Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Family Pride - Or, Purified by Suffering
Author: Holmes, Mary Jane, 1825-1907
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Family Pride - Or, Purified by Suffering" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



                              FAMILY PRIDE


                          Purified by Suffering

                            BY MARY J. HOLMES

Author of "Dora Deane," "The English Orphans," "Homestead on the
Hillside," "Tempest and Sunshine," "Lena Rivers," "Meadowbrook," "Cousin
Maude," etc., etc.



CHAPTER I.

THE FARMHOUSE AT SILVERTON.


Uncle Ephraim Barlow, deacon of the orthodox church in Silverton,
Massachusetts, was an old-fashioned man, clinging to the old-time
customs of his fathers, and looking with but little toleration upon what
he termed the "new-fangled notions" of the present generation. Born and
reared amid the rocks and hills of the Bay State, his nature partook
largely of the nature of his surroundings, and he grew into manhood with
many a rough point adhering to his character, which, nevertheless, taken
as a whole, was, like the wild New England scenery, beautiful and grand.
None knew Uncle Ephraim Barlow but to respect him, and at the church
where he was a worshiper few would have been missed more than the tall,
muscular man, with the long, white hair, who Sunday after Sunday walked
slowly up the middle aisle to his accustomed seat before the altar, and
who regularly passed the contribution box, bowing involuntarily in token
of approbation when a neighbor's gift was larger than its wont, and
gravely dropping in his own ten cents--never more, never less--always
ten cents--his weekly offering, which he knew amounted in a year to just
five dollars and twenty cents. And still Uncle Ephraim was not stingy,
as the Silverton poor could testify, for many a load of wood and bag of
meal found entrance to the doors where cold and hunger would have
otherwise been, while to his minister he was literally a holder up of
the weary hands, and a comforter in the time of trouble.

His helpmeet, Aunt Hannah, like that virtuous woman mentioned in the
Bible, was one "who seeketh wool and flax, and worketh willingly with
her hands, who riseth while yet it is night, and giveth meat to her
household." Indeed, for this last stirring trait Aunt Hannah was rather
famous, especially on Monday mornings, when her washing was invariably
swinging on the line ready to greet the rising sun.

Miss Betsy Barlow, too, the deacon's maiden sister, was a character in
her way, and was surely not one of those vain, frivolous females to whom
the Apostle Paul had reference when he condemned the plaiting of hair
and the wearing of gold and jewels. Quaint, queer and simple-hearted,
she had but little idea of any world this side of heaven, except the one
bounded by the "huckleberry" hills and the crystal waters of Fairy Pond,
which from the back door of the farmhouse were plainly seen, both in the
summer sunshine and when the intervening fields were covered with the
winter snow.

The home of such a trio was, like themselves, ancient and unpretentious,
nearly one hundred years having elapsed since the solid foundation was
laid to a portion of the building. Unquestionably, it was the oldest
house in Silverton, for on the heavy, oaken door of what was called the
back room was still to be seen the mark of a bullet, left there by some
marauders who, during the Revolution, had encamped in that neighborhood.
George Washington, too, it was said, had once spent a night beneath its
roof, the deacon's mother pouring for him her Bohea tea and breaking her
home-made bread. Since that time several attempts had been made to
modernize the house. Lath and plaster had been put upon the rafters and
paper upon the walls, wooden latches had given place to iron, while in
the parlor, where Washington had slept, there was the extravagance of a
knob, a genuine porcelain knob, such, as Uncle Ephraim said, was only
fit for the gentry who could afford to be grand. For himself, he was
content to live as his father did; but young folks, he supposed, must in
some things have their way, and so when his pretty niece, who had lived
with him from childhood to the day of her marriage, came back to him a
widow, bringing her two fatherless children and a host of new ideas, he
good-humoredly suffered her to tear down some of his household idols
and replace them with her own. And thus it was that the farmhouse
gradually changed its appearance both outwardly and in, for young
womanhood which had but one glimpse of the outer world will not settle
down quietly amid fashions a century old. And Lucy Lennox, when she
returned to the farmhouse, was not quite the same as when she went away.
Indeed, Aunt Betsy in her guileless heart feared that she had actually
fallen from grace, imputing the fall wholly to Lucy's predilection for
a certain little book on whose back was written "Common Prayer," and at
which Aunt Betsy scarcely dared to look, lest she should be guilty of
the enormities practiced by the Romanists themselves. Clearer headed
than his sister, the deacon read the black-bound book, finding therein
much that was good, but wondering why, when folks promised to renounce
the pomps and vanities, they did not do so, instead of acting more stuck
up than ever. Inconsistency was the underlying strata of the whole
Episcopal Church, he said, and as Lucy, without taking any public step,
had still declared her preference for that church, he, too, in a
measure, charged her propensity for repairs to the same source with Aunt
Betsy; but, as he could really see no sin in what she did, he suffered
her in most things to have her way. But when she contemplated an attack
upon the huge chimney occupying the center of the building, he
interfered; for there was nothing he liked better than the bright fire
on the hearth when the evenings grew chilly and long, and the autumn
rain was falling upon the roof. The chimney should stand, he said; and
as no amount of coaxing could prevail on him to revoke his decision, the
chimney stood, and with it the three fireplaces, where, in the fall and
spring, were burned the twisted knots too bulky for the kitchen stove.
This was fourteen years ago, and in that lapse of time Lucy Lennox had
gradually fallen in with the family ways of living, and ceased to talk
of her cottage in Western New York, where her husband had died and where
were born her daughters, one of whom she was expecting home on the warm
July day when our story opens.

Kate, or Katy Lennox, our heroine, had been for a year an inmate of
Canandaigua Seminary, whither she was sent at the expense of a distant
relative to whom her father had been guardian, and who, during her
infancy, had also had a home with Uncle Ephraim, her mother having
brought her with her when, after her husband's death, she returned to
Silverton. Dr. Morris Grant he was now, and he had just come home from a
three years' sojourn in Paris, and was living in his own handsome
dwelling across the fields toward Silverton village, and half a mile or
more from Uncle Ephraim's farmhouse. He had written from Paris, offering
to send his cousins, Helen and Kate, to any school their mother might
select, and as Canandaigua was her choice, they had both gone thither a
year ago, Helen, the eldest, falling sick within the first three months,
and returning home to Silverton, satisfied that the New England schools
were good enough for her. This was Helen; but Katy was different. Katy
was more susceptible of polish and refinement--so the mother thought;
and as she arranged and rearranged the little parlor, lingering longest
by the piano, Dr. Morris' gift, she drew bright pictures of her favorite
child, wondering how the plain farmhouse and its inmates would seem to
her after Canandaigua and all she must have seen during her weeks of
travel since the close of the summer term. And then she wondered next
why Cousin Morris was so much annoyed when told that Katy had accepted
an invitation to accompany Mrs. Woodhull and her party on a trip to
Montreal and Lake George, taking Boston on her homeward route. Surely
Katy's movements were nothing to him, unless--and the little, ambitious
mother struck at random a few notes of the soft-toned piano as she
thought how possible it was that the interest always manifested by the
staid, quiet Morris Grant for her light-hearted Kate was more than a
brotherly interest, such as he would naturally feel for the daughter of
one who had been to him a second father. But Katy was so much a child
when he went away to Paris that it could not be. She would sooner think
of the dark-haired Helen, who was older and more like him.

"It's Helen, if anybody," she said aloud, just as a voice at the window
called out: "Please, Cousin Lucy, relieve me of these flowers. I brought
them over in honor of Katy's return."

Blushing guiltily, Mrs. Lennox advanced to meet a tall, dark-looking
man, with a grave, pleasant face, which, when he smiled, was strangely
attractive, from the sudden lighting up of the hazel eyes and the
glitter of the white, even teeth disclosed so fully to view.

"Oh, thank you, Morris! Kitty will like them, I am sure," Mrs. Lennox
said, taking from his hand a bouquet of the choice flowers which grew
only in the hothouse at Linwood. "Come in for a moment, please."

"No, thank you," the doctor replied. "There is a case of rheumatism just
over the hill, and I must not be idle if I would retain the practice
given to me. Not that I make anything but good will as yet, for only the
Silverton poor dare trust their lives in my inexperienced hands. But I
can afford to wait," and with another flash of the hazel eyes Morris
walked away a pace or two, but, as if struck with some sudden thought,
turned back, and fanning his heated face with his leghorn hat, said,
hesitatingly: "By the way, Uncle Ephraim's last payment on the old mill
falls due to-morrow. Tell him, if he says anything in your presence, not
to mind unless it is perfectly convenient. He must be somewhat
straitened just now, as Katy's trip cannot have cost him a small sum."

The clear, penetrating eyes were looking full at Mrs. Lennox, who for
a moment felt slightly piqued that Morris Grant should take so much
oversight of her uncle's affairs. It was natural, too, that he should,
she knew, for, widely different as were their tastes and positions in
life, there was a strong liking between the old man and the young, who,
from having lived nine years in the family, took a kindly interest in
everything pertaining to them.

"Uncle Ephraim did not pay the bills," Mrs. Lennox faltered at last,
feeling intuitively how Morris' delicate sense of propriety would shrink
from her next communication. "Mrs. Woodhull wrote that the expense
should be nothing to me, and as she is fully able, and makes so much of
Katy, I did not think it wrong."

"Lucy Lennox! I am astonished!" was all Morris could say, as the tinge
of wounded pride dyed his cheek.

Kate was a connection--distant, it is true; but his blood was in her
veins, and his inborn pride shrank from receiving so much from
strangers, while he wondered at her mother, feeling more and more
convinced that what he had so long suspected was literally true. Mrs.
Lennox was weak, Mrs. Lennox was ambitious, and for the sake of
associating her daughter with people whom the world had placed above
her she would stoop to accept that upon which she had no claim.

"Mrs. Woodhull was so urgent and so fond of Katy; and then, I thought it
well to give her the advantage of being with such people as compose that
party, the very first in Canandaigua, besides some from New York," Mrs.
Lennox began in self-defense, but Morris did not stop to hear more, and
hurried off a second time, while Mrs. Lennox looked after him, wondering
at the feeling which she called pride, and which she could not
understand. "If Katy can go with the Woodhulls and their set, I
certainly shall not prevent it," she thought, as she continued her
arrangement of the parlor, wishing so much that it was more like what
she remembered Mrs. Woodhull's to have been, fifteen years ago.

Of course that lady had kept up with the times, and if her old house was
finer than anything Mrs. Lennox had ever seen, what must her new one be,
with all the modern improvements? and, leaning her head upon the mantel,
Mrs. Lennox thought how proud she would be could she live to see her
daughter in similar circumstances to the envied Mrs. Woodhull, at that
moment in the crowded car between Boston and Silverton, tired, hot, and
dusty, worn out, and as nearly cross as a fashionable lady can be.

A call from Uncle Ephraim aroused her, and going out into the square
entry she tied his gingham cravat, and then handing him the big
umbrella, an appendage he took with him in sunshine and in storm, she
watched him as he stepped into his one-horse wagon and drove briskly
away in the direction of the depot, where he was to meet his niece.

"I wish Cousin Morris had offered his carriage," she thought, as the
corn-colored and white wagon disappeared from view. "The train stops
five minutes at West Silverton, and some of those grand people will be
likely to see the turnout," and with a sigh as she doubted whether it
were not a disgrace as well as an inconvenience to be poor, she repaired
to the kitchen, where sundry savory smells betokened a plentiful dinner.

Bending over the sink, with her cap strings tucked back, her sleeves
rolled up, and her short, purple calico shielded from harm by her broad,
motherly check apron, Aunt Betsy stood cleaning the silvery onions, and
occasionally wiping her dim old eyes as the odor proved too strong for
her. At another table stood Aunt Hannah, deep in the mysteries of the
light, white crust which was to cover the tender chicken boiling in the
pot, while in the oven bubbled and baked the custard pie, remembered
as Katy's favorite, and prepared for her coming by Helen
herself--plain-spoken, blue-eyed Helen--now out in the strawberry beds,
picking the few luscious berries which almost by a miracle had been
coaxed to wait for Katy, who loved them so dearly. Like her mother,
Helen had wondered how the change would impress her bright little
sister, for she remembered well that even to her obtuse perceptions
there had come a pang when, after only three months abiding in a place
where the etiquette of life was rigidly enforced, she had returned to
their homely ways, and felt that it was worse than vain to try to effect
a change. But Helen's strong sense, with the help of two or three good
cries, had carried her safely through, and her humble home amid the
hills was very dear to her now. But she was Helen, as the mother had
said; she was different from Katy, who might be lonely and homesick,
sobbing herself to sleep in her patient sister's arms, as she did on
that first night in Canandaigua, which Helen remembered so well.

"It's better, too, now, than when I came home," Helen thought, as with
her rich, scarlet fruit she went slowly to the house. "Morris is here,
and the new church, and if she likes she can teach in Sunday school,
though maybe she will prefer going with Uncle Ephraim. He will be
pleased if she does," and, pausing by the door, Helen looked across
Fairy Pond in the direction of Silverton village, where the top of a
slender spire was just visible--the spire of St. John's, built within
the year, and mostly, as it was whispered, at the expense of Dr. Morris
Grant, who, a zealous churchman himself, had labored successfully to
instill into Helen's mind some of his own peculiar views, as well as to
awaken in Mrs. Lennox's heart the professions which had lain dormant for
as long a time as the little black-bound book had lain on the cupboard
shelf, forgotten and unread.

How the doctor's views were regarded by the deacon's family we shall
see, perhaps, by and by. At present our story has to do with Helen,
holding her bowl of berries by the rear door and looking across the
distant fields. With one last glance at the object of her thoughts she
re-entered the house, where her mother was arranging the square table
for dinner, bringing out the white stone china instead of the mulberry
set kept for everyday use.

"We ought to have had some silver forks before Katy came home," she
said, despondingly, as she laid by each plate the three-lined forks of
steel, to pay for which Helen and Katy had picked huckleberries on the
hills and dried apples from the orchard.

"Never mind, mother," Helen answered, cheerily; "if Katy is as she used
to be, she will care more for us than for silver forks, and I guess she
is, for I imagine it would take a great deal to make her anything but a
warmhearted, merry little creature."

This was sensible Helen's tribute of affection to the little, gay,
chattering butterfly, at that moment an occupant of Uncle Ephraim's
corn-colored wagon, and riding with that worthy toward home, throwing
kisses to every barefoot boy and girl she met, and screaming with
delight as the old familiar waymarks met her view.

"There are the oxen, the darling oxen, and that's Aunt Betsy, with her
dress pinned up as usual," she cried, when at last the wagon stopped
before the door; and the four women stepped hurriedly out to meet her,
almost smothering her with caresses, and then holding her off to see if
she had changed.

She was very stylish in her pretty traveling dress of gray, made under
Mrs. Woodhull's supervision, and nothing could be more becoming than her
jaunty hat, tied with ribbons of blue, while the dainty kids, bought to
match the dress, fitted her fat hands charmingly, and the little
high-heeled boots of soft prunella were faultless in their style. She
was very attractive in her personal appearance, and the mental verdict
of the four females regarding her intently was something as follows:
Mrs. Lennox detected unmistakable marks of the grand society she had
been mingling in, and was pleased accordingly; Aunt Hannah pronounced
her "the prettiest creeter she had ever seen;" Aunt Betsy decided that
her hoops were too big and her clothes too fine for a Barlow; while
Helen, who looked beyond dress, or style, or manner, straight into her
sister's soft, blue eyes, brimming with love and tears, decided that
Katy was not changed for the worse. Nor was she. Truthful, loving,
simple-hearted and full of playful life she had gone from home, and she
came back the same--never once thinking of the difference between the
farmhouse and Mrs. Woodhull's palace, or if she did, giving the
preference to the former.

"It was perfectly splendid to get home," she said, handing her gloves
to Helen, her sunshade to her mother, her satchel to Aunt Hannah, and
tossing her bonnet in the vicinity of the water pail--from which it was
saved by Aunt Betsy, who, remembering the ways of her favorite child,
put it carefully in the press, examining it closely first and wondering
how much it cost.

