
Now, then, turn your eighty thousand pounds into dollars, and divide
them among a score of securities, and you'll soon find out that a
fortune may be easily squandered when it is in a great many hands, and
that what looks satisfactory enough when reckoned up on paper doesn't
often realize in hard money to the same tune. I've said all now I am
going to say."

"Thank you for the advice given me. I will take it as far as I can. This
afternoon the Judge has promised to talk over the business with me."

"The Judge never saw Rawdon Court, and he cares nothing about it, but he
can give you counsel about the 'good things' Bryce Denning offers you.
And you may safely listen to it, for, right or wrong, I see plainly it
is your own advice you will take in the long run."

Mostyn laughed pleasantly and went back to his hotel to think over the
facts gleaned from his conversation with Madam. In the first place,
he understood that any overt act against Squire Rawdon would be deeply
resented by his American relatives. But then he reminded himself that
his own relationship with them was merely sentiment. He had now nothing
to hope for in the way of money. Madam's apparently spontaneous and
truthful assertion, that the Judge cared nothing for Rawdon Court, was,
however, very satisfactory to him. He had been foolish enough to think
that the thing he desired so passionately was of equal value in
the estimation of others. He saw now that he was wrong, and he then
remembered that he had never found Judge Rawdon to evince either
interest or curiosity about the family home.

If he had been a keen observer, the Judge's face when he called might
have given his comfortable feelings some pause. It was contracted,
subtle, intricate, but he came forward with a congratulation on Mostyn's
improved appearance. "A few weeks at the seaside would do you good," he
added, and Mostyn answered, "I think of going to Newport for a month."

"And then?"

"I want your opinion about that. McLean advises me to see the
country - to go to Chicago, St. Louis, Denver, cross the Rockies, and on
to California. It seems as if that would be a grand summer programme.
But my lawyer writes me that the man in charge at Mostyn is cutting too
much timber and is generally too extravagant. Then there is the question
of Rawdon Court. My finances will not let me carry the mortgage on it
longer, unless I buy the place."

"Are you thinking of that as probable?"

"Yes. It will have to be sold. And Mostyn seems to be the natural owner
after Rawdon. The Mostyns have married Rawdons so frequently that we are
almost like one family, and Rawdon Court lies, as it were, at Mostyn's
gate. The Squire is now old, and too easily persuaded for his own
welfare, and I hear the Tyrrel-Rawdons have been visiting him. Such a
thing would have been incredible a few years ago."

"Who are the Tyrrel-Rawdons? I have no acquaintance with them."

"They are the descendants of that Tyrrel-Rawdon who a century ago
married a handsome girl who was only an innkeeper's daughter. He was of
course disowned and disinherited, and his children sank to the lowest
social grade. Then when power-loom weaving was introduced they went to
the mills, and one of them was clever and saved money and built a little
mill of his own, and his son built a much larger one, and made a great
deal of money, and became Mayor of Leeds. The next generation saw the
Tyrrel-Rawdons the largest loom-lords in Yorkshire. One of the youngest
generation was my opponent in the last election and beat me - a Radical
fellow beats the Conservative candidate always where weavers and
spinners hold the vote but I thought it my duty to uphold the Mostyn
banner. You know the Mostyns have always been Tories and Conservatives."

"Excuse me, but I am afraid I am ignorant concerning Mostyn politics. I
take little interest in the English parties."

"Naturally. Well, I hope you will take an interest in my affairs and
give me your advice about the sale of Rawdon Court."

"I think my advice would be useless. In the first place, I never saw the
Court. My father had an old picture of it, which has somehow disappeared
since his death, but I cannot say that even this picture interested me
at all. You know I am an American, born on the soil, and very proud
of it. Then, as you are acquainted with all the ins and outs of the
difficulties and embarrassments, and I know nothing at all about them,
you would hardly be foolish enough to take my opinion against your own.
I suppose the Squire is in favor of your buying the Court?"

