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On her way to Bournemouth next day, to see Mirko, Zara met Mimo in the
British Museum. They walked along the galleries on the ground floor
until they found a bench near the mausoleum of Halicarnassus. To look at
it gave them both infinite pleasure; they knew so well the masterpieces
of all the old Greeks. Mimo, it seemed, had been down to see his son ten
days before. They had met secretly. Mirko had stolen out, and with the
cunning of his little brain fully on the alert he had dodged Mrs. Morley
in the garden, and had fled to the near pine woods with his violin; and
there had met his father and had a blissful time. He was certainly
better, Mimo said, a little fatter and with much less cough, and he
seemed fairly happy and quite resigned. The Morleys were so kind and
good, but, poor souls! it was not their fault if they could not
understand! It was not given to every one to have the understanding of
his Ch�risette and his own papa, Mirko had said, but so soon he would be
well; then he would be able to come back to them, and in the meantime he
was going to learn lessons, learn the tiresome things that his
Ch�risette alone knew how to teach him with comprehension. The new tutor
who came each day from the town was of a reasonableness, but no wit!
"Body of Bacchus!" the father said, "the poor child had not been able to
make the tutor laugh once--in a week--when we met."
And then after a while it seemed that there was some slight care upon
Mimo's mind. It had rained, it appeared, before the end of their stolen
meeting. It had rained all the morning and then had cleared up
gloriously fine, and they had sat down on a bank under the trees, and
Mirko had played divinely all sorts of gay airs. But when he got up he
had shivered a little, and Mimo could see that his clothes were wet, and
then the rain had come on immediately again, and he had made him run
back. He feared he must have got thoroughly soaked, and he had had
nothing since but one postcard, which said that Mirko had been in bed,
though he was now much better and longing--longing to see his
"Oh, Mimo! how could you let him sit on the grass!" Zara exclaimed
reproachfully, when he got thus far. "And why was I not told? It may
have made him seriously ill. Oh, the poor angel! And I must stay so
short a while--and then this wedding--" She stopped abruptly and her
eyes became black. For she knew there was no asking for respite. To
obtain her brother's possible life she must be ready and resigned, at
the altar at St. George's, Hanover Square, on Wednesday the 25th of
October, at 2 o'clock, and, once made a wife, she must go with Lord
Tancred to the Lord Warren Hotel at Dover, to spend the night.
She rose with a convulsive quiver, and looked with blank, sightless eyes
at an Amazon in the frieze hard by. The Amazon--she saw, when vision
came back to her--was hurling a spear at a splendid young Greek. That is
how she felt she would like to behave to her future husband. Men and
their greed of money, and their revolting passions!--and her poor little
Mirko ill, perhaps, from his father's carelessness--How could she leave
him? And if she did not his welfare would be at an end and life an
There was no use scolding Mimo; she knew of old no one was sorrier than
he for his mistakes, for which those he loved best always had to suffer.
It had taken the heart out of him, the anxious thought, he said, but,
knowing that Ch�risette must be so busy arranging to get married, he had
not troubled her, since she could do nothing until her return to
England, and then he knew she would arrange to go to Mirko at once, in
He, Mimo, had been too depressed to work, and the picture of the London
fog was not much further advanced, and he feared it would not be ready
for her wedding gift.
"Oh, never mind!" said Zara. "I know you will think of me kindly, and I
shall like that as well as any present."
And then she drove to the Waterloo station alone, a gnawing anxiety in
her heart. And all the journey to Bournemouth her spirits sank lower and
lower until, when she got there, it seemed as if the old cab-horse were
a cow in its slowness, to get to the doctor's trim house.
"Yes," Mrs. Morley said as soon as she arrived, "your little brother has
had a very sharp attack."
He escaped from the garden about ten days before, she explained, and was
gone at least two hours, and then returned wet through, and was a little
light-headed that night, and had talked of "Maman and the angels," and
"Papa and Ch�risette," but they could obtain no information from him as
to why he went, nor whom he had seen. He had so rapidly recovered that
the doctor had not thought it necessary to let any one know, and she,
Mrs. Morley--guessing how busy one must be ordering a trousseau--when
there was no danger had refrained from sending a letter, to be forwarded
from the given address.
