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The Man and the Moment

CHAPTER XXIII
V ERY early on Christmas morning, Lord Fordyce went down to the presbytère and
walked with the Père Anselme on his way to Mass. He had come to a conclusion during
the night. The worthy priest would be the more fitting person to see Michael than he,
himself; he felt he could well leave all explanations in those able hands—and then, when
his old friend knew everything, he, Henry, would meet him and bring him to the Château
of Héronac, and so to Sabine.
The Père Anselme was quite willing to undertake this mission; he would have returned to
his breakfast by then and would await Michael's arrival, he told Henry. Michael would
come from the station, twenty kilometers away, in Henry's motor.
The wind had got up, and a gloriously rough sea beat itself against the rocks. The
thundering surf seemed some comfort to Henry. He was unconscious of the fact that he
felt very much better than he had ever imagined that he could feel after such a blow.
Moravia's maneuvrings and sweet sympathy had been most effective, and Henry had
fallen asleep while her spell was still upon him—and only awakened after several hours
of refreshing slumber. Then it was he decided upon the plan, which he put into execution
as soon as daylight came. Now he left the old priest at the church door and strode away
along the rough coast road, battling with the wind and trying to conquer his thoughts.
He was following Moravia's advice, and replacing each one of pain as it came with one of
pleasure—and the cold air exhilarated his blood.
Michael, meanwhile, in the slow, unpleasant train, was a prey to anxiety and speculation.
What had happened? There was no clue in Henry's dry words in the telegram. Had there
been some disaster? Was Henry violently angry with him? What would their meeting
bring? He had come in to the Ritz from a dinner party, and had got the telegram just in
time to rush straight to the station with a hastily-packed bag, and get into an almost-
moving train, and all night long he had wondered and wondered, as he sat in the corner of
his carriage. But whatever had happened was a relief—it produced action. He had no
longer just to try to kill time and stifle thought; he could do something for good or ill.
It seemed as though he would never arrive, as the hours wore on and dawn faded into
daylight. Then, at last, the crawling engine drew up at his destination, and he got out and
recognized Henry's chauffeur waiting for him on the platform. The swift rush through the
cold air refreshed him, and took away the fatigue of the long night—and soon they had
drawn up at the door of the presbytère, and he found himself being shown by the priest's
ancient housekeeper into the spotlessly clean parlor.
The Père Anselme joined him in a moment, and they silently shook hands.
 
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