Deciding that "it was a good thumpin' price," she returned to the
kitchen, where Katy, dancing and curveting in circles, scarcely stood
still long enough for them to see that in spite of boarding school fare,
of which she had complained so bitterly, her cheeks were rounded, her
eyes brighter, and her lithe little figure fuller than of old. She had
improved in looks, but she did not appear to know it, or to guess how
beautiful she was in the fresh bloom of seventeen, with her golden hair
waving around her childish forehead, and her deep, blue eyes laughing so
expressively with each change of her constantly varying face. Everything
animate and inanimate pertaining to the old house was noticed by her.
She kissed the kitten, squeezed the cat, hugged the dog, and hugged the
little goat, tied to his post in the clover yard and trying so hard to
get free. The horse, to whom she fed handfuls of grass, had been already
hugged. She did that the first thing after strangling Uncle Ephraim as
she alighted from the train, and some from the car window saw it, too,
smiling at what they termed the charming simplicity of an enthusiastic
schoolgirl. Blessed youth! blessed early girlhood, surrounded by a halo
of rare beauty! It was Katy's shield and buckler, warding off many a
cold criticism which might otherwise have been passed upon her.

They were sitting down to dinner now, and the deacon's voice trembled
as, with the blessing invoked, he thanked God for bringing back to them
the little girl, whose head was for a moment bent reverently, but
quickly lifted itself up as its owner, in the same breath with that in
which the deacon uttered his amen, declared how hungry she was, and went
into rhapsodies over the nicely cooked viands which loaded the table.
The best bits were hers that day, and she refused nothing until it came
to Aunt Betsy's onions, once her special delight, but now declined,
greatly to the distress of the old lady, who, having been on the watch
for "quirks," as she styled any departure from long-established customs,
now knew she had found one, and with an injured expression withdrew the
offered bowl, saying sadly: "You used to eat 'em raw, Catherine; what's
got into you?"

It was the first time Aunt Betsy had called a name so obnoxious to Kate,
especially when, as in the present case, great emphasis was laid upon
the "rine," and from past experience Katy knew that her good aunt was
displeased. Her first impulse was to accept the dish refused; but when
she remembered her reason for refusing, she said, laughingly: "Excuse
me, Aunt Betsy, I love them still, but--but--well, the fact is, I am
going by and by to run over and see Cousin Morris, inasmuch as he was
not polite enough to come here, and you know it might not be so
pleasant."

"The land!" and Aunt Betsy brightened. "If that's all, eat 'em. 'Tain't
noways likely you'll get near enough to him to make any difference--only
turn your head when you shake hands."

But Katy remained incorrigible, while Helen, who guessed that her
impulsive sister was contemplating a warmer greeting of the doctor than
a mere shaking of his hands, kindly turned the conversation by telling
how Morris was improved by his tour abroad, and how much the poor people
thought of him.

"He is very fine looking, too," she said, whereupon Katy involuntarily
exclaimed: "I wonder if he is as handsome as Wilford Cameron? Oh, I
never wrote about him, did I?" and the little maiden began to blush as
she stirred her tea industriously.

"Who is Wilford Cameron?" asked Mrs. Lennox.

"Oh, he's Wilford Cameron, that's all; lives on Fifth Avenue--is a
lawyer--is very rich--a friend of Mrs. Woodhull, and was with us in
our travels," Katy answered, rapidly, the red burning on her cheeks so
brightly that Aunt Betsy innocently passed her a big feather fan, saying
she looked mighty hot.

And Katy was warm, but whether from talking of Wilford Cameron or not
none could tell. She said no more of him, but went on to speak of
Morris, asking if it were true, as she had heard, that he built the
new church in Silverton.

"Yes, and runs it, too," Aunt Betsy answered, energetically, proceeding
to tell what goin's-on they had, with the minister shiftin' his clothes
every now and ag'in, and the folks all talkin' together. "Morris got me
in once," she said, "and I thought meetin' was left out half a dozen
times, so much histin' round as there was. I'd as soon go to a show, if
it was a good one, and I told Morris so. He laughed and said I'd feel
different when I knew 'em better; but needn't tell me that prayers made
up is as good as them as isn't, though Morris, I do believe, will get to
heaven a long ways ahead of me, if he is a 'Piscopal."

To this there was no response, and being launched on her favorite topic,
Aunt Betsy continued:

"If you'll believe it, Helen here is one of 'em, and has got a sight
of 'Piscopal quirks into her head. Why, she and Morris sing that
talkin'-like singin' Sundays when the folks git up and Helen plays the
accordeon."

"Melodeon, aunty, melodeon," and Helen laughed merrily at her aunt's
mistake, turning the conversation again, and this time to Canandaigua,
where she had some acquaintances.

But Katy was so much afraid of Canandaigua, and what talking of it might
lead to, that she kept to Cousin Morris, asking innumerable questions
about him, his house and grounds, and whether there were as many
flowers there now as there used to be in the days when she and Helen
went to say their lessons at Linwood, as they had done before Morris
sailed for Europe.

"I think it right mean in him not to be here to see me," she said,
poutingly, "and I am going over as quick as I eat my dinner."

