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The Man and the Moment

F OR a day or two, Michael Arranstoun could not make up his mind, when he heard of
the Ebbsworth ball, as to whether or no he ought to go to it. He had several conversations
with Binko upon the subject, and finally came to the conclusion that he would go. He had
grown so desperately unhappy by this time, that he cared no more whether it were right
or wrong—he must see Sabine. He had not believed that it could be possible for him to
suffer to such a degree about a woman. He must satisfy himself absolutely as to the fact
of her loving Henry.
Rose Forster had written, of course, to ask him to stay in the house for it—holding out the
bait that she had two absolutely charming Americans coming. So Michael fell—and
accepted, not without excusing himself to Binko as he finished writing out his wire:
Thousand thanks. I will come.
"I am a coward, Binko—I ought to have the pluck to go off to Timbuctoo and let Henry
have a fair field—but I haven't and must be certain first."
They were all at tea in the library at Ebbsworth when he arrived, having motored over
from Arranstoun after lunch.
Everyone was enchanted to see him, and greeted him with delight. He knew almost the
whole twenty of them, most of whom were old friends.
The hostess took him over to the tea table, and sitting near it in a ravishing tea-gown was
Moravia. Rose Forster introduced him casually, while she poured him out some tea.
The library was a big room with one or two tall screens, and from behind the furthest one
there came a low, rippling laugh. The sound of it maddened Michael, and his bold blue
eyes blazed as he began to talk to the Princess. His naturally easy manners made him able
to carry on some kind of a conversation, but his whole attention was fixed upon the
whereabouts of Sabine. She was with Henry, of course, behind that Spanish leather
screen. He hardly even noticed that Moravia was a very pretty woman, most wonderfully
dressed; but he felt she was a powerful unit in his game of getting Sabine to Arranstoun,
and so he endeavored to make himself agreeable to her.
Presently, in the general move, Lord Fordyce and his lady love emerged with two other
people they had been talking to, and Henry came up to Michael with outstretched hand.