THE first year of trial passed. If the young wife's heart-history for that single year could be written, it would make a volume, every pages of which the reader would find (sic) spoted with his tears. No pen but that of the sufferer could write that history; and to her, no second life, even in memory, were endurable. The record is sealed up--and the story will not be told.
It is not within the range of all minds to comprehend what was endured. Wealth, position, beauty, admiration, enlarged intelligence, and highly cultivated tastes, were hers. She was the wife of a man who almost worshipped her, and who ceased not to woo her with all the arts he knew how to practise. Impatient he became, at times, with her impassiveness, and fretted by her coldness. Jealous of her he was always. But he strove to win that love which, ere his half-coercion of her into marriage, he had been warned he did not possess--but his strivings were in vain. He was a meaner bird, and could not mate with the eagle.
To Mrs. Dexter, this life was a breathing death. Yet with a wonderful power of endurance and self-control, she moved along her destined way, and none of the people she met in society--nor even her nearest friends--had any suspicion of her real state of mind. As a wife, her sense of honor was keen. From that virtuous poise, her mind had neither variableness nor shadow of turning. No children came with silken wrappings to hide and make softer the bonds that held her to her husband in a union that only death could dissolve; the hard, icy, galling links of the chain were ever visible, and their trammel ever felt. Cold and desolate the elegant home remained.
In society, Mrs. Dexter continued to hold a brilliant position. She was courted, admired, flattered, envied--the attractive centre to every circle of which she formed a part. Rarely to good advantage did her husband appear, for her mind had so far outrun his in strength and cultivation, that the contrast was seriously against him--and he felt it as another barrier between them.
One year of pride was enough for Mr. Dexter. A beautiful, brilliant, fashionable wife was rather a questionable article to place on exhibition; there was danger, he saw, in the experiment. And so he deemed it only the dictate of prudence to guard her from temptation. An incident determined him. They were at Newport, in the mid-season; and their intention was to remain there two weeks. They had been to Saratoga, where the beauty and brilliancy of Mrs. Dexter drew around her some of the most intelligent and attractive men there. All at once her husband suggested Newport.
"I thought we had fixed on next week," said Mrs. Dexter, in reply.
"I am not well," was the answer. "The sea air will do me good."
"We will go to-morrow, then," was the unhesitating response. Not made with interest or feeling; but promptly, as the dictate of wifely duty.
Just half an hour previous to this brief interview, Mr. Dexter was sitting in one of the parlors, and near him were two men, strangers, in conversation. The utterance by one of them of his wife's name, caused him to be on the instant all attention.
"She's charming!" was the response.
"One of the most fascinating women I have ever met! and my observation, as you know, is not limited. She would produce a sensation in Paris."
"Is she a young widow?"
"Who, or what is her husband?" was asked.
"A rich nobody, I'm told."
"Ah! He has taste."
"Taste in beautiful women, at least," was the rejoinder.
"Is he here?"
"I believe so. He would hardly trust so precious a jewel as that out of his sight. They say he is half-maddened by jealousy."
"And with reason, probably. Weak men, with brilliant, fashionable wives, have cause for jealousy. He's a fool to bring her right into the very midst of temptation."
"Can't help (sic) simelf, I presume. It might not be prudent to attempt the caging system."
A low, chuckling laugh followed. How the blood did go rushing and seething through the veins of Leon Dexter!
"I intend to know more of her," was continued. "Where do they live?"
"Ah! I shall be there during the winter."
"She sees a great deal of company, I am told. Has weekly or monthly 'evenings' at which some of the most intellectual people in the city may be found."
"Easy of access, I suppose?"
"No doubt of it."
Dexter heard no more. On the next day he started with his wife for Newport. The journey was a silent one. They had ceased to converse much when alone. And now there were reasons why Mr. Dexter felt little inclination to intrude any common-places upon his wife.
They were passing into the hotel, on their arrival, when Mr. Dexter, who happened to be looking at his wife, saw her start, flush, and then turn pale. It was the work of an instant. His eyes followed the direction of hers, but failed to recognize any individual among the group of persons near them as the one who thus affected her by his presence. He left her in one of the parlors, while he made arrangements for rooms. In a few minutes he returned. She was sitting as he had left her, seeming scarcely to have stirred during his absence. Her eyes were on the floor, and when he said, "Come, Jessie!" she started and looked up at him, in a confused way.
"Our apartments are ready; come."
He had to speak a second time before she seemed to comprehend his meaning. She arose like one in deep thought, and moved along by her husband's side, leaving the parlor, and going up to the rooms which had been assigned to them. The change in her countenance and manner was so great, that her husband could not help remarking upon it.
"Are you not well, Jessie?" he asked, as she sat down with a weary air.
"Not very well," she answered--yet with a certain evasion of tone that repelled inquiry.
Mr. Dexter scanned her countenance sharply. She lifted her eyes at the moment to his face, and started slightly at the unusual meaning she saw therein. A flush betrayed her disturbed condition; and a succeeding pallor gave signs of unusual pain.
"Will you see a physician!"
"No--no!" she answered, quickly; "it was a momentary sickness--but is passing off now." She arose as she said this, and commenced laying aside her travelling garments. Mr. Dexter sat down, and taking a newspaper from his pocket, pretended to read; but his jealous eyes looked over the sheet, and rested with keen scrutiny on the face of his wife whenever it happened to be turned towards him. That she scarcely thought of his presence, was plain from the fact that she did not once look at him. Suddenly, as if some new thought had crossed his mind, Mr. Dexter arose, and after making some slight changes in his dress, left the apartment and went down stairs. He was evidently in search of some one; for he passed slowly, and with wary eyes, along the passages, porticos and parlors. The result was not satisfactory. He met several acquaintances, and lingered with each in conversation; but the watchful searching eyes were never a moment at rest.
The instant Mr. Dexter left the room, there was a change in his wife. The half indifferent, almost listless manner gave place to one that expressed deep struggling emotions. Her bent form became erect, and she stood for a little while listening with her eyes upon the door, as if in doubt whether her husband would not return. After the lapse of two or three minutes, she walked to the door, and placing her fingers on the key, turned it, locking herself in. This done, she retired slowly towards a lounge by the window, nearly every trace of excitement gone, and sitting down, was soon so entirely absorbed in thought as scarcely to show a sign of external life.
It was half an hour from the time Mr. Dexter left his wife, when he returned. His hand upon the lock aroused her from the waking dream into which she had fallen. As she arose, her manner began to change, and, ere she had reached the door, the quicker flowing blood was restoring the color to her cheeks. She had passed through a long and severe struggle; and woman's virtue, aided by woman's pride and will, had conquered.
Mrs. Dexter spoke to her husband cheerfully as he came in, and met his steady, searching look without a sign of confusion. He was at fault. Yet not deceived.
"Are you better?" he asked.
"Much better," she replied; and turning from him, went on with the arrangement of her toilet, which had been suspended from the period of her husband's absence, until his return. Mr. Dexter passed into their private parlor, adjoining the bedroom, and remained there until his wife had finished dressing.
"Shall we go down?" he inquired, as she came in looking so beautiful in his eyes that the very sight of her surpassing loveliness gave him pain. The Fiend was in his heart.
"Not now," she replied "I am still fatigued with the day's travel, and had rather not see company at present."
She glanced from the window.
"What a sublimity there is in the ocean!" she said, with an unusual degree of interest in her manner, when speaking to her husband. "I can never become so familiar with its grandeur and vastness, as to look upon its face without emotion. You remember Byron's magnificent apostrophe?--
"'Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean, roll.'"
And she repeated several of the stanzas from "Childe Harold," with an effect that stirred her husband's feelings more profoundly than they had ever been stirred by nature and poetry before.
"I have read and heard that splendid passage many times, but never with the meaning and power which your voice has lent to the poet's words," said Dexter, gazing with admiration upon his wife.
He sat down beside her, and took her hand in his. Her eyes wandered to his face, and lingered there as if she were searching the lineaments for a sign of something that her heart could take hold upon and cling to. And it was even so; for she felt that she needed strength and protection in an hour of surely coming trial. A feeble sigh and a drooping of the eyelids attested her disappointment. And yet as he leaned towards her she did not sit more erect, but rather suffered her body to incline to him. He still retained her hand, and she permitted him to toy with it, even slightly returning the pressure he gave.
"You shall be my teacher in the love of nature." He spoke with a glow of true feeling. "The lesson of this evening I shall never forget. Old ocean will always wear a different aspect in my eyes."
"Nature," replied Mrs. Dexter, "is not a mere dead symbol.--It is something more--an outbirth from loving principles--the body of a creating soul. The sea, upon whose restless surface we are gazing, is something more than a briny fluid, bearing ships upon its bosom--something more than a mirror for the arching heavens--something more than a symbol of immensity and eternity. There is a truth in nature far deeper, more divine, and of higher significance."
She paused, and for some moments her thoughts seemed floating away into a world, the real things of which our coarser forms but feebly represent.
"It must be so. I feel that it is so; yet what to you seems clear as the sunbeams, hides itself from me in dusky shadows. But say on Jessie. Your words are pleasant to my ears."
Mrs. Dexter seemed a little surprised at this language, for she turned her eyes from the sea to his face, and looked at him with a questioning gaze for some moments.
"This world is not the real world," she said, speaking earnestly and gazing at him intently to see how far his thought reflected hers.
"Is not this real?" Dexter asked, raising the hand of his wife and looking down upon it. "I call it a real hand."
"And I," said Mrs. Dexter, smiling, "call it only the appearance of a hand; it is the real hand that vitalizes and gives it power. This will decay--this appearance fade--but the real hand of my spirit will live on, immortal in its power as the human soul of which it makes a part."
"Into what strange labyrinths your mind is wandering Jessie!" said Mr. Dexter, a slight shade of disapproval in his voice. "I am afraid you are losing yourself."
"Rather say that I have been lost, and am finding myself in open paths, with the blue sky instead of forest foliage above me."
"Your language is a myth, Jessie. I never heard of your being lost. To me you have been ever present, walking in the sunlight, a divine reality. Not the mere appearance of a woman; but a real woman, and my wife. Pray do not lose yourself now! Do not recede from an actual flesh and blood existence into some world of dim philosophy whither I cannot go. I am not ready for your translation."
Mr. Dexter was half playful, half serious. His reply disappointed his wife. Her manner, warmer than usual, took on a portion of its old reserve. But she went on speaking.
"The immortal soul, spiritual in its essence, yet organized in all its minutest parts--cannot attain its full stature unless it receives immortal food. The aliments of mere sensual life are for the body, and the mind's lowest constituents of being; and they who are content to feed on husks must sort with the common herd. I have higher aspirations, my husband! I see within and above the animal and sensuous a real world of truth and goodness, where, and where only, the soul's immortal desires can be satisfied. With the key in my hand shall I not enter? The common air is too thick for me. I must perish or rise into purer atmospheres."
Mrs. Dexter paused, conscious that her husband did not appreciate her meanings. He was listening intently, and striving apparently after them; but to him only the things of sense were real; and he was not able to comprehend how lasting pleasure was to flow from the intellectual and spiritual. He did not answer, and she lapsed into silence; all the fine enthusiasm that had filled her countenance so full of a living beauty giving place to a cold, calm exterior. She had hoped to quicken her husband's sluggish perceptions, and to create in his mind an incipient love for the pure and beautiful things after which her own mind was beginning to aspire.
In her intercourse with refined and intellectual persons, Mrs. Dexter had made the acquaintance of a lady named Mrs. De Lisle. Her residence was not far from Mrs. Dexter's and they met often for pleasant and profitable conversation. In Mrs. De Lisle, Mrs. Dexter found a woman of not only superior attainments, but one possessing great purity of mind, and a high religious sense of duty. What struck her in the very beginning was a new mode of weighing human actions, and a quiet looking beneath the surface of things, and estimating all she saw by the quality within instead of by the appearance without. From the first, Mrs. Dexter was strongly attracted by this lady; and it was a little remarkable that her husband was as strongly repelled. He did not like her; and often spoke of her sneeringly as using an unknown tongue. His wife contended with him slightly at first in regard to Mrs. De Lisle; but soon ceased to notice his captious remarks.
In Mrs. De Lisle, the struggling and suffering young creature had found a true friend--not true in the sense of a weakly, sympathizing friend, but more really true; one who could lift her soul up into purer regions, and help it to acquire strength for duty.
There was another lady named Mrs. Anthony who had insinuated herself into the good opinion of Mrs. Dexter, and partially, also, into her confidence.
It does not take a quick-sighted woman long to comprehend the true marital standing of the friend in whom she feels an interest. Both Mrs. De Lisle and Mrs. Anthony soon discovered that no love was in the heart of Mrs. Dexter, and that consequently, no interior marriage existed. They saw also that Mr. Dexter was inferior, selfish, captious at times, and kept his wife always under surveillance, as if afraid of her constancy. The different conduct of the ladies, touching this relation of Mrs. Dexter to her husband, was in marked contrast. While Mrs. De Lisle never approached the subject in a way to invite communication, Mrs. Anthony, in the most adroit and insinuating manner, almost compelled a certain degree of confidence--or at least admission that there was not and never could be, any interior conjunction between herself and husband.
