And now that she knew what the passion of love meant herself, she better understood how her mother had loved. She had never judged her mother, it was not in her nature to judge any one; underneath the case of steel which her bitter life had wrought her, Zara’s heart was as tender as an angel’s.
Then she thought of the words in the Second Commandment: “And the sins of the fathers shall be visited upon the children.” Had they sinned, then? And if so how terribly cruel such Commandments were—to make the innocent children suffer. Mirko and she were certainly paying some price. But the God that Maman had gone to and loved and told her children of, was not really cruel, and some day perhaps she—Zara—would come into peace on earth. And Mirko? Mirko would be up there, happy and safe with Maman.
The cheap clock showed nearly half-past seven. She could not wait another moment, and also she reasoned if Mimo were sending her a telegram it would be to Park Lane. He knew she was coming up; she would get it there on her return, so she scribbled a line to Count Sykypri, and told him she had been—and why—and that she must hear at once, and then she left and hurried back to her uncle’s house. And when she got there it was twenty minutes to eight.
Her maid had been dreadfully worried, as she had given no orders as to what she would wear—but Henriette, being a person of intelligence, had put out what she thought best,—only she could not prevent her anxiety and impatience from causing her to go on to the landing, and hang over the stairs at every noise; and Tristram, coming out of his room already dressed, found her there—and asked her what she was doing.
“I wait for Miladi, Milor, she have not come in,” Henriette said. “And I so fear Miladi will be late.”
Tristram felt his heart stop beating for a second—strong man as he was. Miladi had not come in!—But as they spoke, he perceived her on the landing below, hurrying up—she had not waited to get the lift—and he went down to meet her, while Henriette returned to her room.
“Where have you been?” he demanded, with a pale, stern face. He was too angry and suspicious to let her pass in silence, and he noticed her cheeks were flushed with nervous excitement and that she was out of breath; and no wonder, for she had run up the stairs.
“I cannot wait to tell you now,” she panted. “And what right have you to speak to me so? Let me pass, or I shall be late.”
“I do not care if you are late, or no. You shall answer me!” he said furiously, barring the way. “You bear my name, at all events, and I have a right because of that to know.”
“Your name?” she said, vaguely, and then for the first time she grasped that there was some insulting doubt of her in his words.
She cast upon him a look of withering scorn, and, with the air of an empress commanding an insubordinate guard, she flashed: