She signed numbers of legal documents concerning her marriage settlements, without the slightest interest; and then her uncle handed her one which he said she was to read with care. It set forth in the wearisome language of the law the provision for Mirko’s life, “in consideration of a certain agreement” come to between her uncle and herself. But should the boy Mirko return at any time to the man Sykypri, his father, or should she, Zara, from the moneys settled upon herself give sums to this man Sykypri the transaction between herself and her uncle regarding the boy’s fortune would be null and void. This was the document’s sense.
Zara read it over but the legal terms were difficult for her. “If it means exactly what we agreed upon, Uncle Francis, I will sign it,” she said, “that is—that Mirko shall be cared for and have plenty of money for life.”
And Francis Markrute replied,
“That is what is meant.”
And then she had gone to her room, and spent the night before her wedding alone. She had steadily read one of her favorite books: she could not permit herself for a moment to think.
There was a man going to be hanged on the morrow, she had seen in the papers; and she wondered if, this last night in his cell, the condemned wretch was numb, or was he feeling at bay, like herself?
Then, at last she opened the window and glanced out on the moon. It was there above her, over the Park, so she turned out the lights, and, putting her furs around her, she sat for a while and gazed above the treetops, while she repeated her prayers.
And Mimo saw her, as he stood in the shadow on the pavement at the other side of Park Lane. He had come there in his sentimental way, to give her his blessing, and had been standing looking up for some time. It seemed to him a good omen for dear Cherisette’s happiness, that she should have opened the window and looked out on the night.
It was quite early—only about half-past ten—and Tristram, after a banquet with his bachelor friends on the Monday night, had devoted this, his last evening, to his mother, and had dined quietly with her alone.
He felt extremely moved, and excited, too, when he left. She had talked to him so tenderly—the proud mother who so seldom unbent. How marriage was a beautiful but serious thing, and he must love and try to understand his wife—and then she spoke of her own great love for him, and her pride in their noble name and descent.
“And I will pray to God that you have strong, beautiful children, Tristram, so that there may in years to come be no lack of the Tancreds of Wrayth.”
When he got outside in the street the moonlight flooded the road, so he sent his motor away and decided to walk. He wanted breathing space, he wanted to think, and he turned down into Curzon Street and from, thence across Great Stanhope Street and into the Park.
And to-morrow night, at this time, the beautiful Zara would be his! and they would be dining alone together at Dover, and surely she would not be so icily cold; surely—surely he could get her to melt.