“Her husband was an American,” Henry rejoined, “and is in a madhouse or an institution for inebriates, I believe.”
“Well, I wish you all joy, Henry, I do, indeed—and I promise you I will do all I can to help you through with it. I won’t retaliate for your thundering niggardness five years ago, when you would not even be my best man, do you remember?”
“This is quite different, my dear boy,” Lord Fordyce assured him with dignity. “You were going to do what I thought a most casual thing, just for your own ends, but I—Michael—” and his cultivated voice vibrated with feeling—“I love this woman as I never thought I should love anything on God’s earth.”
“Then here’s to you!” said Mr. Arranstoun, and ringing the bell for the waiter, ordered a pint of champagne to drink his friend’s health.
So they had started in the motor after breakfast next day and that night slept at St. Malo—getting to Heronac without adventure the following afternoon.
When no telegram was awaiting Lord Fordyce at —— where they breakfasted, he remarked to Michael:
“She does not mind your coming—or she would have wired—I wish I were as indifferent about it—Michael—” and Henry stammered a little—“you’ll promise me as a friend—you will not look into her eyes with your confounded blue ones and try to cut me out.”
For some reason this appeal touched something in Michael’s heart, his voice was full of cordiality and his blue bold eyes swam with kindly affection as he answered:
“I’m not a beast, Henry—and I don’t want every woman I see—and anyone you fancied would in any case be sacred to me,” and he held out his hand. “Give you my word as I told you before, I’ll not only promise you on my honor that I’ll not cut in myself, but I’ll do everything I can to help you, old man,” then he laughed to hide the seriousness of his feeling—“even to lending Arranstoun for the honeymoon.”
So they grasped hands and sealed the bargain and got into the motor and went on their way.
The first view of Heronac had enchanted them both, it was indeed a unique place.
“What taste!” Henry had said. “Fancy a young woman knowing and seeing at once the possibilities of such a place!”
“It is as grim as Arranstoun and nearly as old,” Michael exclaimed. “I am glad we came.”
Sabine shrank back into Berthe’s little kitchen and signalled to her not to make known the hostess’ presence—but to let the gentlemen drive over the causeway bridge to the courtyard—where they would be told by Nicholas that she was in the garden, and would probably be brought there to her by Madame Imogen who would have welcomed them.