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The Man and the Moment

CHAPTER XVI
R OSE FORSTER had felt she must not lure Mr. Arranstoun over to Ebbsworth on false
pretences; he was a very much sought after young man, and since his return from the
wilds had been very difficult to secure, and therefore it was her duty to give him one of
her beautiful Americans at dinner. The Princess was obviously the destiny of her husband
with her brother Henry upon the other side, so Michael must take in Mrs. Howard. Mr.
Arranstoun was one of the last two guests to assemble in the great drawing-room where
the party were collected, and did not hear of his good fortune until one minute before
dinner was announced.
Sabine had perhaps never looked so well in her life. She had not her father's nation's love
of splendid jewels, and wore none of any kind. Her French mother may have transmitted
to her some wonderful strain of tastes which from earliest youth had seemed to guide her
into selecting the most beautiful and becoming things without great knowledge. Her ugly
frocks at the Convent had been a penance, and ever since she had been free and rich her
clothes and all her belongings had been marvels of distinction and simplicity.
Moravia was, strictly speaking, far more beautiful, but Sabine, as Henry had once said,
had "it."
Her manner was just what it ought to have been, as she placed her hand upon her
husband's arm—perfectly indifferent and gracious, and so they went in to dinner.
Michael had hardly hoped to have this chance and meant to make the most of it. At
dinner before a ball was not the place to have a serious discussion about divorce, but was
for lighter and more frivolous conversation, and he felt his partner would be no unskilled
adversary with the foils.
"So you have got this far north, Mrs. Howard," he began by saying, making a slight pause
over the name. "I wish I could persuade you to come over the border to Arranstoun; it is
only thirty-five miles from here, and really merits your attention."
"I have heard it is a most interesting place," Sabine returned, suddenly experiencing the
same wild delight in the game as she had done in the garden at Héronac. "Have you
ghosts there? We do not have such things in France."
"Yes, there are a number of ghosts—but the most persistent and disconcerting one is a
very young girl who nightly falls through a secret door into my room."
"How romantic! What is she like?" Two violet eyes looked up at him full of that mischief
which lies in the orbs of a kitten when it contemplates some fearsome crime, and has to
appear especially innocent.
 
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