“Animal!” again she hissed, and then her words poured forth in a torrent of hate. “Is it not enough that you were willing to sell yourself for my uncle’s money—that you were willing to take as a bargain—a woman whom you had never even seen, without letting your revolting passions exhibit themselves like this? And you dare to tell me you love me! What do such as you know of love? Love is a true and a pure and a beautiful thing, not to be sullied like this. It must come from devotion and knowledge. What sort of a vile passion is it which makes a man feel as you do for me? Only that I am a woman. Love! It is no love—it is a question of sense. Any other would do, provided she were as fair. Remember, my lord! I am not your mistress, and I will not stand any of this! Leave me. I hate you, animal that you are!”
He stiffened and grew rigid with every word that she said, and when she had finished he was as deadly pale as she herself.
“Say not one syllable more to me, Zara!” he commanded. “You will have no cause to reprove me for loving you again. And remember this: things shall be as you wish between us. We will each live our lives and play the game. But before I ask you to be my wife again you can go down upon your knees. Do you hear me? Good night.”
And without a word further he strode from the room.
The moon was shining brightly and a fresh breeze had risen when Tristram left the hotel and walked rapidly towards the pier. He was mad with rage and indignation from his bride’s cruel taunts. The knowledge of their injustice did not comfort him, and, though he knew he was innocent of any desire to have made a bargain, and had taken her simply for her beautiful self, still, the accusation hurt and angered his pride. How dared she! How dared her uncle have allowed her to think such things! A Tancred to stoop so low! He clenched his hands and his whole frame shook.
And then as he gazed down into the moonlit waves her last words came back with a fresh lashing sting. “Leave me, I hate you, animal that you are!” An animal, forsooth! And this is how she had looked at his love!
And then a cold feeling came over him—he was so very just—and he questioned himself. Was it true? Had it, indeed, been only that? Had he, indeed, been unbalanced and intoxicated merely from the desire of her exquisite body? Had there been nothing beyond? Were men really brutes?—And here he walked up and down very fast. What did it all mean? What did life mean? What was the truth of this thing, called love?
And so he strode for hours, reasoning things out. But he knew that for his nature there could be no love without desire—and no desire without love. And then his conversation with Francis Markrute came back to him, the day they had lunched in the city, when the financier had given his views about women.