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The Man and the Moment
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was extremely startled and annoyed, too, and before he took in the
situation, he had exclaimed, while Binko gave an ominous growl of displeasure:
"Confound it—who is that! These are private rooms!" Then, seeing it was a girl on the
floor, he said in another voice: "Quiet, Binko—" and the dog retired to his own basket
under a distant table. "Oh, I beg your pardon—but——"
The creature on the floor blinked at Michael with large, round, violet eyes, but did not
move, while she answered aggrievedly—with a very faint accent, whether a little French
or a little American, or a little of both, he was not sure, only that it had something
attractive about it.
"You may well say 'but'! I did not mean to intrude upon your private room—but I had to
run away from Mr. Greenbank—he was so horrid—" here she gasped a little for breath—
"and I happened to see something like a door ajar in the Gainsborough room, so I fled
through it, and it fastened after me with a snap—I could not open it again—and it was
pitch dark in that dreadful passage and not a scrap of air—I felt suffocated, and I pushed
on anywhere—and something gave way and I fell in here—that's all——"
She rattled this out without a stop, and then stared at Michael with her big, childish eyes,
but did not attempt to rise from the floor.
He walked toward her and held out his hand, and with ceremonious and ironical
politeness, he began:
"May I not help you—I could offer you a chair——"
She interrupted him while she struggled up, refusing his proffered hand.
"I've knocked myself against your nasty table—why do you have it in that place!"
Michael sat down upon the edge of it, and went on in his ironical tone:
"Had I known I was to have the honor of this visit, I should certainly have had it moved."
"There is no use being sarcastic," the girl said, almost crying now. "It hurts very much,
and—and—I want to go home."
Mr. Arranstoun pushed a comfortable monster seat toward her, and said more