Zara was, if anything, whiter than usual when she came into the library where he was waiting for her alone. The financier had gone to the City. She had heavy, bluish shadows under her eyes, and he saw quite plainly that, the night before, she must have been weeping bitterly.
A great tenderness came over him. What was this sorrow of hers? Why might he not comfort her? He put out both hands and then, as she remained stonily unresponsive, he dropped them, and only said quietly that he hoped she was well, and his motor was waiting outside, and that his mother, Lady Tancred, would be expecting them.
“I am ready,” said Zara. And they went.
He told her as they flew along, that he had been riding in the Park that morning, and had looked up at the house and wondered which was her window; and then he asked her if she liked riding, and she said she had never tried for ten years—the opportunity to ride had not been in her life—but she used to like it when she was a child.
“I must get you a really well-mannered hack,” he said joyously. Here was a subject she had not snubbed him over! “And you will let me teach you again when we go down to Wrayth, won’t you?”
But before she could answer they had arrived at the house in Queen Street.
Michelham, with a subdued beam on his old face, stood inside the door with his footmen, and Tristram said gayly,
“Michelham, this is to be her new ladyship; Countess Shulski”—and he turned to Zara. “Michelham is a very old friend of mine, Zara. We used to do a bit of poaching together, when I was a boy and came home from Eton.”
Michelham was only a servant and could not know of her degradation, so Zara allowed herself to smile and looked wonderfully lovely, as the old man said,
“I am sure I wish your ladyship every happiness, and his lordship, too; and, if I may say so, with such a gentleman your ladyship is sure to have it.”
And Tristram chaffed him, and they went upstairs.
Lady Tancred had rigidly refrained from questioning her daughters, on their return from the dinnerparty; she had not even seen them until the morning, and when they had both burst out with descriptions of their future sister-in-law’s beauty and strangeness their mother had stopped them.
“Do not tell me anything about her, dear children,” she had said. “I wish to judge for myself without prejudice.”
But Lady Coltshurst could not be so easily repressed. She had called early, on purpose to give her views, with the ostensible excuse of an inquiry about her sister-in-law’s health.
“I am afraid you will be rather unfavorably impressed with Tristram’s choice, when you have seen her, Jane,” she announced. “I confess I was. She treated us all as though she were conferring the honor, not receiving it, and she is by no means a type that promises domestic tranquillity for Tristram.”