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The Man and the Moment

CHAPTER VI
M ORE than a week went by, and it seemed quite natural now to Lord Fordyce to shape
his days according to the plans of the American party, and when they met at the
Schlossbrunn in the morning at half-past seven, and he and Mr. Cloudwater and the
Princess had drunk their tumblers of water together, their custom was to go on down to
the town and there find Sabine, who had bought their slices of ham and their rolls, and
awaited them at the end of the Alte Weise with the pink paper bags, and then the four
proceeded to walk to the Kaiser Park to breakfast.
This meal was so merry, Mrs. Howard tantalizing the others by having cream in her
coffee and sugar upon her wild strawberries, while they were only permitted to take theirs
plain.
During the stroll there it was Sabine's custom persistently to adhere to the side of Mr.
Cloudwater, leaving the other two tête-à-tête—and, delightful as Lord Fordyce found the
Princess, this irritated him. He discovered himself, as the days advanced, to be
experiencing a distinct longing to know what was passing in that little head, whose violet
eyes looked out with so much mystery and shadow in their depths. He could not tell
himself that she avoided him; she was always friendly and casual and perfectly at her
ease, but no extra look of pleasure or welcome for him personally ever came into her
face, and never once had he been able to speak to her really alone. Mr. Cloudwater and
the two ladies drove back from breakfast each day, and he was left to take his exercises
and his bath. Now and then he had encountered the Princess in the near woods just before
luncheon, returning from the Kaiserbad, but Mrs. Howard never—and when he inquired
how she spent her time, she replied however she happened to fancy, which gave him no
clue as to where he might find her—and with all her frank charm, she was not a person to
whom it was easy to put a direct question. Lord Fordyce began to grow too interested for
his peace of mind. When he realized this, he got very angry with himself. He had never
permitted a woman to be anything but a mild recreation in his life, and at forty it was a
little late to begin to experience something serious about one.
They often motored in the afternoon to various resorts not too far distant, and there took
tea; and for two whole days it had been wet and, except at meals, the ladies had lain
perdues.
However fate was kind on a Saturday morning, and allowed Lord Fordyce to chance
upon Mrs. Howard, right up at the Belvedere in the far woods, looking over the valley.
She was quite alone, and her slender figure was outlined against the bright sunlight as she
leaned on the balustrade gazing down at the exquisite scene.
 
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