The Man and the Moment
M EANWHILE the divorce affair went on apace. There was no defence, of course, and
Michael's lawyers were clever and his own influence was great. So freedom would come
before the end of term probably, if not early in the New Year, and Henry felt he might
begin to ask his beloved one to name a date when he could call her his own, and endeavor
to take every shadow from her life.
His letters all this month had been more than extra tender and devoted, each one showing
that his whole desire was only for Sabine's welfare, and each one, as she read it, put a
fresh stab into her heart and seemed like an extra fetter in the chain binding her to him.
She knew she was really the mainspring of his life and she could not, did not, dare to face
what might be the consequence of her parting from him. Besides, the die was cast and she
must have the courage to go through with it.
Mr. Parsons had let her know definitely that the bare fact of her name would appear in the
papers, and nothing more; and at first the thought came to her that if it had made no
impression upon Henry's memory, when he must have read it originally in the notice of
the marriage, why should it strike him now? But this was too slender a thread to hang
hope upon, and it would be wiser and better for them all if when Lord Fordyce came with
Moravia and Girolamo and Mr. Cloudwater at Christmas, she told him the whole truth.
The dread of this augmented day by day, until it became a nightmare and she had to use
the whole force of her will to keep even an outward semblance of calm.
Thoughts of Michael she dismissed as well as she could, but she had passionate longings
to go and take out the blue enamel locket from her despatch-box and look at it once more;
she would not permit herself to indulge in this weakness, though. Her whole days were
ruled with sternest discipline until she became quite thin, and the Père Anselme grew
worried about her.
A fortnight went by; it was growing near to Christmastime—but the atmosphere of
Héronac contained no peace, and one bleak afternoon the old priest paced the long walk
in the garden with knitted brows. He did not feel altogether sure as to what was his duty.
He was always on the side of leaving things in the hand of the good God, but it might be
that he would be selected to be an instrument of fate, since he seemed the only detached
person with any authority in the affair.
His Dame d'Héronac had tried hard to be natural and her old self, he could see that, but
her taste in their reading had been over much directed to Heine, she having brought
French translations of this poet's works back with her from Paris.