Alas for Leon Dexter! He had caged his beautiful bird; but her song had lost, already, its ravishing sweetness.
THE first year of trial passed. If the young wife’s heart-history for that single year could be written, it would make a volume, every pages of which the reader would find (sic) spoted with his tears. No pen but that of the sufferer could write that history; and to her, no second life, even in memory, were endurable. The record is sealed up—and the story will not be told.
It is not within the range of all minds to comprehend what was endured. Wealth, position, beauty, admiration, enlarged intelligence, and highly cultivated tastes, were hers. She was the wife of a man who almost worshipped her, and who ceased not to woo her with all the arts he knew how to practise. Impatient he became, at times, with her impassiveness, and fretted by her coldness. Jealous of her he was always. But he strove to win that love which, ere his half-coercion of her into marriage, he had been warned he did not possess—but his strivings were in vain. He was a meaner bird, and could not mate with the eagle.
To Mrs. Dexter, this life was a breathing death. Yet with a wonderful power of endurance and self-control, she moved along her destined way, and none of the people she met in society—nor even her nearest friends—had any suspicion of her real state of mind. As a wife, her sense of honor was keen. From that virtuous poise, her mind had neither variableness nor shadow of turning. No children came with silken wrappings to hide and make softer the bonds that held her to her husband in a union that only death could dissolve; the hard, icy, galling links of the chain were ever visible, and their trammel ever felt. Cold and desolate the elegant home remained.
In society, Mrs. Dexter continued to hold a brilliant position. She was courted, admired, flattered, envied—the attractive centre to every circle of which she formed a part. Rarely to good advantage did her husband appear, for her mind had so far outrun his in strength and cultivation, that the contrast was seriously against him—and he felt it as another barrier between them.