But Mirko was better - decidedly better - the attack had again been very
short. So she felt reassured for the moment, and was preparing to go
when she remembered that one of the things she had come for was to give
Mimo some money in notes which she had prepared for him; but, knowing
the poor gentleman's character, she was going to do it delicately by
buying the "Apache!" For she was quite aware that just money, for him to
live, now that it was not a question of the welfare of Mirko, he would
never accept from her.
In such unpractical, sentimental ways does
breeding show itself in some weak natures!
Mimo was almost suspicious of the transaction, and she was obliged to
soothe and flatter him by saying that he must surely always have
understood how intensely she had admired that work; and now she was rich
it would be an everlasting pleasure to her to own it for her very own.
So poor Mimo _was_ comforted, and they parted after a while, all
arrangements having been made that the telegrams - should any more
come - were to go first, addressed to her at Neville Street, so that the
poor father should see them and then send them on.
And as it was now past eleven o'clock Zara returned quickly back to Park
Lane and was coming in at the door just as her husband was descending
"You are up very early, Milady," he said casually, and because of the
servants in the hall she felt it would look better to follow him into
Tristram was surprised at this and he longed to ask her where she had
been, but she did not tell him; she just said,
"What time do we arrive at your uncle's? Is it five or six?"
"It only takes three hours. We shall be in about five. And, Zara, I want
you to wear the sable coat. I think it suits you better than the
chinchilla you had when we left."
A little pink came into her cheeks. This was the first time he had ever
spoken of her clothes; and to hide the sudden strange emotion she felt,
she said coldly.
"Yes, I intended to. I shall always hate that chinchilla coat."
And he turned away to the window, stung again by her words which she had
said unconsciously. The chinchilla had been her conventional "going
away" bridal finery. That was, of course, why she hated the remembrance
As soon as she had said the words she felt sorry. What on earth made her
so often wound him? She did not know it was part of the same instinct of
self-defense which had had to make up her whole attitude towards life.
Only this time it was unconsciously to hide and so defend the new
emotion which was creeping into her heart.
He stayed with his back turned, looking out of the window; so, after
waiting a moment, she went from the room.
At the station they found Jimmy Danvers, and a Mr. and Mrs. Harcourt
with the latter's sister, Miss Opie, and several men. The rest of the
party, including Emily and Mary, Jimmy told them, had gone down by the
eleven o'clock train.
Both Mrs. Harcourt and her sister and, indeed, the whole company were
Tristram's old and intimate friends and they were so delighted to see
him, and chaffed and were gay, and Zara watched, and saw that her uncle
entered into the spirit of the fun in the saloon, and only she was a
stranger and out in the cold.
As for Tristram, he seemed to become a different person to the stern,
constrained creature of the past week, and he sat in a corner with Mrs.
Harcourt, and bent over her and chaffed and whispered in her ear, and
she - Zara - was left primly in one of the armchairs, a little aloof. But
such a provoking looking type of beauty as hers did not long leave the
men of the party cold to her charms; and soon Jimmy Danvers joined her
and a Colonel Lowerby, commonly known as "the Crow," and she held a
little court. But to relax and be genial and unregal was so difficult
for her, with the whole contrary training of all her miserable life.
Hitherto men and, indeed, often women were things to be kept at a
distance, as in one way or another they were sure to bite!
And after a while the party adjusted itself, some for bridge and some
for sleep; and Jimmy Danvers and Colonel Lowerby went into the small
compartment to smoke.
"Well, Crow," said Jimmy, "what do you think of Tristram's new lady?
Isn't she a wonder? But, Jehoshaphat! doesn't she freeze you to death!"
"Very curious type," growled the Crow. "Bit of Vesuvius underneath, I
"Yes, that is what a fellow'd think to look at her," Jimmy said, puffing
at his cigarette. "But she keeps the crust on the top all the time; the
bloomin' volcano don't get a chance!"
"She doesn't look stupid," continued the Crow. "She looks stormy - expect
it's pretty well worth while, though, when she melts."
"Poor old Tristram don't look as if he had had a taste of paradise with
his houri, for his week, does he? Before we'd heartened him up on the
platform a bit - give you my word - he looked as mum as an owl," Jimmy
said. "And she looked like an iceberg, as she's done all the time. I've
never seen her once warm up."
