It was just one week from the day Paul Hendrickson caught an unexpected glimpse of Mrs. Dexter’s face at the window, and passed on with her image freshened in his heart, that he called in at the Ardens’, after an unusually long absence, to spend an evening. Miss Arden’s countenance lighted with a sudden glow on his appearance, the rich blood dyeing her cheeks, and giving her face a heightened charm; and in the visitor’s eyes there was something gentler and softer in her beauty than he had before observed. He probably guessed the cause; and the thought touched his feelings, and drew his heart something nearer to her.
“That is a painful story about Mrs. Dexter,” said Mrs. Arden, almost as soon as the young man came in. The recently heard facts were uppermost in her thoughts.
“What story? I have not heard anything.” Hendrickson was on his guard in a moment; though he betrayed unusual interest.
“It is dreadful to think of!” said Miss Arden. “What a wretched creature she must be! I always thought her one of the best of women. Though I must own that at Saratoga last summer, she showed rather more fondness for the society of other men than she did for that of her husband.”
“I am still in the dark,” said Mr. Hendrickson, with suppressed excitement.
“Then you haven’t heard of it? Why, it’s the town talk.”
“There’s been a separation between Mrs. Dexter and her husband,” remarked Mrs. Arden. “She left him several days ago, and is now with her aunt, Mrs. Loring.”
“A separation! On what ground?” Hendrickson’s breathing oppressed him.
“Something wrong with Mrs. Dexter, I am told. She had too many admirers—so the story goes; and, worse still—for admiration she couldn’t help—one lover.”
It was Mrs. Arden who said this.
“Who was the lover?” asked Mr. Hendrickson. His voice was so quiet, and his tones so indifferent, that none suspected the intense interest with which he was listening.
“I have not heard his name,” replied Mrs. Arden.
“Does he live in this city?”
“I believe not. Some new acquaintance, made at Newport, I think. You remember that she was very ill there last summer?”
“Well, the cause of that illness is now said to have been a discovery by Mr. Dexter of some indiscretion on her part, followed by angry remonstrance on his.”