“It is very hard, Helene,” he said, “to make you altogether understand the situation, for there are certain phases of it which I cannot discuss with you at all. I have made my first effort to regain Lucille, and it has failed. It is not her fault. I need not say that it is not mine. But the struggle has commenced, and in the end I shall win.”
“Lucille herself—” Helene began hesitatingly.
“Lucille is, I firmly believe, as anxious to return to me as I am anxious to have her,” Mr. Sabin said.
Helene threw up her hands.
“It is bewildering,” she exclaimed.
“It must seem so to you,” Mr. Sabin admitted.
“I wish that Lucille were anywhere else,” Helene said. “The Dorset House set, you know, although they are very smart and very exclusive, have a somewhat peculiar reputation. Lady Carey, although she is such a brilliant woman, says and does the most insolent, the most amazing things, and the Prince of Saxe Leinitzer goes everywhere in Europe by the name of the Royal libertine. They are powerful enough almost to dominate society, and we poor people who abide by the conventions are absolutely nowhere beside them. They think that we are bourgeois because we have virtue, and prehistoric because we are not decadent.”
“The Duke—” Mr. Sabin remarked.
“Oh, the Duke is quite different, of course,” Helene admitted. “He is a fanatical Tory, very stupid, very blind to anything except his beloved Primrose League. How he came to lend himself to the vagaries of such a set I cannot imagine.”
Mr. Sabin smiled.
“C’est la femme toujours!” he remarked. “His Grace is, I fear, henpecked, and the Duchess herself is the sport of cleverer people. And now, my dear niece, I see that the time is going. I came to know if you could get me a card for the ball at Carmarthen House to-night.”
Helene laughed softly.
“Very easily, my dear uncle. Lady Carmarthen is Wolfendon’s cousin, you know, and a very good friend of mine. I have half a dozen blank cards here. Shall I really see you there?”
“I believe so,” Mr. Sabin answered.
“It is possible.”
“There is nothing I suppose which I can do in the way of intervention, or anything of that sort?”
Mr. Sabin shook his head.
“Lucille and I are the best of friends,” he answered. “Talk to her, if you will. By the bye, is that twelve o’clock? I must hurry. Doubtless we shall meet again at the ball.”
But Carmarthen House saw nothing of Mr. Sabin that night.
Mr. Sabin from his seat behind a gigantic palm watched her egress from the supper-room with a little group of friends.
They came to a halt in the broad carpeted way only a few feet from him. Lady Carey, in a wonderful green gown, her neck and bosom ablaze with jewels, seemed to be making her farewells.