He was leaning towards her, and listening with rapt interest, his countenance and eyes full of admiration, when a quick, impatient ahem caused him to look up. As he did so, he encountered the severe face and piercing eyes of Mr. Dexter. The sudden change in the expression of his countenance warned Mrs. Dexter of the presence of her husband, who had approached quietly, and was standing a pace or two behind his wife. But not the slightest consciousness of this presence did her manner exhibit. She kept on talking as before, and talking to Mr. Hendrickson.
“Will you go with me now, Mrs. Dexter?” said her husband, coming forward, and making a motion as if about to offer his arm.
“Not yet if you please, Mr. Dexter,” was smilingly answered. “I am too much interested in this good company. Come, sit down here,” and she made room for him on the sofa.
But he stood still.
“Then amuse yourself a little longer,” said his wife, in a gay voice. “I will be ready to go with you after a while.”
Mr. Dexter moved away, disappointed, and commenced pacing the floor of the long parlor. At every turn his keen eyes took in the aspect of the little group, and particularly the meaning of his wife’s face, as it turned to Mr. Hendrickson, either in the play of expression or warm with the listener’s interest. The sight half maddened him. Three times, in the next half hour, he said to his wife, as he paused in his restless promenade before her—
But she only threw him a smiling negative, and became still more interesting to her friends. At last, and of her own will, she arose, and bowing, with a face all smiles and eyes dancing in light, to Mr. Hendrickson and Mrs. Florence, she stepped forward, and placing her hand on the arm of her husband, went like a sunbeam from the room.
They had reached their own apartments, and Mrs. Dexter was moving forward past her husband. The stern imperative utterance caused her to pause and turn round.
“We leave for home in the morning!” said Mr. Dexter.
“We?” His wife looked at him fixedly as she made the simple interrogation.
“Yes, we!” was answered, and in the voice of one who had made up his mind, and did not mean to be thwarted in his purpose.
“Mr. Dexter!” his wife stood very erect before him; her eyes did not quail beneath his angry glances; nor was there any sign of weakness in her low, even tones. “Let me warn you now—and regard the warning as for all time—against any attempt to coerce me into obedience to your arbitrary exactions. Your conduct to-night was simply disgraceful—humiliating to yourself, and mortifying and unjust to your wife. Let us have no more of this. There is a high wall between us, Mr. Dexter—high as heaven and deep as—.” Her feelings were getting