And if Zara’s week of separation from him had been grief and suffering, his had been hell.
On the Saturday morning, after her uncle had started for Dover, a note, sent by hand, was brought to Zara. It was again only a few words, merely to say if it was convenient to her, he—Tristram—would come at two o’clock, as he was motoring down to Wrayth at three, and was leaving England on Monday night.
Her hand trembled too much to write an answer.
“Tell the messenger I will be here,” she said; and she sat then for a long time, staring in front of her.
Then a thought came to her. Whether she were well enough or no she must go and question Jenny. So, to the despair of her maid, she wrapped herself in furs and started. She felt extremely faint when she got into the air, but her will pulled her through, and when she got there the little servant put her doubts at rest.
Yes, a very tall, handsome gentleman had come a few minutes after herself, and she had taken him up, thinking he was the doctor.
“Why, missus,” she said, “he couldn’t have stayed a minute. He come away while the Count was playin’ his fiddle.”
So this was how it was! Her thoughts were all in a maze: she could not reason. And when she got back to the Park Lane house she felt too feeble to go any further, even to the lift.
Her maid came and took her furs from her, and she lay on the library sofa, after Henriette had persuaded her to have a little chicken broth; and then she fell into a doze, and was awakened only by the sound of the electric bell. She knew it was her husband coming, and sat up, with a wildly beating heart. Her trembling limbs would not support her as she rose for his entrance, and she held on by the back of a chair.
And, grave and pale with the torture he had been through, Tristram came into the room.
He stopped dead short when he saw her so white and fragile looking. Then he exclaimed, “Zara—you have been ill!”
“Yes,” she faltered.
“Why did they not tell me?” he said hurriedly, and then recollected himself. How could they? No one, not even his servant, knew where he had been.
She dropped back unsteadily on the sofa.
“Uncle Francis did telegraph to you, to Wrayth, but you were not there,” she said.
He bit his lips—he was so very moved. How was he to tell her all the things he had come to say so coldly, with her looking so pitiful, so gentle? His one longing was to take her to his heart and comfort her, and make her forget all pain.
And she was so afraid of her own weakness, she felt she could not bear to hear her death-knell, yet. If she could only gain a little time! It was characteristic of her that she never dreamed of defending herself. She still had not the slightest idea that he suspected Mimo of being her lover. Tristram’s anger with her was just because he was an Englishman—very straight and simple—who could brook no deception! that is what she thought.