“Yes, I suppose I am a proud man,” he said, “but it is not much good to me; one becomes a cynic, as one grows older.”
Then with casual indifference he began to explain to her all about the gardens and their dates, as they walked along, just as though he were rather bored but acting cicerone to an ordinary guest, and Zara’s heart sank lower and lower, and she could not keep up her little plan to be gentle and sympathetic; she could not do more than say just “Yes,” and “No.” Presently they came through a door to the hothouses, and she had to be introduced to the head gardener, a Scotchman, and express her admiration of everything, and eat some wonderful grapes; and here Tristram again “played the game,” and chaffed, and was gay. And so they went out, and through a clipped, covered walk to another door in a wall, which opened on the west side—the very old part of the house—and suddenly she saw the Italian parterre. Each view as she came upon it she tried to identify with what she had seen in the pictures in Country Life, but things look so different in reality, with the atmospheric effects, to the cold gray of a print. Only there was no mistake about this—the Italian parterre; and a sudden tightness grew round her heart, and she thought of Mirko and the day she had last seen him. And Tristram was startled into looking at her by a sudden catching of her breath, and to his amazement he perceived that her face was full of pain, as though she had revisited some scene connected with sorrowful memories. There was even a slight drawing back in her attitude, as if she feared to go on, and meet some ghost. What could it be? Then the malevolent sprite who was near him just now whispered: “It is an Italian garden, she has seen such before in other lands; perhaps the man is an Italian—he looks dark enough.” So instead of feeling solicitous and gentle with whatever caused her pain—for his manners were usually extremely courteous, however cold—he said almost roughly:
“This seems to make you think of something! Well, let us get on and get it over, and then you can go in!”
He would be no sympathetic companion for her sentimental musings—over another man!
Her lips quivered for a moment, and he saw that he had struck home, and was glad, and grew more furious as he strode along. He would like to hurt her again if he could, for jealousy can turn an angel into a cruel fiend. They walked on in silence, and a look almost of fear crept into her tragic eyes. She dreaded so to come upon Pan and his pipes. Yes, as they descended the stone steps, there he was in the far distance with his back to them, forever playing his weird music for the delight of all growing things.
She forgot Tristram, forgot she was passionately preoccupied with him and passionately in love, forgot even that she was not alone. She saw the firelight again, and the pitiful, little figure of her poor, little brother as he poured over the picture, pointing with his sensitive forefinger to Pan’s shape. She could hear his high, childish voice say: “See, Cherisette, he, too, is not made as other people are! Look, and he plays music, also. When I am with Maman and you walk there you must remember that this is me!”