Mrs. Anthony was a highly intellectual and cultivated woman, with fascinating manners, a strong will, and singularly fine conversational powers. She usually exercised a controlling influence over all with whom she associated. Happy it was for Mrs. Dexter that a friend like Mrs. De Lisle came to her in the right time, and filled her mind with right principles for her own pure instincts to rest upon as an immovable foundation.
An hour spent in company with Mrs. Anthony always left Mrs. Dexter in a state of disquietude, and suffering from a sense of restriction and wrong. A feeling of alienation from her husband ever accompanied this state, and her spirit beat itself about, striking against the bars of conventional usage, until the bruised wings quivered with pain. But an hour spent with Mrs. De Lisle left her in a very different state. True thoughts were stirred, and the soul lifted upwards into regions of light and beauty. There was no grovelling about the earth, no fanning of selfish fires into smoky flames, no probing of half-closed wounds until the soul writhed in a new-born anguish--but instead, hopeful words, lessons of duty, and the introduction of an ennobling spiritual philosophy, that gave strength and tranquillity for the present, and promised the soul's highest fruition in the surely coming future.
Both Mrs. De Lisle and Mrs. Anthony were at Saratoga. The announcement of Mrs. Dexter that she was going to leave for Newport so suddenly surprised them both, as it had been understood that she was to remain for some time longer.
"My husband wishes to visit Newport now," was the answer of Mrs. Dexter to the surprised exclamation of Mrs. Anthony.
"Tell him that you wish to remain here," replied Mrs. Anthony.
"He is not well, and thinks the sea air will do him good."
"Not well! I met him an hour ago, and never saw him looking better in my life. Do you believe him?"
"Why not?" asked Mrs. Dexter.
Her friend laughed lightly, and then murmured--
"Simpleton! He's only jealous, and wants to get you away from your admirers. Don't go."
Mrs. Dexter laughed with affected indifference, but her color rose.
"You wrong him," she said.
"Not I," was answered. "The signs are too apparent. I am a close observer, my dear Mrs. Dexter, and know the meaning of most things that happen to fall within the range of my observation. Your husband is jealous. The next move will be to shut you up in your chamber, and set a guard before the house. Now if you will take my advice, you'll say to this unreasonable lord and master of yours, 'Please to wait, sir, until I am ready to leave Saratoga. It doesn't suit me to do so just now. If you need the sea, run away to Newport and get a dash of old ocean. I require Congress water a little longer.' That's the way to talk, my little lady. But don't for Heaven's sake begin to humor his capricious fancies. If you do, it's all over."
Mrs. De Lisle was present, but made no remark. Mrs. Dexter parried her friend's admonition with playful words.
"Will you come to my room when disengaged?" said the former, as she rose to leave the parlor where they had been sitting.
Mrs. De Lisle withdrew.
"You'll get a sermon on obedience to husbands," said Mrs. Anthony, tossing her head and smiling a pretty, half sarcastic smile. "I've one great objection to our friend."
"What is it?" inquired Mrs. Dexter.
"She's too proper."
"She's good," said Mrs. Dexter.
"I'll grant that; but then she's too good for me. I like a little wickedness sometimes. It's spicy, and gives a flavor to character."
Mrs. Anthony laughed one of her musical laughs. But growing serious in a moment, she said--
"Now, don't let her persuade you to humor that capricious husband of yours. You are something more than an appendage to the man. God gave you mind and heart, and created you an independent being. And a man is nothing superior to this, that he should attempt to lord it over his equal. I have many times watched this most cruel and exacting of all tyrannies, and have yet to see the case where the yielding wife could ever yield enough. Take counsel in time, my friend. Successful resistance now, will cost but a trifling effort."
Mrs. Dexter neither accepted nor repelled the advice; but her countenance showed that the remarks of Mrs. Anthony gave no very pleasant hue to her thoughts.
"Excuse me," she said rising, "I must see Mrs. De Lisle."
Mrs. Anthony raised her finger, and gave Mrs. Dexter a warning look, as she uttered the words--
"I won't," was answered.
Mrs. De Lisle received her with a serious countenance.
"You go to Newport in the morning?" she spoke, half-questioning and half in doubt.
The countenance of Mrs. De Lisle brightened.
"I thought," she said, after a pause, "that I knew you."
She stopped, as if in doubt whether to go on.
Mrs. Dexter looked into her face a moment.
"You understand me?" Mrs. De Lisle added.
