They had a box—and the piece had begun. It was one of those impossibly amusing Paris farces, on the borderland of all convention but so intensely comic that none could help their mirth, and Tristram shook with laughter and forgot for the time that he was a most miserable young man. And even Zara laughed. But it did not melt things between them. Tristram’s feelings had been too wounded for any ordinary circumstances to cause him to relent.
“Do you care for some supper?” he said coldly when they came out. But she answered. “No,” so he took her back, and as far as the lift where he left her, politely saying “Good night,” and she saw him disappear towards the door, and knew he had again gone out.
And going on to the sitting-room alone, she found the English mail had come in, and there were the letters on the table, at least a dozen for Tristram, as she sorted them out—a number in women’s handwriting—and but two for herself. One was from her uncle, full of agreeable congratulations subtly expressed; and the other, forwarded from Park Lane, from Mirko, as yet ignorant of her change of state, a small, funny, pathetic letter that touched her heart. He was better, and again able to go out, and in a fortnight Agatha, the little daughter of the Morleys, would be returning, and he could play with her. That might be a joy—girls were not so tiresome and did not make so much noise as boys.
Zara turned to the piano, which she had not yet opened, and sat down and comforted herself with the airs she loved; and the maid who listened, while she waited for her mistress to be undressed, turned up her eyes in wonder.
"Quel drole de couple!" she said.
And Tristram reencountered his friends and went off with them to sup.
Her ladyship was tired, he told them, and had gone to bed. And two of the Englishwomen who knew him quite well teased him and said how beautiful his bride was and how strange-looking, and what an iceberg he must be to be able to come out to supper and leave her alone! And they wondered why he then smiled cynically.
“For,” said one to the other on their way home, “the new Lady Tancred is perfectly beautiful! Fancy, Gertrude, Tristram leaving her for a minute! And did you ever see such a face? It looks anything but cold.”
Zara was wide-awake when, about two, he came in. She heard him in the sitting-room and suddenly became conscious that her thoughts had been with him ever since she went to bed, and not with Mirko and his letter.
She supposed he was now reading his pile of correspondence—he had such numbers of fond friends! And then she heard him shut the door, and go round into his room; but the carpets were very thick and she heard no more.
If she could have seen what happened beyond that closed door, would it have opened her eyes, or made her happy? Who can tell?
For Higgins, with methodical tidiness, had emptied the pockets of the coat his master had worn in the day, and there on top of a letter or two and a card-case was one tiny pink rose, a wee bud that had become detached from the torn bunch.