When Mrs. Dexter recovered, she was in her own room lying upon her bed. No one was there but her husband. He looked grave to sadness. She looked at him a single moment, then shut her eyes and turned her face away. Mr. Dexter neither moved nor spoke. A more wretched man was scarcely in existence. He believed all against his wife that his words expressed; yet was he conscious of unpardonable indiscretion—and he was deeply troubled as to the consequences of his act. Mrs. Dexter was fully restored to consciousness, and remembered distinctly, the blasting intimations of her husband. But, she was wholly free from excitement, and was thinking calmly.
“Will you send for my aunt?” Mrs. Dexter turned her face from the wall as she said this, speaking in a low but firm voice.
“Not now. Why do you wish to see her?” Mr. Dexter’s tones were low and firm also.
“I shall return to her,” said Mrs. Dexter.
“What do you mean?” Feeling betrayed itself.
“As I am a degraded being in your eyes, you do not, of course, wish me to remain under your roof. And, as you have degraded me by foul and false accusations, against the bare imagination of which my soul revolts, I can no longer share your home, nor eat the bread which your hand provides for me. Where there is no love on one side and no faith on the other, separation becomes inevitable.”
“You talk madly,” said Mr. Dexter.
“Not madly, but soberly,” she answered. “There is an unpardonable sin against a virtuous wife, and you have committed it. Forgiveness is impossible. I wish to see my aunt. Will you send for her, Mr. Dexter?”
“It was a dark day for me, Jessie, when I first looked upon your face,” said Mr. Dexter.
“And darker still for me, sir. Yet, after my constrained marriage, I tried, to the best of my ability, to be all you desired. That I failed, was no fault of mine.”
“Nor mine,” was answered.
“Let us not make matters worse by crimination and recrimination,” said Mrs. Dexter. “It will take nothing from our future peace to remember that we parted in forbearance, instead of with passionate accusation.”
“You are surely beside yourself, Jessie!” exclaimed Mr. Dexter.
She turned her face away, and made no response.
Dexter was frightened. “Could it be possible,” he asked himself, “that his wife really purposed a separation?” The fact loomed up before his imagination with all of its appalling consequences.
A full half hour passed, without a word more from the lips of either. Then Mr. Dexter quietly retired from the room. He had no sooner done this, than Mrs. Dexter arose from the bed, and commenced making changes in her dress. Her face was very white, and her movements unsteady, like the movements of a person just arisen from an exhausting sickness. There was some appearance of hurry and agitation in her manner.