One year of pride was enough for Mr. Dexter. A beautiful, brilliant, fashionable wife was rather a questionable article to place on exhibition; there was danger, he saw, in the experiment. And so he deemed it only the dictate of prudence to guard her from temptation. An incident determined him. They were at Newport, in the mid-season; and their intention was to remain there two weeks. They had been to Saratoga, where the beauty and brilliancy of Mrs. Dexter drew around her some of the most intelligent and attractive men there. All at once her husband suggested Newport.
“I thought we had fixed on next week,” said Mrs. Dexter, in reply.
“I am not well,” was the answer. “The sea air will do me good.”
“We will go to-morrow, then,” was the unhesitating response. Not made with interest or feeling; but promptly, as the dictate of wifely duty.
Just half an hour previous to this brief interview, Mr. Dexter was sitting in one of the parlors, and near him were two men, strangers, in conversation. The utterance by one of them of his wife’s name, caused him to be on the instant all attention.
“She’s charming!” was the response.
“One of the most fascinating women I have ever met! and my observation, as you know, is not limited. She would produce a sensation in Paris.”
“Is she a young widow?”
“Who, or what is her husband?” was asked.
“A rich nobody, I’m told.”
“Ah! He has taste.”
“Taste in beautiful women, at least,” was the rejoinder.
“Is he here?”
“I believe so. He would hardly trust so precious a jewel as that out of his sight. They say he is half-maddened by jealousy.”
“And with reason, probably. Weak men, with brilliant, fashionable wives, have cause for jealousy. He’s a fool to bring her right into the very midst of temptation.”
“Can’t help (sic) simelf, I presume. It might not be prudent to attempt the caging system.”
A low, chuckling laugh followed. How the blood did go rushing and seething through the veins of Leon Dexter!
“I intend to know more of her,” was continued. “Where do they live?”
“Ah! I shall be there during the winter.”
“She sees a great deal of company, I am told. Has weekly or monthly ‘evenings’ at which some of the most intellectual people in the city may be found.”
“Easy of access, I suppose?”
“No doubt of it.”
Dexter heard no more. On the next day he started with his wife for Newport. The journey was a silent one. They had ceased to converse much when alone. And now there were reasons why Mr. Dexter felt little inclination to intrude any common-places upon his wife.