Perhaps he was not on the alert, because he had never before been there with a woman he loved.
Zara’s neighbor was a great, big, fierce-looking creature from some wild quarter of the South, and was perhaps also just a little drunk. She knew a good deal of their language, but, taking for granted that this Englishman and his lovely lady would be quite ignorant of what they said, the party of men were most unreserved in their remarks.
Her neighbor looked at her devouringly, once or twice, when he saw Tristram could not observe him, and then began to murmur immensely entreprenant love sentences in his own tongue, as he played with his bread. She knew he had recognized her. And Tristram wondered why his lady’s little nostrils should begin to quiver and her eyes to flash.
She was remembering like scenes in the days of Ladislaus, and how he used to grow wild with jealousy, in the beginning when he took her out, and once had dragged her back upstairs by her hair, and flung her into bed. It was always her fault when men looked at her, he assured her. And the horror of the recollection of it all was still vivid enough.
Then Tristram gradually became greatly worried; without being aware that the man was the cause, he yet felt something was going on. He grew jealous and uneasy, and would have liked to have taken her home.
And because of the things she was angrily listening to, and because of her fear of a row, she sat there looking defiant and resentful, and spoke never a word.
And Tristram could not understand it, and he eventually became annoyed. What had he said or done to her again? It was more than he meant to stand, for no reason—to put up with such airs!
For Zara sat frowning, her mouth mutinous and her eyes black as night.
If she had told Tristram what her neighbor was saying there would at once have been a row. She knew this, and so remained in constrained silence, unconscious that her husband was thinking her rude to him, and that he was angry with her. She was so strung up with fury at the foreigner, that she answered Tristram’s few remarks at random, and then abruptly rose while he was paying the bill, as if to go out. And as she did so the Count slipped a folded paper into the sleeve of her coat.
Tristram thought he saw something peculiar but was still in doubt, and, with his English self-control and horror of a scene, he followed his wife to the door, as she was walking rapidly ahead, and there helped her into the waiting automobile.
But as she put up her arm, in stepping in, the folded paper fell to the brightly lighted pavement and he picked it up.
He must have some explanation. He was choking with rage. There was some mystery, he was being tricked.
“Why did you not tell me you knew that fellow who sat next to you?” he said in a low, constrained voice.
“Because it would have been a lie,” she said haughtily. “I have never seen him but once before in my life.”