But against this all exclaimed at once. She was too tired, the mother
said. She must lie down and rest, while Helen suggested that she had not
yet told them about her trip, and Uncle Ephraim remarked that she would
not find Morris home, as he was going that afternoon to Spencer. This
last settled it. Katy must stay at home; but instead of lying down or
talking much about her journey, she explored every nook and crevice of
the old house and barn, finding the nest Aunt Betsy had so long looked
for in vain, and proving to the anxious dame that she was right when she
insisted that the speckled hen had stolen her nest and was in the act of
setting. Later in the day, and a neighbor passing by spied the little
maiden riding in the cart off into the meadow, where she sported like a
child among the mounds of fragrant hay, playing her jokes upon the sober
deacon, who smiled fondly upon her, feeling how much lighter the labor
seemed because she was there with him, a hindrance instead of a help, in
spite of her efforts to handle the rake skillfully.

"Are you glad to have me home again, Uncle Eph?" she asked, when once
she caught him regarding her with a peculiar look.

"Yes, Katy-did, very glad," he answered. "I've missed you every day,
though you do nothing much but bother me."

"Why did you look funny at me just now?" Katy continued, and the deacon
replied: "I was thinking how hard it would be for such a highty-tighty
thing as you to meet the crosses and disappointments which lie all along
the road which you must travel. I should hate to see your young life
crushed out of you, as young lives sometimes are."

"Oh, never fear for me. I am going to be happy all my life long. Wilford
Cameron said I ought to be," and Katy tossed into the air a wisp of the
new-made hay.

"I don't know who Wilford Cameron is, but there's no ought about it,"
the deacon rejoined. "God marks out the path for us to walk in, and when
he says it's best, we know it is, though some are straight and pleasant
and others crooked and hard."

"I'll choose the straight and pleasant, then--why shouldn't I?" Kate
asked, laughingly, as she seated herself upon a rock near which the hay
cart had stopped.

"Can't tell what path you'll take," the deacon answered. "God knows
whether you'll go easy through the world, or whether he'll send you
suffering to purify and make you better."

"Purified by suffering," Kate said aloud, while a shadow involuntarily
crept for an instant over her gay spirits.

She could not believe she was to be purified by suffering. She had never
done anything very bad, and humming a part of a song learned from
Wilford Cameron, she followed after the loaded cart, returning slowly to
the house, thinking to herself that there must be something great and
good in the suffering which should purify at last, but hoping she was
not the one to whom this great good should come.

It was supper time ere long, and after that was over Kate announced her
intention of going now to Linwood, Morris' home, whether he were there
or not.

"I can see the housekeeper and the birds and flowers, and maybe he will
come pretty soon," she said, as she swung her straw hat by the string
and started from the door.

"Ain't Helen going with you?" Aunt Hannah asked, while Helen herself
looked a little surprised.

But Katy would rather go alone. She had a heap to tell Cousin Morris,
and Helen could go next time.

"Just as you like;" Helen answered, good-naturedly; but there was a
half-dissatisfied, wistful look on her face as she watched her young
sister tripping across the fields to call on Morris Grant.



CHAPTER II.

LINWOOD.


Morris had returned from Spencer, and in his dressing-gown and slippers
was sitting by the window of his cheerful library, looking out upon the
purple sunshine flooding the western sky, and thinking of the little
girl coming so rapidly up the grassy lane in the rear of the house. He
was going over to see her by and by, he said, and he pictured to himself
how she must look by this time, hoping that he should not find her
greatly changed, for Morris Grant's memories were very precious of the
playful child who, in that very room where he was sitting, used to tease
and worry him so much with her lessons poorly learned, and the
never-ending jokes played off upon her teacher. He had thought of her so
often when across the sea, and, knowing her love of the beautiful, he
had never looked upon a painting or scene of rare beauty that he did not
wish her by his side sharing in the pleasure. He had brought her from
that far-off land many little trophies which he thought she would prize,
and which he was going to take with him when he went to the farmhouse.
He never dreamed of her coming there to-night. She would, of course,
wait for him. Helen had, even when it was more her place to call upon
him first. How, then, was he amazed when, just as the sun was going down
and he was watching its last rays lingering on the brow of the hill
across the pond, the library door was opened wide and the room seemed
suddenly filled with life and joy, as a graceful figure, with reddish,
golden hair, bounded across the floor, and winding its arms around his
neck gave him the hearty kiss which Katy had in her mind when she
declined Aunt Betsy's favorite vegetable.

Morris Grant was not averse to being kissed, and yet the fact that Katy
Lennox had kissed him in such a way awoke a chill of disappointment, for
it said that to her he was the teacher still, the elder brother, whom,
as a child, she had in her pretty way loaded with caresses.

"Oh, Cousin Morris!" she exclaimed, and, still holding his hand: "Why
didn't you come over at noon, you naughty, naughty boy? But what a
splendid-looking man you've got to be, though! and what do you think of
me?" she added, blushing for the first time, as he held her off from him
and looked into the sunny face.

"I think you wholly unchanged," he answered, so gravely that Katy began
to pout as she said: "And you are sorry, I know. Pray, what did you
expect of me, and what would you have me be?"

"Nothing but what you are--the same Kitty as of old," he answered, his
own bright smile breaking all over his sober face.

He saw that his manner repelled her, and he tried to be natural,
succeeding so well that Katy forgot her first disappointment, and making
him sit by her on the sofa, where she could see him distinctly, she
poured forth a volley of talk, telling him, among other things, how much
afraid of him some of his letters made her--they were so serious and so
like a sermon.

"You wrote me once that you thought of being a minister," she added.
"Why did you change your mind? It must be splendid, I think, to be a
young clergyman--invited to so many tea-drinkings, and having all the
girls in the parish after you, as they always are after unmarried
ministers."

