“Good-bye,” she said coldly. “I am going into the country to-morrow for two or three days. I shall not see you until Monday. Have you anything more it is necessary to say?”
“You are going into the country!” Tristram exclaimed, aghast. “But I will not—” and then he paused, for her eyes had flashed ominously. “I mean,” he went on, “must you go? So soon before our wedding?”
She drew herself up and spoke in a scathing voice.
“Why must I repeat again what I said when you gave me your ring?—I do not wish to see or speak with you. You will have all you bargained for. Can you not leave my company out of the question?”
The Tancred stern, obstinate spirit was thoroughly roused. He walked up and down the room rapidly for a moment, fuming with hurt rage. Then reason told him to wait. He had no intention of breaking off the match now, no matter what she should do; and this was Thursday; there were only five more days to get through, and when once she should be his wife—and then he looked at her, as she stood in her dark, perfect dress, with the great, sable wrap slipping from her shoulders and making a regal background, and her beauty fired his senses and made his eyes swim; and he bent forward and took her hand.
“Very well, you beautiful, unkind thing,” he said. “But if you do not want to marry me you had better say so at once, and I will release you from your promise. Because when the moment comes afterwards for our crossing of swords there will be no question as to who is to be master—I tell you that now.”
And Zara dragged her hand from him, and, with the black panther’s glance in her eyes, she turned to the window and stood looking out.
Then after a second she said in a strangled voice,
“I wish that the marriage shall take place.—And now, please go.”
And without further words he went.
On her way to Bournemouth next day, to see Mirko, Zara met Mimo in the British Museum. They walked along the galleries on the ground floor until they found a bench near the mausoleum of Halicarnassus. To look at it gave them both infinite pleasure; they knew so well the masterpieces of all the old Greeks. Mimo, it seemed, had been down to see his son ten days before. They had met secretly. Mirko had stolen out, and with the cunning of his little brain fully on the alert he had dodged Mrs. Morley in the garden, and had fled to the near pine woods with his violin; and there had met his father and had a blissful time. He was certainly better, Mimo said, a little fatter and with much less cough, and he seemed fairly happy and quite resigned. The Morleys were so kind and good, but, poor souls! it was not their fault if they could not understand! It was not given to every one to have the understanding of his Cherisette and his own papa, Mirko had said, but so soon he would be well; then he would be able to come back to them, and in the meantime he was going to learn lessons, learn the tiresome things that his Cherisette alone knew how to teach him with comprehension. The new tutor who came each day from the town was of a reasonableness, but no wit! “Body of Bacchus!” the father said, “the poor child had not been able to make the tutor laugh once—in a week—when we met.”