“We shall be arriving in five minutes, you fellows,” he said.
And soon they drew up at the little Tylling Green station, and the saloon was switched off, while the express flew on to King’s Lynn.
There were motor cars and an omnibus to meet them, and Lady Ethelrida’s own comfortable coupe for the bridal pair. They might just want to say a few words together alone before arriving, she had kindly thought. And so, though neither of the two were very eager for this tete-a-tete, they got in and started off. The little coupe had very powerful engines and flew along, so they were well ahead of the rest of the party and would get to the house first, which was what the hostess had calculated upon. Then Tristram could have the pleasure of presenting his bride to the assembled company at tea, without the interruptions of the greetings of the other folk.
Zara felt excited. She was beginning to realize that these English people were all of her dead father’s class, not creatures whom one must beware of until one knew whether or not they were gamblers or rogues. And it made her breathe more freely, and the black panther’s look died out of her eyes. She did not feel nervous, as she well might have done—only excited and highly worked up. Tristram, for his part, wished to heaven Ethelrida had not arranged to send the coupe for them. It was such a terrible temptation for him to resist for five miles, sitting so near her all alone in the dusk of the afternoon! He clenched his hands under the rug, and drew as far away from her as he could; and she glanced at him and wondered, almost timidly, why he looked so stern.
“I hope you will tell me, if there is anything special you wish me to do, please?” she said. “Because, you see, I have never been in the English country before, and my uncle has given me to understand the customs are different to those abroad.”
He felt he could not look at her; the unusual gentleness in her voice was so alluring, and he had not forgotten the hurt of the chinchilla coat. If he relented in his attitude at all she would certainly snub him again; so he continued staring in front of him, and answered ordinarily,
“I expect you will do everything perfectly right, and every one will only want to be kind to you, and make you have a good time; and my uncle will certainly make love to you but you must not mind that.”
And Zara allowed herself to smile as she answered,
“No, I shall not in the least object to that!”
He knew she was smiling—out of the corner of his eye—and the temptation to clasp her to him was so overpowering that he said rather hoarsely, “Do you mind if I put the window down?”
He must have some air; he was choking. She wondered more and more what was the matter with him, and they both fell into a constrained silence which lasted until they turned into the park gates; and Zara peered out into the ghostly trees, with their autumn leaves nearly off, and tried to guess from the lodge what the house would be like.