Into Morris Grant's eyes there stole a troubled light as he thought how
little Katy realized what it was to be a minister of God--to point the
people heavenward and teach them the right way. There was a moment's
pause, and then he tried to explain to her that he hoped he had not been
influenced either by thought of tea-drinking or having the parish girls
after him, but rather by an honest desire to choose the sphere in which
he could accomplish the most good.

"I did not decide rashly," he said, "but after weeks of anxious thought
and prayer for guidance I came to the conclusion that in the practice of
medicine I could find perhaps as broad a field for good as in the
church, and so I decided to go on with my profession--to be a physician
of the poor and suffering, speaking to them of Him who came to save, and
in this way I shall not labor in vain. Many would seek another place
than Silverton and its vicinity, but something told me that my work was
here, and so I am content to stay, feeling thankful that my means admit
of my waiting for patients, if need be, and at the same time ministering
to the wants of those who are needy."

Gradually, as he talked, there came into his face a light, born only
from the peace which passeth understanding, and the awe-struck Katy
crept closer to his side, and, grasping his hand in hers, said, softly:
"Dear cousin, what a good man you are, and how silly I must seem to you,
thinking you cared for tea-drinkings, or even girls, when, of course,
you do not."

"Perhaps I do," the doctor replied, slightly pressing the warm, fat hand
holding his so fast. "A minister's or a doctor's life would be dreary
indeed if there was no one to share it, and I have had my dreams of the
girls, or girl, who was some day to brighten up my home."

He looked fully at Katy now, but she was thinking of something else, and
her next remark was to ask him, rather abruptly, how old he was.

"Twenty-six last May," he answered, while Katy continued: "You are not
old enough to be married yet. Wilford Cameron is thirty."

"Where did you meet Wilford Cameron?" Morris asked, in some surprise,
and then the story which Katy had not told, even to her sister, came out
in full, and Morris tried to listen patiently while Katy explained how,
on the very first day of the examination, Mrs. Woodhull had come in, and
with her the grandest, proudest-looking man, who the girls some of them
said was Mr. Wilford Cameron, from New York, a very fastidious bachelor,
whose family were noted for their wealth and exclusiveness, keeping six
servants, and living in the finest style; that Mrs. Woodhull, who all
through the year had been very kind to Katy, came to her after school
and invited her home to tea; that she had gone, and met Mr. Cameron;
that she was very much afraid of him at first, and was not sure that she
was quite over it now, although he was so polite to her all through the
journey, taking so much pains to have her see the finest sights, and
laughing at her enthusiasm.

"Wilford Cameron with you on your trip?" Morris asked, a new idea,
dawning on his mind.

"Yes; let me tell you," and Katy spoke rapidly. "I saw him that night,
and then Mrs. Woodhull took me to ride with him in the carriage, and
then--well, I rode alone with him once down by the lake, and he talked
to me just as if he was not a grand man and I a little schoolgirl. And
when the term closed I stayed at Mrs. Woodhull's, and he was there. He
liked my playing and liked my singing, and I guess he liked me--that is,
you know--yes, he liked me some," and Katy twisted the fringe of her
shawl, while Morris, in spite of the pain tugging at his heart-strings,
laughed aloud as he rejoined: "I have no doubt he did; but go on--what
next?"

"He said more about my joining that party than anybody, and I am very
sure he paid the bills."

"Oh, Katy," and Morris started as if he had been stung. "I would rather
have given Linwood than have you thus indebted to Wilford Cameron or any
other man."

"I could not well help it. I did not mean any harm," Katy said, timidly,
for at first she had shrunk from the proposition, but Mrs. Woodhull
seemed to think it right, urging it on until she had consented, and so
she said to Morris, explaining how kind Mr. Cameron was, and how careful
not to remind her of her indebtedness to him, attending to and
anticipating every want as if she had been his sister.

"You would like Mr. Cameron, Cousin Morris. He made me think of you a
little, only he is prouder," and Katy's hand moved up Morris' coat
sleeve till it rested on his shoulder.

"Perhaps so," Morris answered, feeling a growing resentment toward one
who, it seemed to him, had done him some great wrong.

But Wilford was not to blame, he reflected. He could not well help
liking the bright little Katy--some; and so, conquering all ungenerous
feelings, he turned to her at last and said:

"Did my little Cousin Kitty like Wilford Cameron?"

Something in Morris' voice startled Katy strangely; her hand came down
from his shoulder, and for an instant there swept over her an emotion
similar to what she had felt when with Wilford Cameron she rambled
along the shores of Lake George, or sat alone with him on the deck of
the steamer which carried them down Lake Champlain. But Morris had
always been her brother, and she did not guess how hard it was for him
to keep from telling her then that she was more to him than a sister.
Had he told her, this story, perhaps, had not been written; but he kept
silence, and so it is ours to record how Katy answered frankly at last:
"I guess I did like him a little. I could not help it, Morris. You could
not, either, or any one. I believe Mrs. Woodhull was more than half in
love with him, and she is an old woman compared with me. By the way,
what did she mean by introducing me to him as the daughter of Judge
Lennox? I meant to have asked her, but forgot it afterward. Was father
ever a judge?"

"Not properly," Morris replied. "He was justice of the peace in
Bloomfield, where you were born, and for one year held the office of
side or associate judge, that's all. Few ever gave him that title, and
I wonder at Mrs. Woodhull. Possibly she fancied Mr. Cameron would think
better of you if he supposed you the daughter of a judge."

