“Nearly all of which, touching the pleasant people we meet at Mrs. Talbot’s, is assumed,” replied Irene, not at all moved by her husband’s earnestness.
“You may learn to your sorrow, when the knowledge comes too late,” he responded, “that even more than I have assumed is true.”
“I am not in fear of the sorrow,” was answered lightly.
As Irene, against all argument, persuasion and remonstrance on the part of her husband, persisted in her determination to go to Mrs. Talbot’s, he engaged a carriage to take her there and to call for her at eleven o’clock.
“Come away alone,” he said, with impressive earnestness, as he parted from her. “Don’t let any courteous offer induce you to accept an attendant when you return home.”
A STARTLING EXPERIENCE.
MRS. EMERSON did not feel altogether comfortable in mind as she rode away from her door alone. She was going unattended by her husband, and against his warmly-spoken remonstrance, to pass an evening with people of whom she knew but little, and against whom he had strong prejudices.
“It were better to have remained at home,” she said to herself more than once before her arrival at Mrs. Talbot’s. The marked attentions she received, as well from Mrs. Talbot as from several of her guests, soon brought her spirits up to the old elevation. Among those who seemed most attracted by her was Major Willard, to whom reference has already been made.
“Where is your husband?” was almost his first inquiry on meeting her. “I do not see him in the room.”
“He had to meet a gentleman on business over in Brooklyn this evening,” replied Irene.
“Ah, business!” said the major, with a shrug, a movement of the eyebrows and a motion in the corners of his mouth which were not intelligible signs to Mrs. Emerson. That they meant something more than he was prepared to utter in words, she was satisfied, but whether of favorable or unfavorable import touching her absent husband, she could not tell. The impression on her mind was not agreeable, and she could not help remembering what Hartley had said about the major.
“I notice,” remarked the latter, “that we have several ladies here who come usually without their husbands. Gentlemen are not always attracted by the feast of reason and the flow of soul. They require something more substantial. Oysters and terrapin are nearer to their fancy.”
“Not more to my husband’s fancy,” replied Mrs. Emerson, in a tone of vindication, as well as rebuke at such freedom of speech.
“Beg your pardon a thousand times, madam!” returned Major Willard, “if I have even seemed to speak lightly of one who holds the honored position of your husband. Nothing could have been farther from my thought. I was only trifling.”