They said the usual things about the crossing—it had been smooth and pleasant—so fortunate for that time of the year—and she had stayed on deck and enjoyed it. Yes, Paris had been charming; it was always a delightful spot to find oneself in.
Then Tristram said he was glad she thought that, because, if she would consent, he would arrange to go there for the honeymoon directly after the wedding. She inclined her head in acquiescence but did not speak. The matter appeared one of complete indifference to her.
In spite of his knowledge that this would be her attitude and he need not expect anything different Tristram’s heart began to sink down into his boots, by the time they reached the house, and Francis Markrute whispered to his niece as they came up the steps:
“I beg of you to be a little more gracious—the man has some spirit, you know!”
So when they got into the library, and she began to pour out the tea for them, she made conversation. But Tristram’s teeth were set, and a steely light began to grow in his blue eyes.
She looked so astonishingly alluring there in her well-fitting, blue serge, traveling dress, yet he might not even kiss her white, slender hand! And there was a whole week before the wedding! And after it?—would she keep up this icy barrier between them? If so—but he refused to think of it!
He noticed that she wore his engagement ring only, on her left hand, and that the right one was ringless, nor had she a brooch or any other jewel. He felt glad—he would be able to give her everything. His mother had been so splendid about the family jewels, insisting upon handing them over, and even in the short time one or two pieces had been reset, the better to please the presumably modern taste of the new bride of the Tancreds. These, and the wonderful pearls, her uncle’s gift, were waiting for her, up in her sitting-room.
“I think I will go and rest now until dinner,” she said, and forced a smile as she moved towards the door.
It was the first time Tristram had ever seen her smile, and it thrilled him. He had the most frantic longing to take her in his arms and kiss her, and tell her he was madly in love with her, and wanted her never to be out of his sight.
But he let her pass out, and, turning round, he found Francis Markrute pouring out some liqueur brandy from a wonderful, old, gold-chased bottle, which stood on a side-table with its glasses. He filled two, and handed one to Tristram, while he quoted Doctor Johnson with an understanding smile:
“‘Claret for boys, port for men, but brandy for heroes!’ By Jove! my dear boy,” he said, “you are a hero!”
Lady Tancred unfortunately had one of her very bad headaches, and an hour before dinner, in fact before her son had left the Park Lane house, a telephone message came to say she was dreadfully sorry, it would be impossible for her to come. It was Emily who spoke to Francis Markrute, himself.