“When the others go out for a walk, then, after lunch, yes, you may come.”
And without anything further, they left the room. At the turn in the corridor to the other part of the house, he bent suddenly; and with deep homage kissed her hand, then let her pass on, while he turned to the right and disappeared towards the wing, where was his room.
Zara had, at first, thought she would not go out with the shooters. She felt numb, as if she could not pluck up enough courage to make conversation with any one. She had received a letter from Mimo, by the second post, with all details of what he had heard of Mirko. Little Agatha, the Morleys’ child, was to return home the following day; and Mirko himself had written an excited little letter to announce this event, which Mimo enclosed. He seemed perfectly well then, only at the end, as she would see, he had said he was dreaming of Maman every night; and Mimo knew that this must mean he was a little feverish again, so he had felt it wiser to telegraph. Mirko had written out the score of the air which Maman always came and taught him, and he was longing to play it to his dear Papa and his Cherisette, the letter ended with.
And the pathos of it all caused Zara a sharp pain. She did not dare to look ahead, as far as her little brother was concerned. Indeed, to look ahead, in any case, meant nothing very happy.
She was just going up the great staircase at about a quarter to eleven, with the letter in her hand, when she met Tristram coming from his room, with his shooting boots on, ready to start. He stopped and said coldly—they had not spoken a word yet that day—
“You had better be quick putting your things on. My uncle always starts punctually.”
Then his eye caught the foreign writing on the letter, and he turned brusquely away, although, as he reasoned with himself a moment afterwards, it was ridiculous of him to be so moved, because she would naturally have a number of foreign correspondents. She saw him turn away, and it angered her in spite of her new mood. He need not show his dislike so plainly, she thought. So she answered haughtily,
“I had not intended to come. I am tired; and I do not know this sport, or whether it will please me. I should feel for the poor birds, I expect.”
“I am sorry you are tired,” he answered, contrite in an instant. “Of course, you must not come if you are. They will be awfully disappointed. But never mind. I will tell Ethelrida.”
“It is nothing—my fatigue, I mean. If you think your cousin will mind, I will come.” And she turned, without waiting for him to answer, and went on to her room.
And Tristram, after going back to his for something he had forgotten, presently went on down the stairs, a bitter smile on his face, and at the bottom met—Laura Highford.