"I never named the subject to him. I thought perhaps he might have
written to you on the matter. You are the last male of the house in that

"He has never written to me about the Court. Then, I am not the last
male. From what you say, I think the Tyrrel-Rawdons could easily supply
an heir to Rawdon."

"That is the thing to be avoided. It would be a great offense to the
county families."

"Why should they be considered? A Rawdon is always a Rawdon."

"But a cotton spinner, sir! A mere mill-owner!"

"Well, I do not feel with you and the other county people in that
respect. I think a cotton spinner, giving bread to a thousand families,
is a vastly more respectable and important man than a fox-hunting, idle
landlord. A mill-owning Rawdon might do a deal of good in the sleepy old
village of Monk-Rawdon."

"Your sentiments are American, not English, sir."

"As I told you, we look at things from very different standpoints."

"Do you feel inclined to lift the mortgage yourself, Judge?"

"I have not the power, even if I had the inclination to do so. My
money is well invested, and I could not, at this time, turn bonds and
securities into cash without making a sacrifice not to be contemplated.
I confess, however, that if the Court has to be sold, I should like the
Tyrrel-Rawdons to buy it. I dare say the picture of the offending youth
is still in the gallery, and I have heard my mother say that what is
another's always yearns for its lord. Driven from his heritage for
Love's sake, it would be at least interesting if Gold gave back to his
children what Love lost them."

"That is pure sentiment. Surely it would be more natural that the
Mostyns should succeed the Rawdons. We have, as it were, bought the
right with at least a dozen intermarriages."

"That also is pure sentiment. Gold at last will carry the succession."

"But not your gold, I infer?"

"Not my gold; certainly not."

"Thank you for your decisive words They make my course clear."

"That is well. As to your summer movements, I am equally unable to
give you advice. I think you need the sea for a month, and after that
McLean's scheme is good. And a return to Mostyn to look after your
affairs is equally good. If I were you, I should follow my inclinations.
If you put your heart into anything, it is well done and enjoyed; if
you do a thing because you think you ought to do it, failure and
disappointment are often the results. So do as you want to do; it is the
only advice I can offer you."

"Thank you, sir. It is very acceptable. I may leave for Newport
to-morrow. I shall call on the ladies in the morning."

"I will tell them, but it is just possible that they, too, go to the
country to-morrow, to look after a little cottage on the Hudson we
occupy in the summer. Good-by, and I hope you will soon recover your
usual health."

Then the Judge lifted his hat, and with a courteous movement left the
room. His face had the same suave urbanity of expression, but he could
hardly restrain the passion in his heart. Placid as he looked when he
entered his house, he threw off all pretenses as soon as he reached his
room. The Yorkshire spirit which Ethel had declared found him out once
in three hundred and sixty-four days and twenty-three hours was then in
full pos-session. The American Judge had disappeared. He looked as like
his ancestors as anything outside of a painted picture could do. His
flushed face, his flashing eyes, his passionate exclamations, the stamp
of his foot, the blow of his hand, the threatening attitude of his
whole figure was but a replica of his great-grandfather, Anthony Rawdon,
giving Radicals at the hustings or careless keepers at the kennels "a
bit of his mind."

"'Mostyn, seems to be the natural owner of Rawdon! Rawdon Court lies
at Mostyn's gate! Natural that the Mostyns should succeed the Rawdons!
Bought the right by a dozen intermarriages!' Confound the impudent
rascal! Does he think I will see Squire Rawdon rogued out of his home?
Not if I can help it! Not if Ethel can help it! Not if heaven and
earth can help it! He's a downright rascal! A cool, unruffled, impudent
rascal!" And these ejaculations were followed by a bitter, biting,
blasting hailstorm of such epithets as could only be written with one
letter and a dash.

But the passion of imprecation cooled and satisfied his anger in this
its first impetuous outbreak, and he sat down, clasped the arms of his
chair, and gave himself a peremptory order of control. In a short time
he rose, bathed his head and face in cold water, and began to dress for
dinner. And as he stood before the glass he smiled at the restored color
and calm of his countenance.

