Before Jessie had arisen, Mr. Dexter called. He looked worn and troubled. It was plain that his night had been sleepless.
“How is she?” he asked of Mrs. Loring, almost fearfully, as if dreading the answer. He did not pronounce the name of his wife.
“Better than I had hoped,” was replied.
“Has she required the attention of a physician?”
Mr. Dexter seemed relieved.
“What is her state of mind?”
“She is more tranquil than I had expected to find her.”
Mrs. Loring’s manner was cold.
“Have you conversed with her this morning?”
“Will she see me?”
“I think not.”
“Will you ask her?”
“Not now. She is too weak to bear a recurrence of agitating scenes.”
Mr. Dexter bit his lips firmly as if striving with his feelings.
“When can I see her?”
“That question I am unable now to answer, Mr. Dexter. But my own opinion is that it will be better for you to see her to-morrow than to-day: better next week than to-morrow. You must give time for calmness and reflection.”
“She is my wife!” exclaimed Mr. Dexter,
not able to control himself.
The manner in which this was said conveyed clearly his thought to
Mrs. Loring, and she replied with equal feeling—
“But not your slave to command!”
“Madam! I warn you not to enter into this league against me—not to become a party in this wicked scheme! If you do, then you must bear the consequences of such blind folly. I am not the man to submit tamely. I will not submit.”
“You are simply beating the air,” replied Mrs. Loring. “There is no league against you—no wicked scheme—nothing beyond your own excited imagination; and I warn you, in turn, not to proceed one step further in this direction.”
“Madam! can I see my wife?” The attitude of Mr. Dexter was threatening.
“No, sir. Not now,” was the firmly spoken answer.
He turned to go.
“Well? Say on.”
“I do not wish you to call here again.”
“Madam! my wife is harboring here.”
“I will give my servant orders not to admit you!” said Mrs. Loring, outraged by this remark.
For an instant Dexter looked as if he would destroy her, were it in his power, by a single glance; then turning away he left the house, muttering impotent threats.
And so the breach grew wider.
“I don’t wonder that Jessie could not live with him,” said Mrs. Loring to herself. “Such a temper! Dear heart! Who can tell how much she may have suffered?”
ONCE more Jessie found herself alone in the little chamber where her gentle girlish life, had strengthened towards womanhood. Many times had she visited this chamber since her marriage, going to it as to some pilgrim-shrine, but never with the feelings that now crowded upon her heart. She had returned as a dove, to the ark from the wild waste of waters, wing-weary, faint, frightened—fluttering into this holy place, conscious of safety. She was not to go out again. Blessed thought! How it warmed the life-blood in her heart, and sent the currents in more genial streams through every vein.