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The second wedding day of Zara Shulski dawned with a glorious sun. One
of those autumn mornings that seem like a return to the spring--so fresh
and pure the air. She had not seen her bridegroom since she got back
from Bournemouth, nor any of the family; she had said to her uncle that
she could not bear it.
"I am at the end of my forces, Uncle Francis. You are so clever--you can
invent some good excuse. If I must see Lord Tancred I cannot answer for
what I may do."
And the financier had realized that this was the truth. The strings of
her soul were strained to breaking point, and he let her pass the whole
day of Tuesday in peace.
She signed numbers of legal documents concerning her marriage
settlements, without the slightest interest; and then her uncle handed
her one which he said she was to read with care. It set forth in the
wearisome language of the law the provision for Mirko's life, "in
consideration of a certain agreement" come to between her uncle and
herself. But should the boy Mirko return at any time to the man Sykypri,
his father, or should she, Zara, from the moneys settled upon herself
give sums to this man Sykypri the transaction between herself and her
uncle regarding the boy's fortune would be null and void. This was the
Zara read it over but the legal terms were difficult for her. "If it
means exactly what we agreed upon, Uncle Francis, I will sign it," she
said, "that is--that Mirko shall be cared for and have plenty of money
And Francis Markrute replied,
"That is what is meant."
And then she had gone to her room, and spent the night before her
wedding alone. She had steadily read one of her favorite books: she
could not permit herself for a moment to think.
There was a man going to be hanged on the morrow, she had seen in the
papers; and she wondered if, this last night in his cell, the condemned
wretch was numb, or was he feeling at bay, like herself?
Then, at last she opened the window and glanced out on the moon. It was
there above her, over the Park, so she turned out the lights, and,
putting her furs around her, she sat for a while and gazed above the
treetops, while she repeated her prayers.
And Mimo saw her, as he stood in the shadow on the pavement at the other
side of Park Lane. He had come there in his sentimental way, to give her
his blessing, and had been standing looking up for some time. It seemed
to him a good omen for dear Ch�risette's happiness, that she should have
opened the window and looked out on the night.
It was quite early--only about half-past ten--and Tristram, after a
banquet with his bachelor friends on the Monday night, had devoted this,
his last evening, to his mother, and had dined quietly with her alone.
He felt extremely moved, and excited, too, when he left. She had talked
to him so tenderly--the proud mother who so seldom unbent. How marriage
was a beautiful but serious thing, and he must love and try to
understand his wife--and then she spoke of her own great love for him,
and her pride in their noble name and descent.
"And I will pray to God that you have strong, beautiful children,
Tristram, so that there may in years to come be no lack of the Tancreds
When he got outside in the street the moonlight flooded the road, so he
sent his motor away and decided to walk. He wanted breathing space, he
wanted to think, and he turned down into Curzon Street and from, thence
across Great Stanhope Street and into the Park.
And to-morrow night, at this time, the beautiful Zara would be his! and
they would be dining alone together at Dover, and surely she would not
be so icily cold; surely--surely he could get her to melt.
And then further visions came to him, and he walked very fast; and
presently he found himself opposite his lady's house.
An impulse just to see her window overcame him, and he crossed the road
and went out of the gate. And there on the pavement he saw Mimo, also
with face turned, gazing up.
And in a flash he thought he recognized that this was the man he had
seen that day in Whitehall, when he was in his motor car, going very
A mad rage of jealousy and suspicion rushed through him. Every devil
whispered, "Here is a plot. You know nothing of the woman whom to-morrow
you are blindly going to make your wife. Who is this man? What is his
connection with her? A lover's--of course. No one but a lover would gaze
up at a window on a moonlight night."
And it was at this moment that Zara opened the window and, for a second,
both men saw her slender, rounded figure standing out sharply against
the ground of the room. Then she turned, and put out the light.
A murderous passion of rage filled Lord Tancred's heart.
He looked at Mimo and saw that the man's lips were muttering a prayer,
and that he had drawn a little silver crucifix from his coat pocket,
and, also, that he was unconscious of any surroundings, for his face was
rapt; and he stepped close to him and heard him murmur, in his
"Mary, Mother of God, pray for her, and bring her happiness!"
