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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesBeyond The Rocks: A Love Story - Chapter 22
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Beyond The Rocks: A Love Story - Chapter 22 Post by :goldberg Category :Long Stories Author :Elinor Glyn Date :May 2012 Read :2976

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Beyond The Rocks: A Love Story - Chapter 22

CHAPTER XXII

The Crow stayed on after all the other guests had left. He knew his hostess wished to talk to him.

It had begun to pour with rain, and the dripping streets held out no inducement to them to go out.

They pulled up their two comfortable arm-chairs to the sparkling wood fire, and then Colonel Lowerby said:

"You look sad, Queen Anne. Tell me about it."

"Yes, I am sad," said Anne. "The position is so hopeless. Hector loves her--loves her really--and I do not wonder at it; and she seems just everything that one could wish for him. A thousand times above Morella in intellect and understanding. All the things Hector and I like she sees at once. No need of explaining to her, as one has to to mother and Morella always."

"Yes," said the Crow. He did not argue with her as usual.

"It seems so fearful to think of her forever bound to that dreadful old grocer, whom she treats with so much deference and gentleness. The whole thing has made me sad. Hector is perfectly miserable; and, do you know, they are going to Beechleigh for Whitsuntide. Sir Patrick Fitzgerald is her uncle--and, of course, Hector is going, too, and--"

She did not finish her sentence. Her voice died away in a pathetic note as she gazed into the fire.

The Crow fidgeted; he had been devoted to Anne since she was a child of ten, and he hated to see her troubled.

"Look here," he said. "I investigated her thoroughly at luncheon, and I don't often make a mistake, do I?"

"No," said Anne. "Well--?"

"Well, she appeared to me to have some particular quality of sweetness--you were right about her looking like an angel--and I think she has got an angel's nature more or less; and when people are really like that there is some one up above looks after them, and I don't think we need worry much--you and I."

"Dear old Crow!" said Anne; "you do comfort me. But all the same, angel or not, Hector is so attractive--and he is a man, you know, not one of these anaemic, artistic, aesthetic things we see about so often now; and thrown together like that--how on earth will they be able to help themselves?"

The Crow was silent.

"You see," she continued, "beyond Morella, who is too absolutely unalluring and respectable to come to harm anywhere, and Miss Linwood, who only cares for bridge, there will hardly be another woman in the house who has not got a lover, and the atmosphere of those things is catching--don't you think so?"

"It is nature," said Colonel Lowerby. "A woman in possession of her health and faculties requires a mate, and when her husband is attending to sport or some other man's wife, she is bound to find one somewhere. I don't blame the poor things."

"Oh, nor I!" said Anne. "I don't ever blame any one. And just one, because you love him, seems all right, perhaps. It is six different ones in a year, and a seventh to pay the bills, that I find vulgar."

"Dans les premieres passions, les femmes aiment l'amant; et dans les autres, elles aiment l'amour," quoted the Crow. "It was ever the same, you see. It is the seventh to pay the bills that seems vulgar and modern."

"Billy and I stayed there for the pheasant shoot last November, and I assure you we felt quite out of it, having no little adventures at night like the rest. Lady Ada is the picture of washed-out respectability herself, and so--to give her some reflected color, I suppose--she asks always the most go-ahead, advanced section of her acquaintances."

"Well, I shall be there this time," said the Crow; "she invited me last week."

This piece of news comforted Lady Anningford greatly. She felt here would be some one to help matters if he could.

"Morella will be perfectly furious when she gets there and finds she was not the reason of Hector's empressement for the invitation. And in her stolid way she can be just as spiteful as Lady Harrowfield."

"Yes, I know."

Then they were both silent for a while--Anne's thoughts busy with the mournful idea of the end of the House of Bracondale should Hector never marry, and the Crow's of her in sympathy, his eyes watching her face.

At last she spoke.

"I believe it would be best for Hector to go right away for a year or so," she sighed. "But, however it may be, I fear, alas! it can only end in tears."

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CHAPTER XXIIIBeechleigh was really a fine place, built by Vanbrugh in his best days. Three tiers of fifteen tall windows looked to the north in a front and two short wings, while colonnades led down to splendid wrought-iron gates, and blocks of buildings constructed in the same stately style. Fifteen more windows faced the south; and the centre one of the first floor led, with sweeping steps, to a terrace, while seven casements adorned each of the eastern and western sides. On the southern side the view, for that rather flat country, was superb. It gave, from a considerable elevation--through a
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CHAPTER XXILord Bracondale arrived at his sister's house in Charles Street about a quarter of an hour before her luncheon guests were due. Anne rushed down to see him, meeting her husband on the stairs. "Oh, don't come in yet, Billy, like a darling," she said, "I want to talk to Hector alone." And the meek and fond Lord Anningford had obediently retired to his smoking-room. "Well, Hector," she said, when she had greeted him, "and so you are going to the Fitzgeralds' for Whitsuntide, and not to Bracondale, mother tells me this morning. She is in the seventh heaven, taking
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