“It is getting nearly breakfast-time,” she said gaily, “and I just want to pick a big bunch of sweet peas before the sun gets on them, won’t you help me?—and then we will go in.”
She slid to the floor before he could put out a hand to assist her, and with her swift, graceful movements led the way to the tall sticks where the last of the summer sweet peas grew.
Here she handed him the basket and told him to work hard—and all the while she chattered of the ways of these flowers, and the trouble she had had to make them grow there, and would not once let the conversation upon this subject flag.
“Some day when I live in England, I suppose I can have a lovely garden there—it is famous for gardens, isn’t it? I take in Country Life and try to learn from it.”
“Yes,” he answered, and grew stiff. The sudden picture of her living in England—with Henry—came to him as an ugly shock.
“Before you settle down in England, I would like you to see Arranstoun,—please promise me to come and stay there before you do? I will have a party whenever you like. I would love to show it to you—every part of it—especially the chapel—it is full of wonderful things!”
If she chose to give him reminders of aspects which hurt, he would do the same!
“It sounds most interesting,” she agreed, but had not the courage to make any remarks about the chapel or ask what it contained.
The clock over the gateway struck twelve—and she laughingly started to walk very fast toward the house.
“Madame Imogen and Lord Fordyce will be ravenous—come, let us go quickly—I can even run!”
So they strode on together with the radiant faces of those exalted by an exciting game, on the way passing Pere Anselme.
And in the cool tapestried antechamber of the salle-a-manger, they found Henry looking from the window a little wistfully, and a pang of self-reproach struck both their hearts.
All through breakfast, Sabine devoted herself sedulously to Lord Fordyce—and this produced two results. It sent Henry into a seventh heaven and caused Michael to burn with jealous rage. Primitive instincts were a good deal taking possession of him—and he found it extremely difficult to keep up his role of disinterested friend. It must be admitted he was in really a very difficult position for any man, and it is not very easy to decide what he ought to have done short of telling Henry the truth at once—but this he found grew every moment more hard to do. It would mean that he would have to leave Heronac immediately. In any case, he must do this directly. Sabine admitted, even to him, that she was his wife. They could not together agree to leave Henry in ignorance, that would be deliberately deceiving, and would make them both feel too mean. But while nothing was even tacitly confessed, there seemed some straw for his honor to grasp; he clutched at it knowing its flimsy nature. He had given himself until the next day and now refused to look beyond that. Every moment Sabine was attracting him more deeply—and bringing certain memories more vividly before him with maddening tantalization.