And then after a while it seemed that there was some slight care upon Mimo’s mind. It had rained, it appeared, before the end of their stolen meeting. It had rained all the morning and then had cleared up gloriously fine, and they had sat down on a bank under the trees, and Mirko had played divinely all sorts of gay airs. But when he got up he had shivered a little, and Mimo could see that his clothes were wet, and then the rain had come on immediately again, and he had made him run back. He feared he must have got thoroughly soaked, and he had had nothing since but one postcard, which said that Mirko had been in bed, though he was now much better and longing—longing to see his Cherisette!
“Oh, Mimo! how could you let him sit on the grass!” Zara exclaimed reproachfully, when he got thus far. “And why was I not told? It may have made him seriously ill. Oh, the poor angel! And I must stay so short a while—and then this wedding—” She stopped abruptly and her eyes became black. For she knew there was no asking for respite. To obtain her brother’s possible life she must be ready and resigned, at the altar at St. George’s, Hanover Square, on Wednesday the 25th of October, at 2 o’clock, and, once made a wife, she must go with Lord Tancred to the Lord Warren Hotel at Dover, to spend the night.
She rose with a convulsive quiver, and looked with blank, sightless eyes at an Amazon in the frieze hard by. The Amazon—she saw, when vision came back to her—was hurling a spear at a splendid young Greek. That is how she felt she would like to behave to her future husband. Men and their greed of money, and their revolting passions!—and her poor little Mirko ill, perhaps, from his father’s carelessness—How could she leave him? And if she did not his welfare would be at an end and life an abyss.
There was no use scolding Mimo; she knew of old no one was sorrier than he for his mistakes, for which those he loved best always had to suffer. It had taken the heart out of him, the anxious thought, he said, but, knowing that Cherisette must be so busy arranging to get married, he had not troubled her, since she could do nothing until her return to England, and then he knew she would arrange to go to Mirko at once, in any case.
He, Mimo, had been too depressed to work, and the picture of the London fog was not much further advanced, and he feared it would not be ready for her wedding gift.
“Oh, never mind!” said Zara. “I know you will think of me kindly, and I shall like that as well as any present.”
And then she drove to the Waterloo station alone, a gnawing anxiety in her heart. And all the journey to Bournemouth her spirits sank lower and lower until, when she got there, it seemed as if the old cab-horse were a cow in its slowness, to get to the doctor’s trim house.
“Yes,” Mrs. Morley said as soon as she arrived, “your little brother has had a very sharp attack.”