"That may be, though I do not believe he would, do you?"

Morris did not say what he thought, but quietly remarked, instead: "I
know those Camerons."

"What! Wilford! You don't know Wilford?" Katy almost screamed, and
Morris replied: "Not Wilford, no; but the mother and the sisters were
last year in Paris, and I met them many times."

"What were they doing in Paris?" Katy asked, and Morris replied that he
believed the immediate object of their being there was to obtain the
best medical advice for a little orphan grandchild, a bright, beautiful
boy, to whom some terrible accident had happened in infancy, preventing
his walking entirely, and making him nearly helpless. His name was
Jamie, Morris said, and as he saw that Katy was interested, he told her
how sweet-tempered the little fellow was, how patient under suffering,
and how eagerly he listened when Morris, who at one time attended him,
told him of the Savior and His love for little children.

"Did he get well?" Katy asked, her eyes filling with tears at the
picture Morris drew of Jamie Cameron, sitting all day long in his wheel
chair, and trying to comfort his grandmother's distress when the
torturing instruments for straightening his poor back were applied.

"No, he will always be a cripple, till God takes him to Himself," Morris
said, and then Katy asked about the mother and sisters--were they proud,
and did he like them much?

"They were very proud," Morris said; "but they were always civil to me,"
and Katy, had she been watching, might have seen a slight flush on his
cheek as he told her of the stately woman, Wilford's mother, of the
haughty Juno, a beauty and a belle, and lastly of Arabella, whom the
family nicknamed Bluebell, from her excessive fondness for books, a
fondness which made her affect a contempt for the fashionable life her
mother and sister led.

It was very evident that neither of the young ladies were wholly to
Morris' taste, but of the two he preferred the Bluebell, for though very
imperious and self-willed, she really had some heart, some principle,
while Juno had none. This was Morris' opinion, and it disturbed the
little Katy, as was very perceptible from the nervous tapping of her
foot upon the carpet and the working of her hands.

"How would I appear by the side of those ladies?" she suddenly asked,
her countenance changing as Morris replied that it was almost impossible
to think of her as associated with the Camerons, she was so wholly
unlike them in every respect.

"I don't believe I shocked Wilford so very much," Katy rejoined,
reproachfully, while again a heavy pain shot through Morris' heart, for
he saw more and more how Wilford Cameron was mingled with every thought
of the young girl, who continued: "And if he was satisfied, I guess his
mother and sisters will be. Anyway, I don't want you to make me feel how
different I am from them."

There were tears now on Katy's face, and casting aside all selfishness,
Morris wound his arm around her, and smoothed her golden hair, just as
he used to do when she was a child and came to him to be soothed. He
said, very gently:

"My poor Kitty, you do like Wilford Cameron; tell me honestly--is it
not so?"

"Yes, I guess I do," and Katy's voice was a half sob. "I could not help
it, either, he was so kind, so--I don't know what, only I could not help
doing what he bade me. Why, if he had said: 'Jump overboard, Katy
Lennox,' I should have done it, I know--that is, if his eyes had been
upon me, they controlled me so absolutely. Can you imagine what I mean?"

"Yes, I understand. There was the same look in Bell Cameron's eye, a
kind of mesmeric influence which commanded obedience. They idolize this
Wilford, and I dare say he is worthy of their idolatry. One thing, at
least, is in his favor--the crippled Jamie, for whose opinion I would
give more than all the rest, seemed to worship his Uncle Will, talking
of him continually, and telling how kind he was, sometimes staying up
all night to carry him in his arms when the pain in his back was more
than usually severe. So there must be a good, kind heart in Wilford
Cameron, and if my Cousin Kitty likes him, as she says she does, and he
likes her as I believe he must, why, I hope--"

Morris Grant could not finish the sentence; for he did not hope that
Wilford Cameron would win the gem he had so long coveted as his own.

He might give Kitty up because she loved another best. He was generous
enough to do that, but if he did it, she must never know how much it
cost him, and lest he should betray himself he could not to-night talk
with her longer of Wilford Cameron, whom he believed to be his rival. It
was time now for Katy to go home, but she did not seem to remember it
until Morris suggested to her that her mother might be uneasy if she
stayed away much longer, and so they went together across the fields,
the shadow all gone from Katy's heart, but lying so dark and heavy
around Morris Grant, who was glad when he could leave Katy at the
farmhouse door and go back alone to the quiet library, where only God
could witness the mighty struggle it was for him to say: "Thy will be
done." And while he prayed, not that Katy should be his, but that he
might have strength to bear it if she were destined for another, Katy,
up in her humble bedroom, with her head nestled close to Helen's neck,
was telling her of Wilford Cameron, who, when they went down the rapids
and she had cried with fear, had put his arm around her, trying to quiet
her, and who once again, on the mountain overlooking Lake George, had
held her hand a moment, while he pointed out a splendid view seen
through the opening trees. And Helen, listening, knew just as Morris
Grant had done that Katy's heart was lost, and that for Wilford Cameron
to deceive her now would be a cruel thing.



CHAPTER III.

WILFORD CAMERON.


