Hendrickson promised to call in a day or two. As he turned from Mrs. Denison, his eyes encountered those of the young lady whose name had just been uttered. She was standing beside Mr. Dexter, who was officiously attentive to her up to the last moment. He was holding her shawl ready to throw it over her shoulders as she stepped from the door to the carriage that awaited her. For a moment or two the eyes of both were fixed, and neither had the power to move them. Then, each with a slight confusion of manner, turned from the other. Hendrickson retired into the nearly deserted parlors, while Miss Loring, attended by Dexter, entered the carriage, and was driven away.
It was past the hour of two, when Jessie Loring stepped from the carriage and entered her home. A domestic admitted her.
“Aunt is not waiting for me?” she said in a tone of inquiry.
“No; she has been in bed some hours.”
“It is late for you to be sitting up, Mary, and I am sorry to have been the cause of it. But, you know, I couldn’t leave earlier.”
She spoke kindly, and the servant answered in a cheerful voice.
“I’ll sit up for you, Miss Jessie, at any time. And why shouldn’t I? Sure, no one in the house is kinder or more considerate of us than you; and it’s quite as little as a body can do to wait up for you once in a while, and you enjoying yourself.”
“Thank you, Mary. And now get to bed as quickly as possible, for you must be tired and very sleepy. Good-night.”
“Good night, and God bless you!” responded the servant, warmly. “She was the queen there, I know?” she added, proudly, speaking to herself as she moved away.
It was a night in mid-October. A clear, cool, moon-lit radiant night. From her window, Jessie could look far away over the housetops to a dark mass of forest trees, just beyond the city, and to the gleaming river that lay sleeping at their feet. The sky was cloudless, save at the west, where a tall, craggy mountain of vapor towered up to the very zenith. After loosening and laying off some of her garments, Miss Loring, instead (sic) off retiring, sat down by the window, and leaning her head upon her hand looked out upon the entrancing scene. She did not remark upon its beauty, nor think of its weird attractions; nor did her eyes, after the first glance, convey any distinct image of external objects to her mind. Yet was she affected by them. The hour, and the aspect of nature wrought their own work upon her feelings.
She sat down and leaned her head upon her hand, while the scenes in which she had been for the past few hours an actor, passed before her in review with almost the vividness of reality. Were her thoughts pleasant ones? We fear not; for every now and then a faint sigh troubled her breast, and parted her too firmly closed lips. The evening’s entertainment had not satisfied her in something. There was a pressure on her feelings that weighed them down heavily.