“Do you remain here any time?”
“I shall not leave until I see Mrs. Dexter on the safe side and in good hands,” was replied.
“Have you heard any reason assigned for this fearful attack?” inquired Hendrickson.
Mrs. Florence shook her head.
Not caring to manifest an interest in Mrs. Dexter that might attract attention, or occasion comment, Hendrickson dropped the subject. During the evening he threw himself in the way of the physician, and gathered all he desired to know from him. The report was so favorable that he determined to leave Newport by the midnight boat for New York and return home, which he accordingly did.
THE season at Newport closed, and the summer birds of fashion flitted away. But Mrs. Dexter still remained, and in a feeble condition. It was as late as November before the physician in attendance would consent to her removal. She was then taken home, but so changed that even her nearest friends failed to recognize in her wan, sad, dreary face, anything of its old expression.
No man could have been kinder—no man could have lavished warmer attentions on another than were lavished on his wife by Mr. Dexter. With love-like assiduity, he sought to awaken her feelings to some interest in life; not tiring, though she remained as coldly passive as marble. But she gave him back no sign. There was neither self-will, perverseness, nor antagonism, in this; but paralysis instead. Emotion had died.
It was Christmas before Mrs. Dexter left her room—and then she was so weak as to need a supporting arm. Tonics only were administered by her physician; but if they acted at all, it was so feebly that scarcely any good result appeared. The cause of weakness lay far beyond the reach of his medicines.
With the slow return of bodily strength and mental activity, was developed in the mind of Mrs. Dexter a feeling of repugnance to her husband that went on increasing. She did not struggle against this feeling, because she knew, by instinct, that all resistance would be vain. It was something over which she could not possibly have control; the stern protest of nature against an alliance unblessed by love.
One day, during mid-winter, her best friend, Mrs. De Lisle, in making one of her usual visits, found her sitting alone, and in tears. It was the first sign of struggling emotion that she had yet seen, and she gladly recognized the tokens of returning life.
“Showers for the heart,” she said, almost smiling, as she kissed the pale invalid. “May the green grass and the sweet smiling violets soon appear.”
Mrs. Dexter did not reply, but with unusual signs of feeling, hid her face in the garments of her friend.
“How are you to-day?” asked Mrs. De Lisle, after she had given time for emotion to subside.
“About as usual,” was answered, and Mrs. Dexter looked with regaining calmness into her face.