Tristram passed the afternoon outdoors, inspecting the stables, and among his own favorite haunts, and then rushed in, too late for tea and only just in time to catch the post. He wrote a letter to Ethelrida, and his uncle-in-law that was to be. How ridiculous that sounded! He would be his uncle and Zara’s cousin now, by marriage! Then, when he thought of this dear Ethelrida whom he had loved more than his own young sisters, he hurriedly wrote out, as well, a telegram of affection and congratulation which he handed to Michelham as he came in to get the letters—and the old man left the room. Then Tristram remembered that he had addressed the telegram to Montfitchet, and Ethelrida would, of course, he now recollected, be at Glastonbury House, as she was coming up that day—so he went to the door and called out:
“Michelham, bring me back the telegram.”
And the grave servant, who was collecting all the other letters from the post-box in the hall, returned and placed beside his master on the table a blue envelope. There were always big blue envelopes, for the sending of telegrams, on all the writing tables at Wrayth.
Tristram hurriedly wrote out another and handed it, and the servant finally left the room. Then he absently pulled out his original one and glanced at it before tearing it up; and before he realized what he did his eye caught: “To Count Mimo Sykypri”—he did not read the address—“Immediately, to-morrow, wire me your news. Cherisette.”
And ere his rage burst in a terrible oath he noticed that stamps were enclosed. Then he threw the paper with violence into the fire!
There was not any more doubt nor speculation; a woman did not sign herself “Cherisette”—“little darling”—except to a lover! Cherisette! He was so mad with rage that if she had come into the room at that moment he would have strangled her, there and then.
He forgot that it was time to dress for dinner—forgot everything but his overmastering fury. He paced up and down the room, and then after a while, as ever, his balance returned. The law could give him no redress yet: she certainly had not been unfaithful to him in their brief married life, and the law recks little of sins committed before the tie. Nothing could come now of going to her and reproaching her—only a public scandal and disgrace. No, he must play his part until he could consult with Francis Markrute, learn all the truth, and then concoct some plan. Out of all the awful ruin of his life he could at least save his name. And after some concentrated moments of agony he mastered himself at last sufficiently to go to his room and dress for dinner.
But Count Mimo Sykypri would get no telegram that night!