The small head of Mrs. Dexter was erect; her nostrils distended; her lips closely laid upon each other; her eyes full fixed and almost fiery in their intense light. Suddenly she was transformed in the eyes of her husband from a yielding, gentle, though cold woman into the very spirit of accusation and defiance. He was silent; for he saw that he had gone too far.
“That must be explained, sir!” She was not to be turned aside. “I have noted your capricious conduct; your singular glances at times; your strange moodiness without apparent cause. A little light has given a faint impression of their meaning. But I must have the full blaze of your thoughts. Nothing else will satisfy me now.”
She paused. Mr. Dexter had indeed gone a step too far, a fact of which he was painfully aware. He had conjured up a spirit that it might not be easy to lay.
“You are too excited. Calm yourself,” he said.
Turning from her husband, Mrs. Dexter crossed the room, and seating herself upon a sofa, said, in a quiet way—
“Sit down beside me, Mr. Dexter. I am calm. Sit down and speak; for your recent language must be explained. Evasion will be fruitless—I will not accept of it.”
“I spoke hastily. Forget my words.”
Mr. Dexter sat down beside his wife, and spoke in a gentle soothing manner.
“It is all in vain, Mr. Dexter! All in vain! Yours were no idle words; and I can never forget them. You have greatly misapprehended your wife, I see; and the quicker you know this the better it will be for both of us. The time has come for explanation—and it shall be made! Why did I wish to come to Newport?”
“You knew that Paul Hendrickson was here,” said Mr. Dexter; “that was the reason!”
“It is false, sir!” was the quick and sharp rejoinder.
“Jessie! beware how you speak!” The angry blood mounted to the very brow of the husband.
“It is false, sir!” she repeated, even more emphatically, if that were possible. “Of his movements I am as ignorant as you are!”
“I cannot tamely bear such words,” said Mr. Dexter, still much excited.
“And I will not bear such imputations,” was firmly rejoined.
Mr. Dexter arose, and commenced the unsatisfactory movement of pacing the floor. Mrs. Dexter remained sitting firmly erect, her eyes following the form of her husband.
“We will drop the subject now and forever,” said the former, stopping, at length, in front of his wife.
Mrs. Dexter did not reply.
“I may have been too hasty.”
“May have been!” There was contempt on the lip, and indignation in the voice of Mrs. Dexter.
“Yes, may. We are certain of nothing in this world,” said her husband, coldly; “and now, as I said, we will drop the subject.”
“It is easier to say than to unsay, Mr. Dexter. The sentiment is very trite, but it involves a world of meaning sometimes, and”—she paused, then added, with marked emphasis—“does now!”