“Then what business have you to allow him to write notes to you?” Tristram demanded, too overcome with jealousy to control the anger in his tone.
She shrank back in her corner. Here it was beginning again! After all, in spite of his apparent agreement to live on the most frigid terms with her he was now acting like Ladislaus: men were all the same!
“I am not aware the creature wrote me any note,” she said. “What do you mean?”
“How can you pretend like this,” Tristram exclaimed furiously, “when it fell out of your sleeve? Here it is.”
“Take me back to the hotel,” she said with a tone of ice. “I refuse to go to the theater to be insulted. How dare you doubt my word? If there is a note you had better read it and see what it says.”
[Illustration: “With his English self-control and horror of a scene, he followed his wife to the door.”]
So Lord Tancred picked up the speaking-tube and told the chauffeur to go back to the Ritz.
They both sat silent, palpitating with rage, and when they got there he followed her into the lift and up to the sitting-room.
He came in and shut the door and strode over beside her, and then he almost hissed,
“You are asking too much of me. I demand an explanation. Tell me yourself about it. Here is your note.”
Zara took it, with infinite disdain, and, touching it as though it were some noisome reptile, she opened it and read aloud,
"Beautiful Comtesse, when can I see you again?"
“The vile wretch!” she said contemptuously. “That is how men insult women!” And she looked up passionately at Tristram. “You are all the same.”
“I have not insulted you,” he flashed. “It is perfectly natural that I should be angry at such a scene, and if this brute is to be found again to-night he shall know that I will not permit him to write insolent notes to my wife.”
She flung the hateful piece of paper into the fire and turned towards her room.
“I beg you to do nothing further about the matter,” she said. “This loathsome man was half drunk. It is quite unnecessary to follow it up; it will only make a scandal, and do no good. But you can understand another thing. I will not have my word doubted, nor be treated as an offending domestic—as you have treated me to-night.” And without further words she went into her room.
Tristram, left alone, paced up and down; he was wild with rage, furious with her, with himself, and with the man. With her because he had told her once, before the wedding, that when they came to cross swords there would be no doubt as to who would be master! and in the three encounters which already their wills had had she had each time come off the conqueror! He was furious with himself, that he had not leaned forward at dinner to see the man hand the note, and he was frenziedly furious with the stranger, that he had dared to turn his insolent eyes upon his wife.