Mrs. Dexter betrayed unusual emotion.
"Forgive me," said her friend, "if I have ventured on too sacred ground. You know how deeply I am interested in you."
Tears filled the eyes of Mrs. Dexter; her lips quivered; every muscle of her face betrayed an inward struggle.
"Dear friend!" Mrs. De Lisle reached out her hands, and Mrs. Dexter leaned forward against her, hiding her face upon her breast. And now strong spasms thrilled her frame; and in weakness she wept--wept a long, long time. Nature had her way. But emotion spent itself, and a deep calm followed.
"Dear, patient, much-enduring, true-hearted friend!"
Mrs. De Lisle spoke almost in a whisper, her lips, close to the ear of Mrs. Dexter. The words, or at least some of them, had the effect to rouse the latter from her half lethargic condition. Lifting her face from the bosom of her friend, she looked up and said--
Patient? Much enduring?
"Is it not so? God give you wisdom, hope, triumph! I have looked into your heart many times, Mrs. Dexter. Not curiously, not as a study, not to see how well you could hide from common eyes its hidden anguish, but in deep and loving compassion, and with a strong desire to help and counsel. Will you admit me to a more sacred friendship?"
"Oh, yes! Gladly! Thankfully!" replied Mrs. Dexter. "How many, many times have I desired to open my heart to you; but dared not. Now, if you have its secret, gained by no purposed act of mine, I will accept the aid and counsel."
"You do not love," said Mrs. De Lisle--not in strong, emphatic utterance--not even calmly--but in a low, almost reluctant voice.
"I am capable of the deepest love," was answered.
"I know it."
"What then?" Mrs. Dexter spoke with some eagerness.
"You are a wife."
"I am," with coldness.
By your own consent?"
"It was extorted. But no matter. I accepted my present relation; and I mean to abide the contract. Oh, my friend! you know not the pain I feel in thus speaking, even to you. This is a subject over which I drew the veil of what I thought to be eternal silence. You have pushed it aside--not roughly, not with idle curiosity, but as a loving friend and counsellor. And now if you can impart strength or comfort, do so; for both are needed."
"The language of Mrs. Anthony pained me," said Mrs. De Lisle.
"Not more than it pained me," was the simple answer.
"And yet, Mrs. Dexter, though I observed you closely, I did not see the indignant flush on your face, that I had hoped to see mantling there."
"It was a simple schooling of the exterior. I felt that she was venturing on improper ground; but I did not care to let my real sentiments appear. Mrs. Anthony lacks delicacy in some things."
"Her remarks I regarded as an outrage. But seriously, Mrs. Dexter, is your husband so much inclined to jealousy?"
"I am afraid so."
"Do you think his purpose to leave Saratoga in the morning, springs from this cause?"
"I am not aware of any circumstance that should give rise to sudden apprehension in his mind. There is no one that I have remarked as offering me particular attentions. I am here, and cannot help the fact that gentlemen of superior taste, education, and high mental accomplishments, seem pleased with my society. I like to meet such persons--I enjoy the intercourse of mind with mind. It is the only compensating life I have. In it I forget for a little while my heart's desolation. In all that it is possible for me to be true to my husband, I am true; and I pray always that God will give me strength to endure even unto the end. His fears wrong me! There is not one of the scores of attractive men who crowd around me in public, who has the power, by look, or word, or action, to stir my heart with even the lightest throb of tender feeling. I have locked the door, and the key is hidden."
Mrs. De Lisle did not answer, for some time.
"Your high sense of honor, pure heart, and womanly perceptions, are guiding you right, I see!" she then remarked; "the ordeal is terrible, but you will pass through unscathed."
"I trust so!" was murmured in a sad voice; "I trust to keep my garments unspotted. Without blame, or suspicion of wrong, I cannot hope to move onward in my difficult way. Nor can I always hope to be patient under captious treatment, and intimations of unfaithfulness. The last will doubtless come; for when the fiend jealousy has enthroned itself in a man's heart, the most common-place actions may be construed into guilty concessions. All this will be deeply humiliating; and I know myself well enough to apprehend occasional indignant reactions, or cool defiances. I possess a high, proud spirit, which, if fairly aroused, is certain to lead me into stubborn resistance. So far I have managed to hold this spirit in abeyance; but if matters progress as they have begun, the climax of endurance will ere long be reached."