Here Zara's eyes had flashed, and she had said sternly,
"The trousseau was not of the slightest consequence in comparison to my
Mirko was upstairs in his pretty bedroom, playing with a puzzle and the
nurse; he had not been told of his sister's proposed coming, but some
sixth sense seemed to inform him it was she, when her footfall sounded
on the lower stairs, for they heard an excited voice shouting:
"I tell you I will go--I will go to her, my Ch�risette!" And Zara
hastened the last part, to avoid his rushing, as she feared he would do,
out of his warm room into the cold passage.
The passionate joy he showed at the sight of her made a tightness round
her heart. He did not look ill, only, in some unaccountable way, he
seemed to have grown smaller. There was, too, even an extra pink flush
in his cheeks.
He must sit on her lap and touch all her pretty things. She had put on
her uncle's big pearl earrings and one string of big pearls, on purpose
to show him; he so loved what was beautiful and refined.
"Thou art like a queen, Ch�risette," he told her. "Much more beautiful
than when we had our tea party, and I wore Papa's paper cap. And
everything new! The uncle, then, is very rich," he went on, while he
stroked the velvet on her dress.
And she kissed and soothed him to sleep in her arms, when he was ready
for his bed. It was getting quite late, and she sang a soft, Slavonic
cradle song, in a low cooing voice, and, every now and then, before the
poor little fellow sank entirely to rest, he would open his beautiful,
pathetic eyes, and they would swim with love and happiness, while he
murmured, "Adored Ch�risette!"
The next day--Saturday--she never left him. They played games together,
and puzzles. The nurse was kind, but of a thickness of understanding,
like all the rest, he said, and, with his sister there, he could
dispense with her services for the moment. He wished, when it grew dusk
and they were to have their tea, to play his violin to only her, in the
firelight; and there he drew forth divine sounds for more than an hour,
tearing at Zara's heart-strings with the exquisite notes until her eyes
grew wet. And at last he began something that she did not know, and the
weird, little figure moved as in a dance in the firelight, while he
played this new air as one inspired, and then stopped suddenly with a
crash of joyous chords.
"It is _Maman_ who has taught me that!" he whispered. "When I was ill
she came often and sang it to me, and when they would give me back my
violin I found it at once, and now I am so happy. It talks of the
butterflies in the woods, which are where she lives, and there is a
little white one which flies up beside her with her radiant blue wings.
And she has promised me that the music will take me to her, quite soon.
"No, no," said Zara faintly. "I cannot spare you, darling. I shall have
a beautiful garden of my own next summer, and you must come and stay
with me, Mirko mio, and chase real butterflies with a golden net."
And this thought enchanted the child. He must hear all about his
sister's garden. By chance there was an old number of _Country Life_
lying on the table, and, the nurse bringing in the tea at the moment,
they turned on the electric light and looked at the pictures; and by the
strangest coincidence, when they came to the weekly series of those
beautiful houses she read at the beginning of the article, "Wrayth--the
property of Lord Tancred of Wrayth."
"See, Mirko," she said in a half voice; "our garden will look exactly
And the child examined every picture with intense interest. One of a
statue of Pan and his pipe, making the center of a star in the Italian
parterre, pleased him most.
"For see, Ch�risette, he, too, is not shaped as other people are," he
whispered with delight. "Look! And he plays music, also! When you walk
there, and I am with _Maman_, you must remember that this is me!"
It was with deep grief and foreboding that Zara left him, on Monday
morning, in spite of the doctor's assurance that he was indeed on the
turn to get quite well--well of this sharp attack--whether he would ever
grow to be a man was always a doubt but there was no present
anxiety--she could be happy on that score. And with this she was obliged
to rest content.
But all the way back in the train she saw the picture of the Italian
parterre at Wrayth with the statue of Pan, in the center of the star,
playing his pipes.
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