When Lord Fordyce found himself alone, it felt as if life itself must leave him, the agony of pain was so great, the fiendish irony of circumstances. It almost seemed that each time he had intended to do a good thing, he had been punished. He had left Arranstoun for the best motive, and so had not seen Sabine and thus saved himself from future pain; he had taken Michael to Heronac out of kindly friendship, and this had robbed him of his happiness. But, awful as the discovery was now, it was not half so terrible as it would have been if the truth had only come to him later, when Sabine had become his wife. He must be thankful for that. Things had always been inevitable; it was plain to be understood that she had loved Michael all along, and nothing he personally could have done with all his devotion could have changed this fact. He ought to have known that it was hopeless and that he was only living in a fool’s paradise. Never once had he seen the light in her eyes for himself which sprang there even at the mention of Michael’s name. What was this tremendous power this man possessed to so deeply affect women, to so greatly charm every one? Was it just “it,” as the Princess had said? Anguish now fell upon Henry; there was no consolation anywhere to be found.
He went over again all the details of the story he had heard, and himself filled up the links in the chain. How brutal it was of Michael to have induced her to stay—even if she remained of her own accord—and then the frightful thoughtless recklessness of letting her go off afterwards just because he was angry! Wild fury blazed up against his old friend. The poor darling little girl to be left to suffer all alone! Oh! how tender and passionately devoted he would have been under the same circumstances. Would Michael ever make her happy or take proper care of her? He paced his room, his mind racked with pain. Every single turn of events came back to him, and his own incredible blindness. How had he been so unseeing? How, to begin with, had he not recalled the name of Sabine as being the one he had read long ago in the paper as that of the girl whom Michael had gone through the ceremony of marriage with? It had faded completely from his memory. Everything seemed to have combined to lead him on to predestined disaster and misery—even in Sabine’s and Michael’s combining to keep the matter secret from him not to cause him pain—all had augmented the suffering now. If—but there was no good in contemplating ifs—what he had to do was to think clearly as to what would be the wisest course to secure his darling’s happiness. That must be his first consideration. After that, he must face his own cruel fate with what courage he could command.