What had happened? With unerring accuracy, she had marshaled just those words that were calculated to wound him most deeply, like arrows aimed at his weakest points. She had tipped them with a poison distilled from the misgivings that preyed on him most. He should have stopped to reflect on the extraordinary efficacy of this poison. He should have tried to decide just why such a crystallization of pure malice had occurred.
But his heart was thumping in his chest, and his hands shook. Bitter anger so overwhelmed him that he was close to tears. He could not be objective and coolly analyze the emotion that wracked him. Worse yet, he had to rejoin the guests. And later in the evening there would be no escape; he would have to make pleasant conversation as though nothing were troubling him. He could imagine no task that he felt less fit to perform.