Lord Fordyce found himself dressing in the usual way and with the usual care, such creatures of habit are we—and yet, two hours earlier, he had felt that life was over for him. Although he did not know it, Moravia had been like a strong restorative applied at the right moment, and the crisis of his agony had gone by. It was not that he was not still overcome by sorrow, or that moments of complete anguish would not recur, but the current had been diverted from taking a fatal turn, and gradually things would mend. The perfect, practical common sense of Moravia was so good for him. She was not intellectual like Sabine, she was just a dear, beautiful, kind, ordinary woman, extremely in love with him, but too truly American ever to lose her head, and now in real spirits at the prospect of playing so delightful a game. She was thoroughly versed in the ways of male creatures, and although she possessed none of Sabine’s indescribable charm, she had had numbers of admirers and would-be lovers and was in every way fitted to cope with any man. This evening, she had determined so to soothe, flatter and pet Henry that he should go to bed not realizing that there was any change in himself, but should be in reality completely changed. Her preparations had been swift but elaborate. She had rushed to Madame Imogen’s room, and got her to take special messages to the chef, and dinner would be waited on by her own maid—with Nicholas just to run in and open the champagne. Then she selected a ravishing rose-pink chiffon tea-gown, all lacy and fresh, and lastly she had a big fire made up and all the curtains drawn, and so she awaited Henry’s coming with anticipations of delight. She had even got Mr. Cloudwater (that pere aprivoise!) to mix her two dry Martini cocktails, which were ready for her guest.
Henry knocked at the door exactly at eight o’clock, and she went to meet him with all the air of authority of a mother, and led him into the room, pushing him gently into the chair she had prepared for him. A man may have a broken heart—but the hurt cannot feel so great when he is surrounded with every comfort and ministered to by a beautiful young woman, who is not only in love with him, but has the nerve to keep her head and not neglect a single point which can be of use in her game.
If she had shown him too much sympathy, or just been ultra-refined and silent and adoring, Henry by this time would have been quite as unhappy as he had been at first; but he was too courteous by nature not to try to be polite and appreciative of kindness when she tendered it so frankly, no matter what his inward feelings might be—and this she knew she could count upon and meant to exploit. She argued very truly that if he were obliged to act, it would brace him up and be beneficial to him, even though at the moment he would much prefer to be alone. So now she made him drink the cocktail, and then she