“She may close her teeth on whatever bit you use, and bolt with it. Do not say afterwards that I let you take her blindly.”
“Why does she look at me with such hate?” Lord Tancred was just going to ask—and then he stopped himself. It was characteristic of him that now he had made up his mind he would not descend to questions or details—he would find all out later for himself—but one thing he must know: had she really consented to marry him? If so, she had her own reasons, of course, and desire for himself was not among them; but, somehow, he felt sure they were not sordid or paltry ones. He had always liked dangerous games—the most unbroken polo ponies to train in the country, the freshest horses, the fiercest beasts to stalk and kill—and why not a difficult wife? It would add an adorable spice to the affair. But as he was very honest with himself he knew, underneath, that it was not wholly even this instinct, but that she had cast some spell over him and that he must have her for his own.
“You might very well ask her history,” Francis Markrute said. He could be so gracious when he liked, and he really admired the wholehearted dash with which Lord Tancred had surrendered; there was something big and royal about it—he himself never gambled in small sums either. “So as I expect you won’t,” he continued, “I will tell you. She is the daughter of Maurice Grey, a brother of old Colonel Grey of Hentingdon, whom everybody knew, and she has been the widow of an unspeakable brute for over a year. She was an immaculate wife, and devoted daughter before that. The possibilities of her temperament are all to come.”
Lord Tancred sprang from his chair, the very thought of her and her temperament made him thrill. Was it possible he was already in love, after one evening?
“Now we must really discuss affairs, my dear boy,” the financier went on. “Her dower, as I told you, will be princely.”
“That I absolutely refuse to do, Francis,” Lord Tancred answered. “I tell you I want the woman for my wife. You can settle the other things with my lawyer if you care to, and tie it all up on her. I am not interested in that matter. The only thing I really wish to know is if you are sure she will marry me?”
“I am perfectly sure.” The financier narrowed his eyes. “I would not have suggested the affair to-day if I had had any doubt about that.”
“Then it is settled, and I shall not ask why. I shall not ask any thing. Only when may I see her again and how soon can we be married?”
“Come and lunch with me in the city to-morrow, and we will talk over everything. I shall have seen her, and can then tell you when to present yourself. And I suppose you can have the ceremony at the beginning of November?”
“Six whole weeks hence!” Lord Tancred said, protestingly. “Must she get such heaps of clothes? Can’t it be sooner? I wanted to be here for my Uncle Glastonbury’s first shoot on the 2nd of November, and if we are only married then, we shall be off on a honeymoon. You must come to that shoot, by-the-way, old boy, it is the pleasantest of the whole lot he has; one day at the partridges, and a dash at the pheasants; but he only asks the jolliest parties to this early one, for Ethelrida’s birthday, and none of the bores.”