"He's awfully in love with her," grunted the Crow.
"I believe that is about the measure, though I can't see how you've
guessed it. You had not got back for the wedding, Crow, and it don't
The Crow laughed - one of his chuckling, cynical laughs which to his dear
friend Lady Anningford meant so much that was in his mind.
"Oh, doesn't it!" he said.
"Well, tell me, what do you really think of her?" Jimmy went on. "You
see, I was best man at the wedding, and I feel kind of responsible if
she is going to make the poor, old boy awfully unhappy."
"She's unhappy herself," said the Crow. "It's because she is unhappy
she's so cold. She reminds me of a rough terrier I bought once, when I
was a lad, from a particularly brutal bargeman. It snarled at every one
who came near it, before they could show if they were going to kick or
not, just from force of habit."
"Well?" questioned Jimmy, who, as before has been stated, was rather
"Well, after I had had it for a year it was the most faithful and the
gentlest dog I ever owned. That sort of creature wants oceans of
kindness. Expect Tristram's pulled the curb - doesn't understand as yet."
"Why, how could a person who must always have had heaps of
cash - Markrute's niece, you know - and a fine position be like your dog,
Crow? You _are_ drawing it!"
"Well, you need not mind what I say, Jimmy," Colonel Lowerby went on.
"Judge for yourself. You asked my opinion, and as I am an old friend of
the family I've given it, and time will show."
"Lady Highford's going to be at Montfitchet," Jimmy announced after a
pause. "She won't make things easy for any one, will she!"
"How did that happen?" asked the Crow in an astonished voice.
"Ethelrida had asked her in the season, when every one supposed the
affair was still on, and I expect she would not let them put her off - "
And then both men looked up at the door, for Tristram peeped in.
"We shall be arriving in five minutes, you fellows," he said.
And soon they drew up at the little Tylling Green station, and the
saloon was switched off, while the express flew on to King's Lynn.
There were motor cars and an omnibus to meet them, and Lady Ethelrida's
own comfortable coupé for the bridal pair. They might just want to say a
few words together alone before arriving, she had kindly thought. And
so, though neither of the two were very eager for this tête-à-tête, they
got in and started off. The little coupé had very powerful engines and
flew along, so they were well ahead of the rest of the party and would
get to the house first, which was what the hostess had calculated upon.
Then Tristram could have the pleasure of presenting his bride to the
assembled company at tea, without the interruptions of the greetings of
the other folk.
Zara felt excited. She was beginning to realize that these English
people were all of her dead father's class, not creatures whom one must
beware of until one knew whether or not they were gamblers or rogues.
And it made her breathe more freely, and the black panther's look died
out of her eyes. She did not feel nervous, as she well might have
done - only excited and highly worked up. Tristram, for his part, wished
to heaven Ethelrida had not arranged to send the coupé for them. It was
such a terrible temptation for him to resist for five miles, sitting so
near her all alone in the dusk of the afternoon! He clenched his hands
under the rug, and drew as far away from her as he could; and she
glanced at him and wondered, almost timidly, why he looked so stern.
"I hope you will tell me, if there is anything special you wish me to
do, please?" she said. "Because, you see, I have never been in the
English country before, and my uncle has given me to understand the
customs are different to those abroad."
He felt he could not look at her; the unusual gentleness in her voice
was so alluring, and he had not forgotten the hurt of the chinchilla
coat. If he relented in his attitude at all she would certainly snub him
again; so he continued staring in front of him, and answered ordinarily,
"I expect you will do everything perfectly right, and every one will
only want to be kind to you, and make you have a good time; and my uncle
will certainly make love to you but you must not mind that."
And Zara allowed herself to smile as she answered,
"No, I shall not in the least object to that!"
He knew she was smiling - out of the corner of his eye - and the
temptation to clasp her to him was so overpowering that he said rather
hoarsely, "Do you mind if I put the window down?"
He must have some air; he was choking. She wondered more and more what
was the matter with him, and they both fell into a constrained silence
which lasted until they turned into the park gates; and Zara peered out
into the ghostly trees, with their autumn leaves nearly off, and tried
to guess from the lodge what the house would be like.
