He waited and fumed. It was evidently something about which she wished no one to see what she wrote, for she could perfectly well have given the telegram to Higgins to take, who would be waiting by the saloon door.
She returned in a few moments, and she saw that Tristram’s face was very stern. It did not strike her that he was jealous about the mystery of the telegram; she thought he was annoyed at her for not coming on in case they should be late, so she said hurriedly, “There is plenty of time.”
“Naturally,” he answered stiffly as they walked along, “but it is quite unnecessary for Lady Tancred to struggle through this rabble and take telegrams herself. Higgins could have done it when we were settled in the train.”
And with unexpected meekness all she said was, “I am very sorry.”
So the incident ended there—but not the uneasy impression it left.
Tristram did not even make a pretense of reading the papers when the train moved on; he sat there staring in front of him, with his handsome face shadowed by a moody frown. And any close observer who knew him would have seen that there was a change in his whole expression, since the same time the last week.
The impossible disappointment of everything! What kind of a nature could his wife have, to be so absolutely mute and unresponsive as she had been? He felt glad he had not given her the chance to snub him again. These last days he had been able to keep to his determination, and at all events did not feel himself humiliated. How long would it be before he should cease to care for her? He hoped to God—soon, because the strain of crushing his passionate desires was one which no man could stand long.
The little, mutinous face, with its alluring, velvet, white skin, her slightly full lips, all curved and red, and tempting, and anything but cold in shape, and the extraordinary magnetic attraction of her whole personality, made her a most dangerous thing; and then his thoughts turned to the vision of her hair undone that he had had on that first evening at Dover. He had said once to Francis Markrute, he remembered, that these great passions were “storybook stuff.” Good God! Well, in those days he had not known.
He thought, as he returned from his honeymoon this day, that he could not be more frightfully unhappy, but he was really only beginning the anguish of the churning of his soul—if he had known.
And Zara sat in her armchair, and pretended to read; but when he glanced at her he saw that it was a farce and that her expressive eyes were again quite blank.
And finally, after the uncomfortable hours, they arrived at Calais and went to the boat.
Here Zara seemed to grow anxious again and on the alert, and, stepping forward, asked Higgins to inquire if there was a telegram for her, addressed to the ship. But there was not, and she subsided once more quietly and sat in their cabin.