“I have not much strength left. The contest has nearly extinguished my life. This is the last struggle I shall have with you. My first weak thought was to return your letter without a word in reply. But that would have been a wrong to both; and so I have made you this communication, and you must regard it as final. Farewell, unhappy Leon Dexter! I would have saved you from this calamity, but you would not let me! May He who has permitted you thus to drag down the temple of domestic happiness, and bury yourself amid the ruins, give you, in this direful calamity, a higher than human power of endurance. May the fierce flames of this great ordeal, find gold in your character beyond the reach of fire. Farewell, forever! and may God bless and keep you! The prayer is from a heart yet free from guile, and the lips that breathe it upward are as pure as when you laid upon them the marriage kiss! God keep them as guileless and as pure! Amen!
Dexter accepted the decision of his wife as final. What else was left for him? He would have been the dullest of men not to have seen the spirit of this answer, shining everywhere through the letter. Something more than feebly dawned the conviction in his mind, that he had foully wronged his wife, and that the fearful calamity which had overtaken him in the morning of his days, was of his own creating. He did not again attempt to see her; made no further remonstrance; offered no kind of annoyance. A profound respect for the suffering woman who had abandoned him, took the place of indignation against her. In silence he sat down amid his crushed hopes and broken idols, and waited for light to guide him and strength to walk onward. Like thousands of other men, he had discovered that a human soul was not a plaything, nor a piece of machinery to wind up and set in motion at will; and like thousands of other men, he had made this discovery too late.
WITHOUT a note of warning, the public were startled by the news that Mrs. Dexter had left her husband. Wisely, sober second thought laid upon the lips of Mr. Dexter the seal of silence. He gave no reason for the step his wife had taken, and declined answering all inquiries, even from his nearest friends. From a man of impulse, he seemed changed at once into a man of deliberate purpose. His elegant home was not given up, though he lived in it a kind of half hermit life. Abroad, he was reserved; while everything about him gave signs of a painful inward conflict.
Of course, the social air was full of rumors, probable and improbable, but none of them exactly true. Mrs. Dexter was wholly silent, except to her wisest and truest friend, Mrs. De Lisle—and her discretion ever kept her guarded. Mrs. Loring simply alleged “incompatibility of temper”—that vague allegation which covers with its broad mantle so wide a range of domestic antagonisms. And so