It was very enormous and stately, she found when they reached it, and,
she walking with her empress air and Tristram following her, they at
last came to the picture gallery where the rest of the party, who had
arrived earlier, were all assembled in the center, by one of the big
fireplaces, with their host and hostess having tea.
The Duke and Lady Ethelrida came forward, down the very long, narrow
room (they had quite sixty feet to walk before they met them), and
then, when they did, they both kissed Zara - their beautiful new
relation! - and Lady Ethelrida taking her arm drew her towards the party,
while she whispered,
"You dear, lovely thing! Ever so many welcomes to the family and
And Zara suddenly felt a lump in her throat. How she had misjudged them
all in her hurt ignorance! And determining to repair her injustice she
advanced with a smile and was presented to the group.
There was a good deal of running into each other's rooms before dressing
for dinner among the ladies at Montfitchet, that night. They had, they
felt, to exchange views about the new bride! And the opinions were
favorable, on the whole; unanimous, as to her beauty and magnetic
attraction; divided, as to her character; but fiercely and venomously
antagonistic in one mean, little heart.
Emily and Mary and Lady Betty Burns clustered together in the latter's
room. "We think she is perfectly lovely, Betty," Emily said, "but we
don't know her as yet. She is rather stiff, and frightens us just a
little. Perhaps she is shy. What do you think?"
"She looks just like the heroines in some of the books that Mamma does
not let me read and I am obliged to take up to bed with me. Don't you
know, Mary - especially the one I lent you - deeply, mysteriously tragic.
You remember the one who killed her husband and then went off with the
Italian Count; and then with some one else. It was frightfully
"Good gracious! Betty," exclaimed Emily. "How dreadful! You don't think
our sister-in-law looks like that?"
"I really don't know," said Lady Betty, who was nineteen and wrote lurid
melodramas - to the waste of much paper and the despair of her mother. "I
don't know. I made one of my heroines in my last play have just those
passionate eyes - and she stabbed the villain in the second act!"
"Yes, but," said Mary, who felt she must defend Tristram's wife, "Zara
isn't in a play and there is no villain, and - why, Betty, no one has
tragedies in real life!"
Lady Betty tossed her flaxen head, while she announced a prophecy, with
an air of deep wisdom which positively frightened the other two girls.
"You mark my words, both of you, Emily and Mary - they will have some
tragedy before the year is out! And I shall put it all in my next play."
And with this fearful threat ringing in their ears Tristram's two
sisters walked in a scared fashion to their room.
"Betty is wonderful, isn't she, darling?" Mary said. "But, Em, you don't
think there is any truth in it, do you? Mother would be so horribly
shocked if there was anything like one of Betty's plays in the family,
wouldn't she? And Tristram would never allow it either!"
"Of course not, you goosie," answered Emily. "But Betty is right in one
way - Zara has got a mysterious face, and - and, Mary - Tristram seemed
somehow changed, I thought; rather sarcastic once or twice."
And then their maid came in and put a stop to their confidences.
* * * * *
"She is the most wonderful person I have ever met, Ethelrida," Lady
Anningford was just then saying, as she and the hostess stopped at her
door and let Lady Thornby and the young Countess of Melton go on. - "She
is wickedly beautiful and attractive, and there is something odd about
her, too, and it touches me; and I don't believe she is really wicked a
bit. Her eyes are like storm clouds. I have heard her first husband was
a brute. I can't think who told me but it came from some one at one of
"We don't know much about her, any of us," Lady Ethelrida said, "but
Aunt Jane asked us all in the beginning to trust Tristram's judgment: he
is awfully proud, you know. And besides, her uncle, Mr. Markrute, is so
nice. But, Anne - " and Lady Ethelrida paused.
"Well, what, dear? Tristram is awfully in love with her, isn't he?" Lady
"Yes," said Lady Ethelrida, "but, Anne, do you really think Tristram
looks happy? I thought when he was not speaking his face seemed rather
"The Crow came down in the train with them," Lady Anningford announced.
"I'll hear the whole exact impression of them after dinner and tell you.
The Crow is always right."
