For a short time after their marriage, John Jr. treated Mabel with at least a show of attention, but he was not one to act long as he did not feel. Had Nellie been, indeed, the wife of another, he might in time have learned to love Mabel as she deserved, but now her presence only served to remind him of what he had lost, and at last he began to shun her society, never seeming willing to be left with her alone, and either repulsing or treating with indifference the many little acts of kindness which her affectionate nature prompted. To all this Mabel was not blind, and when once she began to suspect her true position, it was easy for her to fancy slights where none were intended.
Thus, ere she had been two months a wife, her life was one of constant unhappiness, and, as a matter of course, her health, which had been much improved, began to fail. Her old racking headaches returned with renewed force, confining her for whole days to her room, where she lay listening in vain for the footsteps which never came, and tended only by ’Lena, who in proportion as the others neglected her, clung to her more and more. The trip to Saratoga was given up, John Jr. in the bitterness of his disappointment bitterly refusing to go, and saying there was nothing sillier than for a newly-married couple to go riding around the country, disgusting sensible people with their fooleries. So with a burst of tears Mabel yielded and her bridal tour extended no further than Frankfort, whither her husband did once accompany her, dining out even then with an old schoolmate whom he chanced to meet, and almost forgetting to call at Mr. Douglass’s for Mabel when it was time to return home.
Erelong, too, another source of trouble arose, which shipwrecked entirely the poor bride’s happiness. By some means or other it at last came to Mrs. Livingstone’s knowledge that Mabel’s fortune was not only all gone, but that her son had known it in time to prevent his marrying her. Owing to various losses her own property had for a few years past been gradually diminishing, and when she found that Mabel’s fortune, which she leaned upon as an all-powerful prop, was swept away, it was more than she could bear peaceably; and in a fit of disappointed rage she assailed her son, reproaching him with bringing disgrace upon the family by marrying a poor, homely, sickly girl, who would be forever incurring expense without any means of paying it! For once, however, she found her match, for in good round terms John Jr. bade her “go to thunder,” his favorite point of destination for his particular friends, at the same time saying, “he didn’t care a dime for Mabel’s money. It was you,” said he, “who kept your eye on that, aiding and abetting the match, and now that you are disappointed, I’m heartily glad of it.”
“But who is going to pay for her board,” asked Mrs. Livingstone. “You’ve no means of earning it, and I hope you don’t intend to sponge out of me, for I think I’ve enough paupers on my hands already!”