Such must have been the young Greeks who ran in the Gymnasium at Athens, she thought.
And then, suddenly, an intense quiver of unknown emotion rushed over her. And if at that moment he had clasped her and kissed her, instead of sitting there glaring into space, the rest of this story need never have been written!
But the moment passed, and she crushed whatever it was she felt of the dawning of love, and he dominated the uneasy suspicions of her fidelity; and they got out of the train at Charing Cross—after their remarkable wedding journey.
Francis Markrute’s moral antennae upon which he prided himself informed him that all was not as it should be between this young bride and bridegroom. Zara seemed to have acquired in this short week even an extra air of regal dignity, aided by her perfect clothes; and Tristram looked stern, and less joyous and more haughty than he had done. And they were both so deadly cold, and certainly constrained! It was not one of the financier’s habits ever to doubt himself or his deductions. They were based upon far too sound reasoning. No, if something had gone wrong or had not yet evolutionized it was only for the moment and need cause no philosophical deus ex machina any uneasiness.
For it was morally and physically impossible that such a perfectly developed pair of the genus human being could live together in the bonds of marriage, and not learn to love.
Meanwhile, it was his business as the friend and uncle of the two to be genial and make things go on greased wheels.
So he exerted himself to talk at dinner—their dinner a trois—. He told them all the news that had happened during the week—Was it only a week—Zara and Tristram both thought!
How there were rumors that in the coming spring there might be a general election, and that the Radicals were making fresh plots to ruin the country; but there was to be no autumn session, and, as usual, the party to which they all had the honor to belong was half asleep.
And then the two men grew deep in a political discussion, so as soon as Zara had eaten her peach she said she would leave them to their talk, and say “Good night,” as she was tired out.
“Yes, my niece,” said her uncle who had risen. And he did what he had not done since she was a child, he stooped and kissed her white forehead. “Yes, indeed, you must go and rest. We both want you to do us justice to-morrow, don’t we, Tristram? We must have our special lady looking her best.”
And she smiled a faint smile as she passed from the room.
“By George! my dear boy,” the financier went on, “I don’t believe I ever realized what a gorgeously beautiful creature my niece is. She is like some wonderful exotic blossom—a mass of snow and flame!”
And Tristram said with unconscious cynicism,