But no; the children were looking and listening, and must not be allowed to suspect any unpleasantness between herself and her husband.
She dropped into his arms, he set her upon her feet, drew her hand within his arm, and walked away with her.
“I do not approve of tree-climbing for a married woman, Zoe,” he said, when they were out of ear-shot of the children; “at least, not for my wife; and I must request you not to try it again.”
“It’s a pity I didn’t know how much my liberty would be curtailed by getting married,” she returned bitterly.
“And I am exceedingly sorry it is out of my power to restore your liberty to you, since it seems that would add to your happiness.”
At that she hastily withdrew her hand from his arm and walked quickly away from him, taking the direction of the house.
Leaning against a tree, his arms folded, his face pale and stern, he looked after her with a heart full of keenest anguish. She had never been dearer to him than at this moment, but alas, she seemed to have lost her love for him, and what a life of miserable dissension they were likely to lead, repenting at leisure their foolishly hasty marriage!
And she was half frantic with pain and passion. He was tired of her already—before they had been married a year—he did not love her any longer and would be glad to be rid of her. Oh, what should she do! would that she could fly to the ends of the earth that he might be relieved of her hated presence.
And yet—oh, how could she ever endure constant absence from him? She loved him so dearly, so dearly!
She hurried on past the house, down the whole length of the avenue and back again, the hot tears all the time streaming over her cheeks. Then she hastily wiped them away, went to her rooms, bathed her eyes, and dressed carefully for tea.
Womanly pride had come to her aid; she must hide her wounds from all, especially from Edward himself and “that detestable Miss Deane.” She would pretend to be happy, very happy, and no one should guess how terribly her heart was aching.
“Where lives the man that has not tried
How mirth can into folly glide,
And folly into sin!”
Ralph Conly was not a favorite with any of his Ion relatives, because they knew his principles were not altogether such as they could approve, nor indeed his practice either; yet they had no idea how bad a youth he was, else intimacy between him and Max would have been forbidden.
All unsuspected by the older people, he was exerting a very demoralizing influence over the younger boy. Every afternoon they sought out some private spot and had a game of cards, and little by little Ralph had introduced gambling into the game, till now the stakes were high in proportion to the means of the players.