He left her, and moved towards the door; yet lingered, for his mind was not wholly at ease in regard to the state of Jessie’s feelings. She had not repelled him in any way—but his ardent words and acts were too passively received. She was standing where he had parted from her, with her eyes upon the floor.
She looked up.
“Good night, dear!”
“Good night, Mr. Dexter.”
“Mr. Dexter!” The young man repeated the words between his teeth, as he passed into the street a moment afterwards. “Mr. Dexter! and in tones that were cold as an icicle!”
He strode away from the house of Mrs. Loring, but little comforted by his interview with Jessie, and with the fiend Jealousy a permanent guest in his heart.
LEON DEXTER was not wrong in his suspicions. It was Hendrickson who visited Miss Loring on the evening of his interview with Mrs. Denison. The young man had striven, with all the power he possessed, to overcome his fruitless passion—but striven in vain.—The image of Miss Loring had burned itself into his heart, and become ineffaceable. The impression she had made upon him was different from that made by any woman he had yet chanced to meet, and he felt that, in some mysterious way, their destinies were bound up together. That, in her heart, she preferred him to the man who was about to sacrifice her at the marriage altar he no longer doubted.
“Is it right to permit this sacrifice?” The question had thrust itself upon him for days and weeks.
“Leon Dexter cannot fill the desire of her heart.” Thus he talked with himself. “She does not love; and to such a woman marriage unblessed by love must be a condition worse than death. No—no! It shall not be! Steadily she is moving on, nerved by a false sense of honor; and unless some one comes to the rescue, the fatal vow will be made that seals the doom of her happiness and mine. It must not—shall not be! Who so fitting as I to be her rescuer? She loves me! Eyes, lips, countenance, tones, gestures, all have been my witnesses. Only an hour too late! Too late? No—no! I will not believe the words! She shall yet be mine!”
It was in this spirit, and under the pressure of such feelings, that Paul Hendrickson visited Jessie Loring on the night Dexter saw him enter the house. The interview was not a very long one, as the reader knows. He sent up his card, and Miss Loring returned for answer, that she would see him in a few moments. Full five minutes elapsed before she left her room. It had taken her nearly all that time to school her agitated feelings; for on seeing his name, her heart had leaped with an irrepressible impulse. She looked down into her heart, and questioned as to the meaning of this disturbance. The response was clear. Paul Hendrickson was more to her than any living man!
“He should have spared me an interview, alone,” she said to herself. “Better for both of us not to meet.”