So near to savages are all human beings, when certain passions are aroused. And neither bride nor bridegroom guessed that fate would soon take things out of their hands and make their resolutions null and void.
The gardens at Wrayth were famous. The natural beauty of their position and the endless care of generations of loving mistresses had left them a monument of what nature can be trained into by human skill. They had also in the eighteenth century by some happy chance escaped the hand of Capability Brown. And instead of pulling about and altering the taste of the predecessor the successive owners had used fresh ground for their fancies. Thus the English rose-garden and the Dutch-clipped yews of William-and-Mary’s time were as intact as the Italian parterre.
But November is not the time to judge of gardens, and Tristram wished the sun would come out. He waited for his bride at the foot of the Adam staircase, and, at eleven, she came down. He watched her as she put one slender foot before the other in her descent, he had not noticed before how ridiculously inadequate they were—just little bits of baby feet, even in her thick walking-boots. She certainly knew how to dress—and adapt herself to the customs of a country. Her short, serge frock and astrakhan coat and cap were just the things for the occasion; and she looked so attractive and chic, with her hands in her monster muff, he began to have that pain again of longing for her, so he said icily:
“The sky is gray and horrid. You must not judge of things as you will see them to-day; it is all really rather nice in the summer.”
“I am sure it is,” she answered meekly, and then could not think of anything else to say, so they walked on in silence through the courtyard and round under a deep, arched doorway in the Norman wall to the southern side of the Adam erection, with its pillars making the centerpiece. The beautiful garden stretched in front of them. This particular part was said to have been laid out from plans of Le Notre, brought there by that French Lady Tancred who had been the friend of Louis XIV. There were traces of her all over the house—Zara found afterwards. It was a most splendid and stately scene even in the dull November gloom, with the groups of statuary, and the tapis vert, and the general look of Versailles. The vista was immense. She could see far beyond, down an incline, through a long clearing in the park, far away to the tower of Wrayth church.
“How beautiful it all is!” she said, with bated breath, and clasped her hands in her muff. “And how wonderful to have the knowledge that your family has been here always, and these splendid things are their creation. I understand that you must be a very proud man.”
This was almost the longest speech he had ever heard her make, in ordinary conversation—the first one that contained any of her thoughts. He looked at her startled for a moment, but his resolutions of the night before and his mood of suspicion caused him to remain unmoved. He was numb with the pain of being melted one moment with hope and frozen again the next; it had come to a pass now that he would not let himself respond. She could almost have been as gracious as she pleased, out in this cold, damp air, and he would have remained aloof.