"Great circumspection on your part will be needed," said Mrs. De Lisle. "Remember always, your obligations as a wife. In consenting to enter into the most solemn human compact that is ever made, you assumed a position that gave you power over the happiness of another. If, as I gather from some things you have said, you went to the altar under constraint, an unloving bride, so much the more binding on you are the promises then made to seek your husband's happiness--even at the sacrifice of your own. In that act you wronged him--wronged him as no woman has a right to wrong any man, and you can never do enough by way of reparation."
"I was wronged," said Mrs. Dexter, her glance brightening, and a warmth, like indignation, in her voice; "for I was dragged to that marriage-altar against my will, and almost under protest. Mr. Dexter knew that my heart was not his."
"You were a free woman!" replied Mrs. De Lisle.
"I was not free," Mrs. Dexter answered.
"Not free? Who or what constrained you to such an act?"
"My honor. In a moment of weakness, and under the fascination of a strong masculine will, I plighted faith with Mr. Dexter. He knew at the time that I did not love him as a woman should love the man she consents to marry. He knew that he was extorting an unwilling consent. And just so far he took an unmanly advantage of a weak young girl. But the contract once made, truth and honor required its fulfillment. At least, so said my aunt, to whom alone I confided my secret; and so said my stern convictions of duty."
"So far from that," replied Mrs. De Lisle, "truth and honor required its non-fulfillment; for neither in truth nor in honor, could you take the marriage vows."
The directness with which Mrs. De Lisle stated this position of the case, startled her auditor.
"Is it not so?" was calmly asked. "You are too much in the habit of looking below the surface of things, to regard the formula of marriage as an unmeaning array of words. In their full signification, you could not utter the sentences you were required to speak--how then, as regarding truth and honor, could you pronounce them in that act of your life which, of all others, should have been most without guile? I would have torn all such extorted promises into a thousand tatters, and scattered them to the winds! The dishonor of breaking them were nothing to the wrong of fulfillment. Witness your unhappy lives!"
"Would to heaven you had been the friend of my girlhood!"
It was all the reply Mrs. Dexter made, as she bowed her head, like one pressed down by a heavy burden.
"You will now comprehend, more clearly than before," said Mrs. De Lisle, "your present duty to your husband. He thought that he was gaining a wife, and you, in wedding him promised to him to be a wife--promised with a deep conviction in your soul that the words were empty utterances. The case is a sad one, viewed in any aspect; but pardon me for saying, that you were most to blame. He was an ardent lover, whom you had fascinated; a man of superficial character, and not competent, at the time, to weigh the consequences of an act he was so eager to precipitate. To possess, he imagined was to enjoy. But you were better versed in the heart's lore, and knew he would wake up, ere many moons had passed, to the sad discovery that what he had wooed as substance was only a cheating shadow. And he is waking up. Every day he is becoming more and more clearly convinced that you do not love him, and can never be to him the wife he had fondly hoped to gain. Have you not laid upon yourself a binding obligation? Is it a light thing so to mar the whole life of man? Your duty is plain, Mrs. Dexter. Yield all to him you can, and put on towards him always the sunniest aspects and gentlest semblances of your character. If he is capricious, humor him; if suspicious, act with all promptness in removing suspicion to the extent of your power. Make soft the links of the chain that binds you together, with downy coverings. Truth, honor, duty, religion, all require this."
"Dear friend!" said Mrs. Dexter, grasping the hand of Mrs. De Lisle, "you have lifted me out of a thick atmosphere, through which my eyes saw everything in an uncertain light, up into a clear seeing region. Yes, truth, honor, duty, religion, all speak to my convictions; and with all the truth that in me lieth, will I obey their voice. But love is impossible, and its semblance in me is so faint that my husband cannot see the likeness. There lies the difficulty. He wants a fond, tender, loving wife--a pet and a plaything. These he can never find in me; for, Heaven help me! Mrs. De Lisle, his sphere grows more and more repulsive every day, and I shudder sometimes at the thought of unmitigated disgust!"
"Do your best, my friend," was the answer of of Mrs. De Lisle. "Fill, to the utmost of your ability, all your wifely relations, and seek to develop in your husband those higher qualities of thought and feeling to which your spirit can attach itself. And above all, do not listen to such erroneous counsels as Mrs. Anthony gave just now. If followed they will surely produce a harvest of misery."
"Thanks, good counsellor! I will heed your words. They come in the right time, and strengthen my better purposes," said Mrs. Dexter. "To-morrow I shall leave with my husband for Newport, and he shall see in me no signs of reluctance. Nor do I care, except to leave your company. I will find as much to keep my thoughts busy at Newport as here."
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