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The Man and the Moment
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decided to be a little late for dinner—three minutes, just to give the rest of the
party time to be assembled in the big salon. She was coming from the communicating
passage to her part of the house when Mr. Arranstoun came out of his room, and they
were obliged to go down the great staircase together.
To see him suddenly in evening dress like this brought her wedding night back so vividly
to her, she with difficulty kept a gasp from her breath. He was certainly the most
splendidly good-looking creature, with his blue eyes and dark hair and much fairer little
"I am late!" she cried laughing, before he could speak a word. "Père Anselme will scold
me! Come along!" and she tripped forward with a glance over her shoulder.
Michael's eyes blazed—she was a truly bewitching morsel in her fresh white frock with
its bunch of crimson sweet peas stuck in the belt.
"Your flowers should be stephanotis," he said, and that was all, as he followed her down
"I cannot bear them," she retorted and shuddered a little. "I only care for out-door, simple
things like my sweet peas."
He did not speak as they went along the gallery—this disconcerted her—what did it
mean? She had been prepared to fence with him, and keep him in his place, she was
ready to defend herself on all sides—and no defence seemed necessary! A sudden cold
feeling came over her as though excitement had died down and she opened the salon door
quickly and advanced into the room.
Michael had come to a determination while dressing—Henry had walked in and smoked
a cigarette with him before he began, and had then showed plainly his joy and
satisfaction. She—his worshiped lady—had never before been so tender and gracious,
and he was awfully happy because things were going well. And what did his friend
Michael think of his choice? Was she not the sweetest woman in the world?
Michael said he had seen better-looking ones, but admitted she had charm. He was really
suffering, the situation was so impossible and he had not yet made up his mind what he
ought to do—tell Henry straight out that Sabine was his wife or what? If he did that he
might be going contrary to some plan of hers—for she evidently had no intention yet of
informing Lord Fordyce, or of giving the least indication that she recognized him—
Michael. It was the most grotesque puzzle and contained an element of the tragic, too—
for one of them.