“If it is Mr. Dexter, what shall I say? Hark! Yes! It is his step, and his voice.”
“Say that I cannot be seen, and that I have left him forever.”
“Aunt Loring, remonstrance is vain! I have not taken this step without a deep consciousness of being right; and no power on earth can lead me to retrace it. Let him comprehend that, in its plain significance; the sooner he does so the better will it be for both.”
“Mr. Dexter wishes to see you,” said a servant, coming to the door.
“Say that I will be down in a moment.”
Mrs. Loring stood for some time, endeavoring to collect her thoughts and calm her feelings. She then went down to the parlor.
“Is Jessie here?” inquired Mr. Dexter, in a hurried manner.
“She is,” replied Mrs. Loring.
“I wish to see her.”
“Sit down, Mr. Dexter. I want to speak with you about Jessie.”
Mr. Dexter sat down, though with signs of impatience.
“What is the meaning of this? What has happened, Mr. Dexter?”
“Only a slight misunderstanding. Jessie is over sensitive. But I must see her immediately; and alone, if you please, Mrs. Loring.”
“I am sorry, Mr. Dexter, but Jessie will not see you.”
“Not see me!”
“Go and say that I am here, and that I must see her, if only for a single moment.”
“She knows you are here, Mr. Dexter; and her message is—’Say that I cannot seen.’”
“Where is she?” Mr. Dexter moved towards the door; but Mrs. Loring, who had taken it into her head that personal abuse—a blow, perhaps—was the cause of Jessie’s flight from the residence of her husband—(she could understand and be properly indignant at such an outrage), stepping before him said—
“Don’t forget, sir, that this is my house! You cannot pass into any of its apartments unless I give permission. And such permission is now withheld. My niece is in no condition for exciting interviews. There has been enough of that for one day, I should think.”
“What do you mean? What has she said?” demanded Mr. Dexter, looking almost fiercely at Mrs. Loring.
“Nothing!” was replied. “She refuses to answer my questions. But I see that her mind is greatly agitated, while her person bears evidence of cruel treatment.”
“Mrs. Loring!” Dexter understood her meaning, and instantly grew calm. “Evidences of cruel treatment!”
“Yes, sir! Her cheek and temple are discolored from a recent bruise. How came this?”
“She fainted, and struck herself in falling.”
“In your presence?”
“And you did not put forth a hand to save her!”
Mrs. Loring’s foregone conclusions were running away with her.
“Excuse me madam,” said Mr. Dexter, coldly, “you are going beyond the record. I am not here at the confessional, but to see my wife. Pray, do do not interpose needless obstacles.”