"She is so very attractive, I am sure, to every man who sees her, Anne.
I hope Lord Elterton won't begin and make Tristram jealous. I wish I had
not asked him. And then there is Laura - It was awful taste, I think, her
insisting upon coming, don't you? - Anne, if she seems as if she were
going to be horrid you will help me to protect Zara, won't you? - And now
we really must dress."
* * * * *
In another room Mrs. Harcourt was chatting with her sister and Lady
"She is perfectly lovely, Laura," Miss Opie said. "Her hair must reach
down to the ground and looks as if it would not come off, and her skin
isn't even powdered - I examined it, on purpose, in a side light. And
those eyes! Je-hoshaphat! as Jimmy Danvers says."
"Poor, darling Tristram!" Laura sighed sentimentally while she inwardly
registered her intense dislike of "the Opie girl." "He looks melancholy
enough - for a bridegroom; don't you think so, Kate?" and she lowered her
eyes, with a glance of would-be meaning, as though she could say more,
if she wished. "But no wonder, poor dear boy! He loathed the marriage;
it was so fearfully sudden. I suppose the Markrute man had got him in
"You don't say so!" Mrs. Harcourt gasped. She was a much simpler person
than her sister. "Jimmy assured me that Lord Tancred was violently in
love with her, and that was it."
"Jimmy always was a fool," Lady Highford said, and as they went on to
their rooms Lily Opie whispered,
"Kate, Laura Highford is an odious cat, and I don't believe a word about
Mr. Markrute and the getting Lord Tancred into his power. That is only
to make a salve for herself. The Duke would never have Mr. Markrute here
if there was anything fishy about him. Why, ducky, you know it is the
only house left in England, almost, where they have only US!"
* * * * *
Tristram was ready for dinner in good time but he hesitated about
knocking at his wife's door. If she did not let him know she was ready
he would send Higgins to ask for her maid.
His eyes were shining with the pride he felt in her. She had indeed come
up to the scratch. He had not believed it possible that she could have
been so gracious, and he had not even guessed that she would condescend
to speak so much. And all his old friends had been so awfully nice
about her and honestly admiring; except Arthur Elterton - _he_ had
admired rather too much!
And then this exaltation somewhat died down. It was after all but a very
poor, outside show, when, in reality, he could not even knock at her
He wished now he had never let his pride hurl forth that ultimatum on
the wedding night, because he would have to stick to it! He could not
make the slightest advance, and it did not look as if she meant to do
so. Tristram in an ordinary case when his deep feelings were not
concerned would have known how to display a thousand little tricks for
the allurement of a woman, would have known exactly how to cajole her,
to give her a flower, and hesitate when he spoke her name - and a number
of useful things - but he was too terribly in earnest to be anything but
a real, natural man; that is, hurt from her coldness and diffident of
himself, and iron-bound with pride.
And Zara at the other side of the door felt almost happy. It was the
first evening in her life she had ever dressed without some heavy burden
of care. Her self-protective, watchful instincts could rest for a while;
these new relations were truly, not only seemingly, so kind. The only
person she immediately and instinctively disliked was Lady Highford who
had gushed and said one or two bitter-sweet things which she had not
clearly nor literally understood, but which, she felt, were meant to be
And her husband, Tristram! It was plain to be seen every one loved
him - from the old Duke, to the old setter by the fire. And how was it
possible for them all to love a man, when - and then her thoughts
unconsciously turned to _if_ - he were capable of so base a thing as his
marriage with her had been? Was it possible there could be any mistake?
On the first opportunity she would question her uncle; and although she
knew that gentleman would only tell her exactly as much as he wished her
to know, that much would be the truth.
Dinner was to be at half-past eight. She ought to be punctual, she knew;
but it was all so wonderful, and refined, and old-world, in her charming
room, she felt inclined to dawdle and look around.
It was a room as big as her mother's had been, in the gloomy castle near
Prague, but it was full of cozy touches - beyond the great gilt state
bed, which she admired immensely - and with which she instinctively felt
only the English - and only such English - know how to endow their
Then she roused herself. She _must_ dress. Fortunately her hair did not
take any time to twist up.
