He glanced up at her; she was lying back in a great leather chair now, looking so fragile and weary, he could not say what he intended. Then Jake rose leisurely and put his two fat forepaws up on her knees and snorted as was his habit when he approved of any one. And she bent down and kissed his broad wrinkles.
It all looked so homelike and peaceful! Suddenly scorching tears came into Tristram’s eyes and he rose abruptly, and walked to the window. And at that moment the servants brought the teapot and the hot scones.
She poured the tea out silently, and then she spoke a little to Jake, just a few silly, gentle words about his preference for cakes or toast. She was being perfectly adorable, Tristram thought, with her air of pensive, subdued sorrow, and her clinging black dress.
He wished she would suggest going to her room. He could not bear it much longer.
She wondered why he was so restless. And he certainly was changed; he looked haggard and unhappy, more so even than before. And then she remembered how radiantly strong and splendid he had appeared, at dinner on their wedding night, and a lump rose in her throat.
“Henriette will have arrived by now,” she said in a few minutes. “If you will tell me where it is I will go to my room.”
He got up, and she followed him.
“I expect you will find it is the blue, Chinese damask one just at the top of these little stairs.” Then he strode on in front of her quickly, and called out from the top, “Yes, it is, and your maid is here.”
And as she came up the low, short steps, they met on the turn, and stopped.
“Good night,” he said. “I will have some soup and suitable things for an invalid sent up to you; and then you must sleep well, and not get up in the morning. I shall be very busy to-morrow. I have a great many things to do before I go on Monday. I am going away for a long time.”
She held on to the banisters for a minute, but the shadows were so deceiving, with all the black oak, that he was not sure what her expression said. Her words were a very low “Thank you—I will try to sleep. Good night.”
And she went up to her room, and Tristram went on, downstairs—a deeper ache than ever in his heart.
It was not until luncheon time that Zara came down, next day. She felt he did not wish to see her, and she lay there in her pretty, old, quaint room, and thought of many things, and the wreck of their lives, above all. And she thought of Mirko and her mother, and the tears came to her eyes. But that grief was past, in its bitterness; she knew it was much better so.
The thought of Tristram’s going tore her very soul, and swallowed up all other grief.
“I cannot, cannot bear it!” she moaned to herself.
He was sitting gazing into the fire, when she timidly came into his sitting-room. She had been too unhappy to sleep much and was again looking very pale.