"You are a prudent lawyer," he said sarcastically. "How many actionable
words have you just uttered! If the devil and Fred Mostyn have been
listening, they can, as mother says, 'get the law on you'; but I think
Ethel and I and the law will be a match even for the devil and Fred
Mostyn." Then, as he slowly went downstairs, he repeated to himself,
"Mostyn seems to be the natural owner of Rawdon. No, sir, neither
natural nor legal owner. Rawdon Court lies at Mostyn gate. Not yet.
Mostyn lies at Rawdon gate. Natural that the Mostyns should succeed the
Rawdons. Power of God! Neither in this generation nor the next."

And at the same moment Mostyn, having thought over his interview with
Judge Rawdon, walked thoughtfully to a window and muttered to himself:
"Whatever was the matter with the old man? Polite as a courtier, but
something was wrong. The room felt as if there was an iceberg in it, and
he kept his right hand in his pocket. I be-lieve he was afraid I
would shake hands with him - it is Ethel, I suppose. Naturally he is
disappointed. Wanted her at Rawdon. Well, it is a pity, but I really
cannot! Oh, Dora! Dora! My heart, my hungry and thirsty heart calls you!
Burning with love, dying with longing, I am waiting for you!"

The dinner passed pleasantly enough, but both Ethel and Ruth noticed the
Judge was under strong but well-controlled feeling. While servants were
present it passed for high spirits, but as soon as the three were alone
in the library, the excitement took at once a serious aspect.

"My dears," he said, standing up and facing them, "I have had a very
painful interview with Fred Mostyn. He holds a mortgage over Rawdon
Court, and is going to press it in September - that is, he proposes to
sell the place in order to obtain his money - and the poor Squire!" He
ceased speaking, walked across the room and back again, and appeared
greatly disturbed.

"What of the Squire?" asked Ruth.

"God knows, Ruth. He has no other home."

"Why is this thing to be done? Is there no way to prevent it?"

"Mostyn wants the money, he says, to invest in American securities. He
does not. He wants to force a sale, so that he may buy the place for the
mortgage, and then either keep it for his pride, or more likely resell
it to the Tyrrel-Rawdons for double the money." Then with gradually
increasing passion he repeated in a low, intense voice the remarks which
Mostyn had made, and which had so infuriated the Judge. Before he
had finished speaking the two women had caught his temper and spirit.
Ethel's face was white with anger, her eyes flashing, her whole attitude
full of fight. Ruth was troubled and sorrowful, and she looked anxiously
at the Judge for some solution of the condition. It was Ethel who voiced
the anxiety. "Father," she asked, "what is to be done? What can you do?"

"Nothing, I am sorry to say, Ethel. My money is absolutely tied up - for
this year, at any rate. I cannot touch it without wronging others as
well as myself, nor yet without the most ruinous sacrifice."

"If I could do anything, I would not care at what sacrifice."

"You can do all that is necessary, Ethel, and you are the only person
who can. You have at least eight hundred thousand dollars in cash and
negotiable securities. Your mother's fortune is all yours, with its
legitimate accruements, and it was left at your own disposal after your
twenty-first birthday. It has been at your own disposal WITH MY CONSENT
since your nineteenth birthday."

"Then, father, we need not trouble about the Squire. I wish with all
my heart to make his home sure to him as long as he lives. You are a
lawyer, you know what ought to be done."

"Good girl! I knew what you would say and do, or I should not have told
you the trouble there was at Rawdon. Now, I propose we all make a
visit to Rawdon Court, see the Squire and the property, and while there
perfect such arrangements as seem kindest and wisest. Ruth, how soon can
we be ready to sail?"

"Father, do you really mean that we are to go to England?"

"It is the only thing to do. I must see that all is as Mostyn says. I
must not let you throw your money away."

"That is only prudent," said Ruth, "and we can be ready for the first

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe Man Between, an International Romance → online text (page 6 of 14)