And his common sense reassured him somewhat. If the man were a lover, he
could not pray so, on this, the night before her wedding to another. It
was not in human, male nature, he felt, to do such an unselfish thing as
Then Mimo raised his soft felt hat in his rather dramatic way to the
window, and walked up the street.
And Tristram, a prey to all sorts of conflicting emotions, went back
into the Park.
* * * * *
It seemed to Francis Markrute that more than half the nobility of
England had assembled in St. George's, Hanover Square, next day, as,
with the beautiful bride on his arm, he walked up the church.
She wore a gown of dead white velvet, and her face looked the same
shade, under the shadow of a wonderful picture creation, of black velvet
and feathers, in the way of a hat.
The only jewels she had on were the magnificent pearls which were her
uncle's gift. There was no color about her except in her red burnished
hair and her red, curved mouth.
And the whole company thrilled as she came up the aisle. She looked like
the Princess in a fairy tale--but just come to life.
The organ stopped playing, and now, as in a dream she knew that she was
kneeling beside Tristram and that the Bishop had joined their hands.
She repeated the vows mechanically, in a low, quiet voice. All the sense
of it that came to her brain was Tristram's firm utterance, "I, Tristram
Lorrimer Guiscard, take thee, Zara Elinka, to be my wedded wife."
And so, at last, the ceremony was over, and Lord and Lady Tancred walked
into the vestry to sign their names. And as Zara slipped her hand from
the arm of her newly-made husband he bent down his tall head and kissed
her lips; and, fortunately, the train of coming relations and friends
were behind them, as yet, and the Bishops were looking elsewhere, or
they would have been startled to observe the bride shiver, and to have
seen the expression of passionate resentment which crept into her face.
But the bridegroom saw it, and it stabbed his heart.
Then it seemed that a number of people kissed her: his mother and
sisters, and Lady Ethelrida, and, lastly, the Duke.
"I am claiming my privilege as an old man," this latter said gayly, "and
I welcome you to all our hearts, my beautiful niece."
And Zara had answered, but had hardly been able to give even a
And when they got into the smart, new motor, after passing through the
admiring crowds, she had shrunk into her corner, and half closed her
eyes. And Tristram, intensely moved and strained with the excitement of
it all, had not known what to think.
But pride made his bride play her part when they reached her uncle's
She stood with her bridegroom, and bowed graciously to the countless,
congratulatory friends of his, who passed and shook hands. And, when
soon after they had entered Lady Tancred arrived with Cyril and the
girls, she had even smiled sweetly for one moment, when that gallant
youth had stood on tiptoe and given her a hearty kiss! He was very small
for his age, and full of superb self-possession.
"I think you are a stunner, Zara," he said. "Two of our fellows, cousins
of mine, who were in church with me, congratulated me awfully. And now I
hope you're soon going to cut the cake?"
And Tristram wondered why her mutinous mouth had quivered and her eyes
become full of mist. She was thinking of her own little brother, far
away, who did not even know that there would be any cake.
And so, eventually, they had passed through the shower of rice and
slippers and were at last alone in the motorcar again; and once more
she shrank into her corner and did not speak, and he waited patiently
until they should be in the train.
But once there, in the reserved saloon, when the obsequious guard had
finally shut the door from waving friends and last hand shakes, and they
slowly steamed out of the station, he came over and sat down beside her
and tenderly took her little gray-gloved hand.
But she drew it away from him, and moved further off, before he could
"Zara!" he said pleadingly.
Then she looked intensely fierce.
"Can you not let me be quiet for a moment?" she hissed. "I am tired
And he saw that she was trembling, and, though he was very much in love
and maddeningly exasperated with everything, he let her rest, and even
settled her cushion for her, silently, and took a paper and sat in an
armchair near, and pretended to read.
