Tristram did not even attempt to play the part of the returning bridegroom beyond the ordinary seeing to her comfort about which he had never failed; he left her immediately and remained for all the voyage on deck.
And when they reached Dover Zara’s expectancy showed again, but it was not until they were just leaving the station that a telegram was thrust through the window and he took it from the boy, while he could not help noticing the foreign form of address. And a certainty grew in his brain that it was “that same cursed man!”
He watched her face as she read it, and noticed the look of relief as, quite unconscious of his presence, his bride absently spread the paper out. And although deliberately to try and see what was written was not what he would ever have done, his eyes caught the signature, “Mimo,” before he was aware of it.
Mimo—that was the brute’s name!
And what could he say or do? They were not really husband and wife, and as long as she did nothing to disgrace the Tancred honor he had no valid reason for questions or complaints.
But he burnt with suspicion, and jealousy, and pain.
Then he thought over what Francis Markrute had said the first evening, when he had agreed to the marriage. He remembered how he had not felt it would be chivalrous or honorable to ask any questions, once he had blindly gone the whole length and settled she should be his; but how Francis had gratuitously informed him that she had been an immaculate wife until a year ago, and married to an unspeakable brute.
He knew the financier very well, and knew that he was, with all his subtle cleverness, a man of spotless honor. Evidently, then, if there was anything underneath he was unaware of it. But was there anything? Even though he was angry and suspicious he realized that the bearing of his wife was not guilty or degraded. She was a magnificently proud and noble-looking creature, but perhaps even the noblest women could stoop to trick from—love! And this thought caused him to jump up suddenly—much to Zara’s astonishment. And she saw the veins show on the left side of his temple as in a knot, a peculiarity, like the horseshoe of the Redgauntlets, which ran in the Tancred race.
Then he felt how foolish he was, causing himself suffering over an imaginary thing; and here this piece of white marble sat opposite him in cold silence, while his being was wrung! He suddenly understood something which he had never done before, when he read of such things in the papers—how, passionately loving, a man could yet kill the thing he loved.
And Zara, comforted by the telegram, “Much better again to-day,” had leisure to return to the subject which had lately begun unconsciously to absorb her—the subject of her lord!
She wondered what made him look so stern. His nobly-cut face was as though it were carved in stone. Just from an abstract, artistic point of view, she told herself, she honestly admired him and his type. It was finer than any other race could produce and she was glad she was half English, too. The lines were so slender and yet so strong; and every bone balanced—and the look of superb health and athletic strength.