“Her life is very placid, I am told by Mrs. De Lisle. Would you throw its elements again into wild disturbance?”
“No; I would only give them their true activity. All is stagnation now. I would make her life one thrill of conscious joy.”
“I have conversed with Mrs. De Lisle on this subject,” said Mrs. Denison.
“You have? And what does she say?”
“She understands the whole case. I concealed nothing—was I right?”
“Yes. But go on.”
“She does not think that Jessie will marry during the lifetime of Mr. Dexter,” said Mrs. Denison.
Hendrickson became pale.
“I fear,” he remarked, “that I did not read her heart aright. I thought that we were conjoined in spirit. Oh, if I have been in error here, the wreck is hopeless!”
He showed a sudden and extreme depression.
“I think you have not erred, Paul. But if Jessie regards the conditions of divorce, given in Matthew, as binding, she is too pure and true a woman ever to violate them. All depends upon that. She could not be happy with you, if her conscience were burdened with the conviction that your marriage was not legal in the Divine sense. Don’t you see how such an act would depress her? Don’t you see that, in gaining her, you would sacrifice the brightest jewel in her crown of womanhood?”
“Does Mrs. De Lisle know her views on this subject?” he asked.
A quick flush mantled Hendrickson’s face.
“Well, what are they?” He questioned eagerly, and in a husky voice.
“She reads the law in Matthew and in Luke, literally.”
“The cup is indeed broken, and the precious wine spilled!” exclaimed the unhappy man, rising in strong agitation.
“Paul,” said Mrs. Denison, after this agitation had in a measure passed away; “all this I can well understand to be very hard for one who has been so patient, so true, so long suffering. But think calmly; and then ask yourself this question: Would you be willing to marry Jessie Loring while she holds her present views?”
Hendrickson bent his head to think.
“She believes,” said Mrs. Denison, “that such a marriage would be adulterous. I put the matter before you in its plainest shape. Now, my friend, are you prepared to take a woman for your wife who is ready to come to you on such terms? I think not. No, not even if her name be Jessie Loring.”
“I thank you, my friend, for setting me completely right,” said Hendrickson. He spoke sadly, yet with the firmness of a true man. “I have now but one favor to ask. Learn from her own lips, if possible, her real sentiments on this subject.”
“I will do so.”
“Yes. To-morrow I will see Mrs. De Lisle, and confer with her on the subject, and then at the earliest practical moment call with her upon Jessie.”
Two days afterwards, Mr. Hendrickson received a note from his friend, asking him to call.