And Zara stared out of the window, her heart beating in her throat. For
she knew this was only a delay because, as her uncle had once said, the
English nobility as a race were great gentlemen--and this one in
particular--and because of that he would not be likely to make a scene
in the train; but they would arrive at the hotel presently, and there
was dinner to be got through, alone with him, and then--the afterwards.
And as she thought of this her very lips grew white.
The hideous, hideous hatefulness of men! Visions of moments of her first
wedding journey with Ladislaus came back to her. He had not shown her
any consideration for five minutes in his life.
Everything in her nature was up in arms. She could not be just; with her
belief in his baseness it seemed to her that here was this man--her
husband--whom she had seen but four times in her life, and he was not
content with the honest bargain which he perfectly understood; not
content with her fortune and her willingness to adorn his house, but he
must perforce allow his revolting senses to be aroused, he must desire
to caress her, just because she was a woman--and fair--and the law would
give him the right because she was his wife.
But she would not submit to it! She would find some way out.
As yet she had not even noticed Tristram's charm, that something which
drew all other women to him but had not yet appealed to her. She saw on
the rare occasions in which she had looked at him that he was very
handsome--but so had been Ladislaus, and so was Mimo; and all men were
selfish or brutes.
She was half English herself, of course, and that part of her--the calm,
common sense of the nation, would assert itself presently; but for the
time, everything was too strained through her resentment at fate.
And Tristram watched her from behind his _Evening Standard_, and was
unpleasantly thrilled with the passionate hate and resentment and all
the varying; storms of feeling which convulsed her beautiful face.
He was extremely sensitive, in spite of his daring _insouciance_ and his
pride. It would be perfectly impossible to even address her again while
she was in this state.
And so this splendid young bride and bridegroom, not understanding each
other in the least, sat silent and constrained, when they should have
been in each other's arms; and presently, still in the same moods, they
came to Dover, and so to the Lord Warden Hotel.
Here the valet and maid had already arrived, and the sitting-room was
full of flowers, and everything was ready for dinner and the night.
"I suppose we dine at eight?" said Zara haughtily, and, hardly waiting
for an answer, she went into the room beyond and shut the door.
Here she rang for her maid and asked her to remove her hat.
"A hateful, heavy thing," she said, "and there is a whole hour
fortunately, before dinner, Henriette, and I want a lovely bath; and
then you can brush my hair, and it will be a rest."
The French maid, full of sympathy and excitement, wondered, while she
turned on the taps, how _Miladi_ should look so disdainful and calm.
"_Mon Dieu!_ if _Milor_ was my Raoul! I would be far otherwise," she
thought to herself, as she poured in the scent.
At a quarter to the hour of dinner she was still silently brushing her
mistress's long, splendid, red hair, while Zara stared into the glass in
front of her, with sightless eyes and face set. She was back in
Bournemouth, and listening to "_Maman's_ air." It haunted her and rang
in her head; and yet, underneath, a wild excitement coursed in her
A knock then came to the door, and when Henrietta answered it Tristram
passed her by and stepped into his lady's room.
Zara turned round like a startled fawn, and then her expression changed
to one of anger and hauteur.
He was already dressed for dinner, and held a great bunch of gardenias
in his hand. He stopped abruptly when he caught sight of the exquisite
picture she made, and he drew in his breath. He had not known hair could
be so long; he had not realized she was so beautiful. And she was his
"Darling!" he gasped, oblivious of even the maid, who had the discretion
to retire quickly to the bathroom beyond. "Darling, how beautiful you
are! You drive me perfectly mad."
Zara held on to the dressing-table and almost crouched, like a panther
ready to spring.
"How dare you come into my room like this! Go!" she said.
It was as if she had struck him. He drew back, and flung the flowers
down into the grate.
"I only came to tell you dinner was nearly ready," he said haughtily,
"and to bring you those. But I will await you in the sitting-room, when
you are dressed."
And he turned round and left through the door by which he had come.
And Zara called her maid rather sharply, and had her hair plaited and
done, and got quickly into her dress. And when she was ready she went
slowly into the sitting-room.