"_Miladi_ is a dream!" Henriette exclaimed when at last she was ready.
"_Milor_ will be proud!"
And he was.
She sent Henriette to knock at his door - his door in the passage - not
the one between their rooms! - just on the stroke of half-past eight. He
was at that moment going to send Higgins on a like errand! and his sense
of humor at the grotesqueness of the situation made him laugh a bitter
The two servants as the messengers! - when he ought to have been in there
himself, helping to fix on her jewels, and playing with her hair, and
perhaps kissing exquisite bits of her shoulders when the maid was not
looking, or fastening her dress!
Well, the whole thing was a ghastly farce that must be got through; he
would take up politics, and be a wonderful landlord to the people at
Wrayth; and somehow, he would get through with it, and no one should
ever know, from him, of his awful mistake.
He hardly allowed himself to tell her she looked very beautiful as they
walked along the great corridor. She was all in deep sapphire-blue
gauze, with no jewels on at all but the Duke's splendid brooch.
That was exquisite of her, he appreciated that fine touch. Indeed, he
appreciated everything about her - if she had known.
People were always more or less on time in this house, and after the
silent hush of admiration caused by the bride's entrance they all began
talking and laughing, and none but Lady Highford and another woman were
And as Zara walked along the white drawing-room, on the old Duke's arm,
she felt that somehow she had got back to a familiar atmosphere, where
she was at rest after long years of strife.
Lady Ethelrida had gone in with the bridegroom - to-night everything was
done with strict etiquette - and on her left hand she had placed the
bride's uncle. The new relations were to receive every honor, it seemed.
And Francis Markrute, as he looked round the table, with the perfection
of its taste, and saw how everything was going on beautifully, felt he
had been justified in his schemes.
Lady Anningford sat beyond Tristram, and often these two talked, so Lady
Ethelrida had plenty of time, without neglecting him, to converse with
her other interesting guest.
"I am so glad you like our old home, Mr. Markrute," she said. "To-morrow
I will show you a number of my favorite haunts. It seems sad, does it
not, as so many people assert, that the times are trending to take all
these dear, old things away from us, and divide them up?"
"It will be a very bad day for England when that time comes," the
financier said. "If only the people could study evolution and the
meaning of things there would not be any of this nonsensical class
hatred. The immutable law is that no one long retains any position
unless he, or she, is suitable for it. Nothing endures that is not
harmonious. It is because England is now out of harmony, that this
seething is going on. You and your race have been fitted for what you
have held for hundreds of years; that is why you have stayed: and your
influence, and such as you, have made England great."
"Then how do you account for the whole thing being now out of joint?"
Lady Ethelrida asked. "As my father and I and, as far as I know, numbers
of us have remained just the same, and have tried as well as we can to
do our duty to every one."
"Have you ever studied the Laws of Lycurgus, Lady Ethelrida?" he asked.
And she shook her sleek, fine head. "Well, they are worth glancing at,
when you have time," he went on. "An immense value was placed upon
discipline, and as long as it lasted in its iron simplicity the Spartans
were the wonder of the then known world. But after their conquest of
Athens, when luxury poured in and every general wanted something for
himself and forgot the good of the state, then their discipline went to
pieces, and, so - the whole thing. And that, applied in a modern way, is
what is happening to England. All classes are forgetting their
discipline, and, without fitting themselves for what they aspire to,
they are trying to snatch from some other class. And the whole thing is
rotten with mawkish sentimentality, and false prudery, and abeyance of
"Yes," said Lady Ethelrida, much interested.
"Lycurgus went to the root of things," the financier continued, "and
made the people morally and physically healthy, and ruthlessly expunged
the unfit - not like our modern nonsense, which encourages science to
keep, among the prospective parents for the future generation, all the
most diseased. Moral and physical balance and proportion were the ideas
of the Spartans. They would not have even been allowed to compete in the
games, if they were misshapen. And the analogy is, no one unfitted for a
part ought to aspire to it, for the public good. Any one has a right to
scream, if he does not obtain it when he is fitted for it."
"Yes, I see," said Lady Ethelrida. "Then what do you mean when you say
every class is trying to snatch something from some other class? Do you
mean from the class above it? Or what? Because unless we, for