The Man and the Moment
I N the morning before they left Héronac, Sabine's elderly maid, Simone, came to her
with the face she always wore when her speech might contain any reference to the past.
She had been with Sabine ever since the week after her marriage, and was a widow and a
Parisian, with a kind and motherly heart.
"Will madame take the blue despatch-box with her as usual?" she asked.
Sabine hesitated for a second. She had never gone anywhere without it in all those five
years—but now everything was changed. It might be wiser to leave it safely at Héronac.
Then her eyes fell upon it, and a slight shudder came over her of the kind which people
describe as "a goose walking over your grave."
No, she could not leave it behind.
"I will take it, Simone."
"As madame wishes," and the maid went on her way.
When Sabine had reached London late on that evening in the June of 1907 on her leaving
Scotland she found, in response to the wire she had sent him from Edinburgh, Mr.
Parsons waiting for her at the station, his astonishment as great as his perturbation.
Her words had been few; her young mind had been firmly made up in the train coming
south. No one should ever know that there had been any deviation from the original plan
she had laid out for herself. With a force of will marvellous in one of her tender years,
she had controlled her extreme emotion, and except that she looked very pale and seemed
very determined and quiet, there were no traces of the furnace through which she had
passed, in which had perished all her old conceptions of existence, although as yet she
realized nothing but that she wanted to go away and to be free and forget her tremors, and
presently join Moravia.
The marriage had been perfectly legal, as the certificate showed, and Mr. Parsons,
whatever his personal feelings about the matter were, knew that he had not the smallest
control over her—and was bound to hand over to her her money to do with as she
She merely told him the facts—that the marriage had been only an arrangement to this
end—Mr. Arranstoun having agreed before the ceremony that this should be so—and that