She found Tristram leaning upon the mantelpiece, glaring moodily into
the flames. He had stood thus for ten minutes, coming to a decision in
He had been very angry just now, and he thought was justified; but he
knew he was passionately in love, as he had never dreamed nor imagined
he could be in the whole of his life.
Should he tell her at once about it? and implore her not to be so cold
and hard? But no, that would be degrading. After all, he had already
shown her a proof of the most reckless devotion, in asking to marry her,
after having seen her only once! And she, what had her reasons been?
They were forcible enough or she would not have consented to her uncle's
wishes before they had even ever met; and he recalled, when he had asked
her only on Thursday last if she would wish to be released, that she had
said firmly that she wished the marriage to take place. Surely she must
know that no man with any spirit would put up with such treatment as
this--to be spoken to as though he had been an impudent stranger
bursting into her room!
Then his tempestuous thoughts went back to Mimo, that foreign man whom
he had seen under her window. What if, after all, he was her lover and
that accounted for the reason she resented his--Tristram's--desire to
And all the proud, obstinate fighting blood of the Guiscards got up in
him. He would not be made a cat's-paw. If she exasperated him further he
would forget about being a gentleman, and act as a savage man, and seize
her in his arms and punish her for her haughtiness!
So it was his blue eyes which were blazing with resentment this time,
and not her pools of ink.
Thus they sat down to dinner in silence--much to the waiters' surprise
Zara felt almost glad her husband looked angry. He would then of his own
accord leave her in peace.
As the soup and fish came and went they exchanged no word, and then that
breeding that they both had made them realize the situation was
impossible, and they said some ordinary things while the waiters were in
The table was a small round one with the two places set at right angles,
and very close.
It was the first occasion upon which Zara had ever been so near
Tristram, and every time she looked up she was obliged to see his face.
She could not help owning to herself, that he was extraordinarily
distinguished looking, and that there were strong, noble lines in his
At the end of their repast, for different reasons, neither of the two
felt calm. Tristram's anger had died down, likewise his suspicions;
after a moment's thought the sane point of view always presented itself
to his brain. No, whatever her reasons were for her disdain of him,
having another lover was not the cause. And then he grew intoxicated
again with her beauty and grace.
She was a terrible temptation to him; she would have been so to any
normal man--and they were dining together--and she was his very own!
The waiters, with their cough of warning at the door, brought coffee and
liqueurs, and then bodily removed the dinner table, and shut the doors.
And now Zara knew she was practically alone with her lord for the night.
He walked about the room--he did not drink any coffee, nor even a
Chartreuse--and she stood perfectly still. Then he came back to her, and
suddenly clasped her in his arms, and passionately kissed her mouth.
"Zara!" he murmured hoarsely. "Good God! do you think I am a stone! I
tell you I love you--madly. Are you not going to be kind to me and
really be my wife?"
Then he saw a look in her eyes that turned him to ice.
"Animal!" she hissed, and hit him across the face.
And as he let her fall from him she drew back panting, and deadly white;
while he, mad with rage at the blow, stood with flaming blue eyes, and
"Animal!" again she hissed, and then her words poured forth in a torrent
of hate. "Is it not enough that you were willing to sell yourself for my
uncle's money--that you were willing to take as a bargain--a woman whom
you had never even seen, without letting your revolting passions exhibit
themselves like this? And you dare to tell me you love me! What do such
as you know of love? Love is a true and a pure and a beautiful thing,
not to be sullied like this. It must come from devotion and knowledge.
What sort of a vile passion is it which makes a man feel as you do for
me? Only that I am a woman. Love! It is no love--it is a question of
sense. Any other would do, provided she were as fair. Remember, my lord!
I am not your mistress, and I will not stand any of this! Leave me. I
hate you, animal that you are!"
He stiffened and grew rigid with every word that she said, and when she
had finished he was as deadly pale as she herself.
"Say not one syllable more to me, Zara!" he commanded. "You will have no
cause to reprove me for loving you again. And remember this: things
shall be as you wish between us. We will each live our lives and play
the game. But before I ask you to be my wife again you can go down upon
your knees. Do you hear me? Good night."
And without a word further he strode from the room.
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