Beyond the Rocks (Chapter 1)

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Chapter 1

The hours were composed mostly of dull or rebellious moments during the
period of Theodora's engagement to Mr. Brown. From the very first she
had thought it hard that she should have had to take this situation,
instead of Sarah or Clementine, her elder step-sisters, so much nearer
his age than herself. To do them justice, either of these ladies would
have been glad to relieve her of the obligation to become Mrs. Brown,
but Mr. Brown thought otherwise.

A young and beautiful wife was what he bargained for.

To enter a family composed of three girls--two of the first family, one
almost thirty and a second very plain--a father with a habit of
accumulating debts and obliged to live at Bruges and inexpensive foreign
sea-side towns, required a strong motive; and this Josiah Brown found
in the deliciously rounded, white velvet cheek of Theodora, the third
daughter, to say nothing of her slender grace, the grace of a young
fawn, and a pair of gentian-blue eyes that said things to people in the
first glance.

Poor, foolish, handsome Dominic Fitzgerald, light-hearted, débonair
Irish gentleman, gay and gallant on his miserable pension of a broken
and retired Guardsman, had had just sufficient sense to insist upon
magnificent settlements, certainly prompted thereto by Clementine, who
inherited the hard-headedness of the early defunct Scotch mother, as
well as her high cheek-bones. That affair had been a youthful

"You had better see we all gain something by it, papa," she had said.
"Make the old bore give Theodora a huge allowance, and have it all fixed
and settled by law beforehand. She is such a fool about money--just like
you--she will shower it upon us; and you make him pay you a sum down as

Captain Fitzgerald fortunately consulted an honest solicitor, and so
things were arranged to the satisfaction of all parties concerned except
Theodora herself, who found the whole affair far from her taste.

That one must marry a rich man if one got the chance, to help poor,
darling papa, had always been part of her creed, more or less inspired
by papa himself. But when it came to the scratch, and Josiah Brown was
offered as a husband, Theodora had had to use every bit of her nerve and
self-control to prevent herself from refusing.

She had not seen many men in her nineteen years of out-at-elbows life,
but she had imagination, and the one or two peeps at smart old friends
of papa's, landed from stray yachts now and then, at out-of-the-way
French watering-places, had given her an ideal far, far removed from the
personality of Josiah Brown.

But, as Sarah explained to her, such men could never be husbands. They
might be lovers, if one was fortunate enough to move in their sphere,
but husbands--never! and there was no use Theodora protesting this
violent devotion to darling papa, if she could not do a small thing like
marrying Josiah Brown for him!

Theodora's beautiful mother, dead in the first year of her runaway
marriage, had been the daughter of a stiff-necked, unforgiving old earl;
she had bequeathed her child, besides these gentian eyes and wonderful,
silvery blond hair, a warm, generous heart and a more or less romantic

The heart was touched by darling papa's needs, and the romantic
temperament revolted by Josiah Brown's personality.

However, there it was! The marriage took place at the Consulate at
Dieppe, and a perfectly miserable little bride got into the train for
Paris, accompanied by a fat, short, prosperous, middle-class English
husband, who had accumulated a large fortune in Australia, quite by
accident, in a comparatively few years.

Josiah Brown was only fifty-two, though his head was bald and his figure
far from slight. He had a liver, a chest, and a temper, and he adored

Captain Fitzgerald had felt a few qualms when he had wished his little
daughter good-bye on the platform and had seen the blue stars swimming
with tears. The two daughters left to him were so plain, and he hated
plain people about him; but, on the other hand, women must marry, and
what chance had he, poor, unlucky devil, of establishing his Theodora
better in life?

Josiah Brown was a good fellow, and he, Dominic Fitzgerald, had for the
first time for many years a comfortable balance at his bankers, and
could run up to Paris himself in a few days, and who knows, the American
widow, fabulously rich--Jane Anastasia McBride--might take him

Captain Dominic Fitzgerald was irresistible, and had that fortunate
knack of looking like a gentleman in the oldest clothes. If married for
the third time--but this time prosperously, to a fabulously rich
American--his well-born relations would once more welcome him with open
arms, he felt sure, and visions of the best pheasant shoots at old
Beechleigh, and partridge drives at Rothering Castle floated before his
eyes, quite obscuring the fading smoke of the Paris train.

"A pretty tough, dull affair marriage," he said to himself, reminded
once more of Theodora by treading on a white rose in the station. "Hope
to Heavens Sarah prepared her for it a bit." Then he got into a fiacre
and drove to the hotel, where he and the two remaining Misses Fitzgerald
were living in the style of their forefathers.

Josiah Brown's valet, Mr. Toplington, who knew the world, had engaged
rooms for the happy couple at the Grand Hotel. "We'll go to the Ritz on
our way back," he decided, "but at first, in case there's scenes and
tears, it's better to be a number than a name." Mademoiselle Henriette,
the freshly engaged French maid, quite agreed with him. The Grand, she
said, was "plus convenable pour une lune de Miel--" Lune de Miel!

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