The Conqueror by Gertrude Franklin Horn Atherton
Book IV. "Alexander the Great"
He had been gone just thirty-five minutes, Betsey received him with stern approval and announced that she had implicit faith in his promise to avoid Mrs. Croix in the future. But it was quite evident that his punishment was unfinished, and with due humility and some humour he bided her pleasure. Between the two women he had a lively month. Mrs. Croix wrote him a letter a day. At first it was evident that she had taken herself in hand, that her pen was guided by her marvellous intelligence. She apologized charmingly for her exhibition of temper, and for any reflection she might have made upon the most estimable of women, who (with a sigh) had the happiness to be the wife of Alexander Hamilton. She ignored his ultimatum and asked him to come at once, and talk the matter over calmly. Hamilton replied with the graceful playfulness of which he was master, but left no doubt of his continuity of purpose. After the interchange of several letters of this complexion, in which Mrs. Croix was quite conscious of revealing the ample resources of her wit, spirit, and tact, she broke down and went through every circumstance of a despairing woman fighting to recover the supreme happiness of her life. At times she was humble, she prostrated herself at his feet. Again she raved with all the violence of her nature. Her pride, and it was very great, was submerged under the terrible agony of her heart. Even passion was forgotten, and she was sincere for the moment when she vowed that she had no wish beyond his mere presence.
Hamilton was horribly distressed. He would rather she had turned upon him at once with all her tigerish capacity for hate. But he had given his word to his wife, and that was the end of it. He answered every letter, but his gallantry and kindness were pitch and oil, and it was with profound relief that he watched the gradual stiffening of her pride, the dull resentment, even although he knew it meant that an enemy, subtle, resourceful, and venomous, was in the process of making. In her final letter she gave him warning--and a last opportunity. But of this he took no notice.
Meanwhile, Betsey had led him a dance. Naturally bright, but heretofore too sheltered and happy, too undisturbed in her trust, she had done little thinking, little analysis, felt nothing but amusement for the half-comprehended vagaries of men. But jealousy and suffering give a woman, in a week, a fill of knowledge and cunning that will serve her a lifetime. Betsey developed both coquetry and subtlety. She knew that if she obtained command of the situation now, she should hold it to the end, and she was determined that this crisis should result in a close and permanent union. If she finally believed his denial, she was much too shrewd to give him the satisfaction of regaining his former mastery of her mind; but she ceased to speak of it. Meanwhile, he was devoting his energies to winning her again, and he had never found life so interesting. She radiated a new bewitchment, and he had always thought her the most adorable woman on the planet. He divined a good many of her mental processes; but if he was a trifle amused, he was deeply respectful. She was sufficiently uncertain in this new character to torment him unbearably, and when she occasionally betrayed that she was interested and fascinated, he was transported. When she finally succumbed, he was more in love than he had ever been in his life.