“Better than ever, love,” he whispered, holding her closer to his heart; “for how long we shall have lived and loved together! We shall have come to be as one indeed, each with hardly a thought or feeling unshared by the other.”
“One woman reads another’s character, without the tedious trouble of deciphering.”—Jonson.
Zoe’s sleep that night was profound and refreshing, and she woke in perfect health and vigor of body and mind; but the first sound that smote upon her ear—the dashing of sleet against the window-pane—sent a pang of disappointment and dismay to her heart.
She sprang from her bed, and, running to the window, drew aside the curtain, and looked out.
“O Ned!” she groaned, “the ground is covered with sleet and snow,—about a foot deep, I should think,—and just hear how the wind shrieks and howls round the house!”
“Well, love,” he answered in a cheery tone, “we are well sheltered, and supplied with all needful things for comfort and enjoyment.”
“And one that will destroy every bit of my enjoyment in any or all the others,” she sighed; “but,” eagerly and half hopefully, “do you think it is quite certain to be too bad for her to go?”
“Quite, I am afraid. If she should offer to go,” he added mischievously, “we will not be more urgent against it than politeness demands, and, if she persists, will not refuse the use of the close carriage as far as the depot.”
“She offer to go!” exclaimed Zoe scornfully: “you may depend, she’ll stay as long as she has the least vestige of an excuse for doing so.”
“Oh, now, little woman! don’t begin the day with being quite so hard and uncharitable,” Edward said, half seriously, half laughingly.
Zoe was not far wrong in her estimate of her guest. Miss Deane was both insincere and a thoroughly selfish person, caring nothing for the comfort or happiness of others. She had perceived Zoe’s antipathy from the first day of their acquaintance, and took a revengeful, malicious delight in tormenting her; and she had sufficient penetration to see that the most effectual way to accomplish her end was through Edward. The young wife’s ardent and jealous affection for her husband was very evident; plainly, it was pain to her to see him show Miss Deane the slightest attention, or seem interested in any thing she did or said; therefore the intruder put forth every effort to interest him, and monopolize his attention, and at the same time contrived to draw out into exhibition the most unamiable traits in Zoe’s character, doing it so adroitly that Edward did not perceive her agency in the matter, and thought Zoe alone to blame. To him Miss Deane’s behavior appeared unexceptionable, her manner most polite and courteous, Zoe’s just the reverse.
It was so through all that day and week; for the storm continued, and the uninvited guest never so much as hinted at a wish to leave the shelter of their hospitable roof.