And he was forced to be content with the memory of her soft smile and the evident regret in her eyes.
Theodora was greatly interested in Beechleigh. To her the home of her fathers was full of sentiment, and the thought that her grandfather had ruled there pleased her. How she would love and cherish it were it her home now! Every one of these fine things must have some memory.
Then the pictures of as far back as she could remember came to her, and she saw again their poor lodgings in the cheap foreign towns and their often scanty fare. And with a fresh burst of love and pride in him, she remembered her father’s invariable cheerfulness—cheerfulness and gayety—in such poverty! And after he had been used to—this! For all the descriptions of Captain Fitzgerald had given her no idea of the reality.
Now she knew what love meant, and could realize her mother’s story. Oh, she would have acted just in the same way, too.
Dominic had been forgiven by his brother after his first wife’s death, and had come back to enjoy a short spell of peace and prosperity. And who could wonder that Lady Minnie Borringdon, in her first season, and full of romance, should fall headlong in love with his wonderfully handsome face, and be only too ready to run off with him from an angry and unreasonable parent! She was a spoiled and only child who had never been crossed. Then came that fatal Derby, and the final extinction of all sympathy with the scapegrace. The Fitzgeralds had done enough for him already, and Lord Borringdon had no intention of doing anything at all, so the married lovers crept away in high disgrace, and spent a few months of bliss in a southern town, where the sun shone and the food was cheap, and there poor, pretty Minnie died, leaving Theodora a few hours old.
And now at Beechleigh Theodora looked out of her window on the north side—the southern rooms were kept for greater than she—and from there she could see a vast stretch of park, with the deer cropping the fine turf, and the lions frowning while they supported the ducal coronet over the great gates at the end of the court-yard and colonnade.
It was truly a splendid inheritance, and she glowed with pride to think she was of this house.
So she wrote a long letter to her dear ones—her sisters at Dieppe, and papa, still in Paris, and even one to Mrs. McBride. And then she read until her maid came to dress her for dinner.
Her room was a large one, and numberless modern touches of comfort brought up-to-date the early Georgian furniture and the shabby silk hangings. A room stamped with that something which the most luxurious apartments of the wealthiest millionaire can never acquire.
Josiah looked in upon her as she finished dressing. He was, he said, most pleased with everything, and if they were a little unused to such company, still nothing could be more cordial than Sir Patrick’s treatment of him.