And it would seem that fate at first intended to assist him in this, for on the second of November the party went up North to stay with Rose Forster, Henry’s sister, at Ebbsworth for a great ball she was giving for a newly married niece.
For a day or two, Michael Arranstoun could not make up his mind, when he heard of the Ebbsworth ball, as to whether or no he ought to go to it. He had several conversations with Binko upon the subject, and finally came to the conclusion that he would go. He had grown so desperately unhappy by this time, that he cared no more whether it were right or wrong—he must see Sabine. He had not believed that it could be possible for him to suffer to such a degree about a woman. He must satisfy himself absolutely as to the fact of her loving Henry.
Rose Forster had written, of course, to ask him to stay in the house for it—holding out the bait that she had two absolutely charming Americans coming. So Michael fell—and accepted, not without excusing himself to Binko as he finished writing out his wire:
Thousand thanks. I will come.
“I am a coward, Binko—I ought to have the pluck to go off to Timbuctoo and let Henry have a fair field—but I haven’t and must be certain first.”
They were all at tea in the library at Ebbsworth when he arrived, having motored over from Arranstoun after lunch.
Everyone was enchanted to see him, and greeted him with delight. He knew almost the whole twenty of them, most of whom were old friends.
The hostess took him over to the tea table, and sitting near it in a ravishing tea-gown was Moravia. Rose Forster introduced him casually, while she poured him out some tea.
The library was a big room with one or two tall screens, and from behind the furthest one there came a low, rippling laugh. The sound of it maddened Michael, and his bold blue eyes blazed as he began to talk to the Princess. His naturally easy manners made him able to carry on some kind of a conversation, but his whole attention was fixed upon the whereabouts of Sabine. She was with Henry, of course, behind that Spanish leather screen. He hardly even noticed that Moravia was a very pretty woman, most wonderfully dressed; but he felt she was a powerful unit in his game of getting Sabine to Arranstoun, and so he endeavored to make himself agreeable to her.