Sabine’s violet eyes grew black as night—and her little nostrils quivered.
“I know nothing of passions, Moravia,” she cried, and threw out her arms. “I have only dreamed of them—imagined them. I am afraid of them—afraid to feel too much. Henry will be a haven of rest—the moment—can never come to me.”
The Princess laughed a little bitterly.
“Then let us dress, darling, and go down and outshine all these dear, dowdy Englishwomen; and while you are sipping courtesy and gentleness with Lord Fordyce, I shall try to quaff gloriously attractive, aboriginal force with Mr. Arranstoun—but it would have been more suitable to our characters could we have changed partners. Now, run along!”
Rose Forster had felt she must not lure Mr. Arranstoun over to Ebbsworth on false pretences; he was a very much sought after young man, and since his return from the wilds had been very difficult to secure, and therefore it was her duty to give him one of her beautiful Americans at dinner. The Princess was obviously the destiny of her husband with her brother Henry upon the other side, so Michael must take in Mrs. Howard. Mr. Arranstoun was one of the last two guests to assemble in the great drawing-room where the party were collected, and did not hear of his good fortune until one minute before dinner was announced.
Sabine had perhaps never looked so well in her life. She had not her father’s nation’s love of splendid jewels, and wore none of any kind. Her French mother may have transmitted to her some wonderful strain of tastes which from earliest youth had seemed to guide her into selecting the most beautiful and becoming things without great knowledge. Her ugly frocks at the Convent had been a penance, and ever since she had been free and rich her clothes and all her belongings had been marvels of distinction and simplicity.
Moravia was, strictly speaking, far more beautiful, but Sabine, as Henry had once said, had “it.”
Her manner was just what it ought to have been, as she placed her hand upon her husband’s arm—perfectly indifferent and gracious, and so they went in to dinner.
Michael had hardly hoped to have this chance and meant to make the most of it. At dinner before a ball was not the place to have a serious discussion about divorce, but was for lighter and more frivolous conversation, and he felt his partner would be no unskilled adversary with the foils.
“So you have got this far north, Mrs. Howard,” he began by saying, making a slight pause over the name. “I wish I could persuade you to come over the border to Arranstoun; it is only thirty-five miles from here, and really merits your attention.”
“I have heard it is a most interesting place,” Sabine returned, suddenly experiencing the same wild delight in the game as she had done in the garden at Heronac. “Have you ghosts there? We do not have such things in France.”