“Certainly snow—but where is the flame?”
Francis Markrute looked at him out of the corners of his clever eyes. She had been icy to him in Paris, then! But his was not the temperament to interfere. It was only a question of time. After all, a week was not long to grow accustomed to a perfect stranger.
Then they went back to the library, and smoked for an hour or so and continued their political chat; and at last Markrute said to his new nephew-in-law blandly,
“In a year or so, when you and Zara have a son, I will give you, my dear boy, some papers to read which will interest you as showing the mother’s side of his lineage. It will be a fit balance, as far as actual blood goes, to your own.”
In a year or so, when Zara should have a son!
Of all the aspects of the case, which her pride and disdain had robbed him of, this, Tristram felt, was perhaps—though it had not before presented itself to him—the most cruel. He would have no son!
He got up suddenly and threw his unfinished cigar into the grate—that old habit of his when he was moved—and he said in a voice that the financier knew was strained,
“That is awfully good of you. I shall have to have it inserted in the family tree—some day. But now I think I shall turn in. I want to have my eye rested, and be as fit as a fiddle for the shoot. I have had a tiring week.”
And Francis Markrute came out with him into the passage and up to the first floor, and when they got so far they heard the notes of the Chanson Triste being played again from Zara’s sitting-room. She had not gone to bed, then, it seemed!
“Good God!” said Tristram. “I don’t know why, but I wish to heaven she would not play that tune.”
And the two men looked at one another with some uneasy wonder in their eyes.
“Go on and take her to bed,” the financier suggested. “Perhaps she does not like being left so long alone.”
Tristram went upstairs with a bitter laugh to himself.
He did not go near the sitting-room; he went straight into the room which had been allotted to himself: and a savage sense of humiliation and impotent rage convulsed him.
The next day, the express which would stop for them at Tylling Green, the little station for Montfitchet, started at two o’clock, and the financier had given orders to have an early lunch at twelve before they left. He, himself, went off to the City for half an hour to read his letters, at ten o’clock, and was surprised when he asked Turner if Lord and Lady Tancred had break-fasted to hear that her ladyship had gone out at half-past nine o’clock and that his lordship had given orders to his valet not to disturb him, in his lordship’s room—and here Turner coughed—until half-past ten.
“See that they have everything they want,” his master said, and then went out. But when he was in his electric brougham, gliding eastwards, he frowned to himself.