“That you were—but I will not pain your ears, darling! Forgive my foolish indignation. Love with me is so vital a thing, that the remotest suspicion of losing its object, brings smarting pain. You are all the world to me, Jessie, and the intimation”—
“Of what, Leon?”
He had left the sentence unfinished. Dexter was holding one of her hands. She did not attempt to withdraw it.
“That you were false to me!”
The words caused Miss Loring to spring to her feet. Bright spots burned on her cheeks, and her eyes flashed.
“False to you! What did she mean by such words?” was demanded.
“It was the entering wedge of suspicion,” said Dexter. “But the trick has failed. My heart tells me that you are the soul of honor. If I was disturbed, is that a cause of wonder? Would not such an allegation against me have disturbed you? It would! But that your heart is pure and true as an angel’s, I best know of all the living. Dear Jessie!” and he laid a kiss upon her burning cheek,
“I shall never cease to blame myself for the part I have played this evening. Had I loved you less I had been calmer.”
“False in what way?” asked Miss Loring, unsatisfied with so vague an answer.
“False to your vows, of course. What else could she mean?”
“Did she say that?”
“No—of course not. But she conveyed the meaning as clearly as if she had uttered the plainest language.”
“What were her words?” asked Miss Loring.
“I cannot repeat them. She spoke with great caution, keeping remote, as to words, from the matter first in her thought, yet filling my mind with vague distrust, or firing it with jealousy at every sentence.”
“Can you fix a single clear remark—something that I can repeat?”
“Not one. The whole interview impresses me like a dream. Only the disturbance remains. But let it pass as a dream, darling—a nightmare created by some spirit of evil. A single glance into your dear face and loving eyes rebukes my folly and accuses me of wrong. We are all the world to each other, and no shadow even shall come again between our souls and happiness.”
Jessie resumed her seat and questioned no farther. Was she satisfied with the explanation? Of course not. But her lover was adroit, and she became passive.
“You cannot wonder now,” he said, “that I was so anxious to see you this evening. I might have spared you this interview, and it would have been better, perhaps, if I had done so. But excited lovers are not always the most reasonable beings in the world. I could not have slept to-night. Now I shall find the sweetest slumber that has yet refreshed my spirit—and may your sleep, dearest, be gentle as the sleep of flowers! I will leave you now, for I remember that you are far from being well this evening. It will grieve me to think that my untimely intrusion, and this disturbing hour, may increase the pain you suffer or rob you of a moment’s repose.—Good night, love!” and he kissed her tenderly. “Good night, precious one!” he added. “May angels be your companions through the dark watches, and bring you to a glorious morning!”