Then his tempestuous thoughts went back to Mimo, that foreign man whom he had seen under her window. What if, after all, he was her lover and that accounted for the reason she resented his—Tristram’s—desire to caress?
And all the proud, obstinate fighting blood of the Guiscards got up in him. He would not be made a cat’s-paw. If she exasperated him further he would forget about being a gentleman, and act as a savage man, and seize her in his arms and punish her for her haughtiness!
So it was his blue eyes which were blazing with resentment this time, and not her pools of ink.
Thus they sat down to dinner in silence—much to the waiters’ surprise and disgust.
Zara felt almost glad her husband looked angry. He would then of his own accord leave her in peace.
As the soup and fish came and went they exchanged no word, and then that breeding that they both had made them realize the situation was impossible, and they said some ordinary things while the waiters were in the room.
The table was a small round one with the two places set at right angles, and very close.
It was the first occasion upon which Zara had ever been so near Tristram, and every time she looked up she was obliged to see his face. She could not help owning to herself, that he was extraordinarily distinguished looking, and that there were strong, noble lines in his whole shape.
At the end of their repast, for different reasons, neither of the two felt calm. Tristram’s anger had died down, likewise his suspicions; after a moment’s thought the sane point of view always presented itself to his brain. No, whatever her reasons were for her disdain of him, having another lover was not the cause. And then he grew intoxicated again with her beauty and grace.
She was a terrible temptation to him; she would have been so to any normal man—and they were dining together—and she was his very own!
The waiters, with their cough of warning at the door, brought coffee and liqueurs, and then bodily removed the dinner table, and shut the doors.
And now Zara knew she was practically alone with her lord for the night.
He walked about the room—he did not drink any coffee, nor even a Chartreuse—and she stood perfectly still. Then he came back to her, and suddenly clasped her in his arms, and passionately kissed her mouth.
“Zara!” he murmured hoarsely. “Good God! do you think I am a stone! I tell you I love you—madly. Are you not going to be kind to me and really be my wife?”
Then he saw a look in her eyes that turned him to ice.
“Animal!” she hissed, and hit him across the face.
And as he let her fall from him she drew back panting, and deadly white; while he, mad with rage at the blow, stood with flaming blue eyes, and teeth clenched.