The day succeeding Katy Lennox's return to Silverton was rainy and cold
for the season, the storm extending as far westward as the city of New
York, and making Wilford Cameron shiver as he stepped from the Hudson
River cars into the carriage waiting for him, first greeting pleasantly
the white-gloved driver, who, carefully closing the carriage door,
mounted to his seat and drove his handsome bays in the direction of
No. ---- Fifth Avenue. And Wilford, leaning back among the yielding
cushions, thought how pleasant it was to be going home again, feeling
glad, as he frequently did, that the home to which he was going was in
every particular unexceptionable. The Camerons he knew were an old and
highly respectable family, while it was his mother's pride that, go back
as far as one might on either side, there could not be found a single
blemish or a member of whom to be ashamed. On the Cameron side there were
millionaires, merchant princes, bankers and stockholders, professors and
scholars, while on hers, the Rossiter side, there were LL.D.'s and
D.D.'s, lawyers and clergymen, authors and artists, beauties and belles,
the whole forming an illustrious line of ancestry, admirably represented
and sustained by the present family of Camerons, occupying the
brownstone front, corner of ---- Street and Fifth Avenue, where the
handsome carriage stopped and a tall figure ran quickly up the marble
steps. There was a soft rustle of silk, an odor of delicate perfume,
and from the luxurious chair before the fire kindled in the grate an
elderly lady arose and advanced a step or two toward the parlor door. In
another moment she was kissing the young man bending over her and
saluting her as mother, kissing him quietly, properly, as the Camerons
always kissed. She was very glad to have Wilford home again, for he was
her favorite child, and brushing the raindrops from his coat she led him
to the fire, offering him her own easy-chair and starting herself in
quest of another. But Wilford held her back, and making her sit down, he
drew an ottoman beside her and then asked her first how she had been and
then how Jamie was, then where his sisters were, and if his father had
come home--for there was a father, the elder Cameron, a quiet,
unassuming man, who stayed all day in Wall Street, seldom coming home in
time to carve at his own dinner table, and when he was at home, asking
for nothing except to be left by his fashionable wife and daughters to
himself, free to smoke and doze over his evening paper in the seclusion
of his own reading-room.

As Wilford's question concerning his sire had been the last one asked,
so it was the last one answered, his mother parting his dark hair with
her jeweled hand, and telling him first that with the exception of a
cold taken at the park on Saturday afternoon when she drove out to try
the new carriage, she was in usual health; second, that Jamie was very
well, but impatient for his uncle's return; third, that Juno was
spending a few days in Orange, and that Bell had gone to pass the night
with her particular friend, Mrs. Meredith, the bluest, most bookish
woman in New York.

"Your father," the lady added, "has not yet returned, but as the dinner
is ready I think we will not wait."

She touched a silver bell beside her, and ordering dinner to be sent up
at once, went on to ask her son concerning his journey, and the people
he had met. But Wilford, though intending to tell her all, for he kept
nothing from his mother, would wait till after dinner. So, offering her
his arm, he led her out to where the table was spread, widely different
from the table prepared for Katy Lennox away among the Silverton hills,
for where at the farmhouse there had been only the homely wares common
to the country, with Aunt Betsy's onions served in a bowl, there was
here the finest of damask, the choicest of china, the costliest of
cut-glass, and the heaviest of silver, with the well-trained waiter
gliding in and out, himself the very personification of strict table
etiquette, such as the Barlows had never dreamed about. There was no
fricasseed chicken here, or flaky crust, with pickled beans and apple
sauce; no custard pie with strawberries and rich, sweet cream, poured
from a blue earthen pitcher, but there were soups, and fish, and roasted
meats, and dishes with French names and taste, and desert elaborately
gotten up and served with the utmost precision, and wines, with fruit
and colored cloth, and handsome finger bowl; and Mrs. Cameron presiding
over all, with the ladylike decorum so much a part of herself, her soft,
glossy silk of brown, with her rich lace and diamond pin seeming in
keeping with herself and her surroundings. And opposite to her Wilford
sat, a tall, dark, handsome man of thirty or thereabouts--a man whose
polished manners betokened at once a perfect knowledge of the world, and
whose face to a close observer indicated how little satisfaction he had
as yet found in that world. He had tried its pleasures, drinking the cup
of freedom and happiness to its very dregs, and though he thought he
liked it, he often found himself dissatisfied and reaching after
something which should make life more real, more worth the living for.
He had traveled all over Europe twice, had visited every spot worth
visiting in his own country, had been a frequenter of every fashionable
resort in New York, from the skating pond to the theatres, had been
admitted as a lawyer, had opened an office on Broadway, acquiring some
reputation in his profession, had looked at more than twenty girls with
the view of making them his wife, and found them as he believed, alike
fickle, selfish, artificial and hollow-hearted. In short, while thinking
far more of family, and accomplishments, and style, than he ought, he
was yet heartily tired of the butterflies who flitted so constantly
around him, offering to be caught if he would but stretch out his hand
to catch them. This he would not do, and disgusted with the world as he
saw it in New York, he had gone to the Far West, roaming a while amid
the solitude of the broad prairies, and finding there much that was
soothing to him, but not discovering the fulfillment of the great want
he was craving, until, coming back to Canandaigua, he met with Katy
Lennox. He had smiled wearily when asked by Mrs. Woodhull to go with her
to the examination then in progress at the seminary. There was nothing
there to interest him, he thought, as Euclid and algebra, French and
rhetoric were bygone things, while young school misses in braided hair
and pantalets were shockingly insipid. Still, to be polite to Mrs.
Woodhull, a childless, fashionable woman, who patronized Canandaigua
generally, and Katy Lennox in particular, he consented to go, and soon
found himself in the crowded room, the cynosure of many eyes as the
whisper ran around that the fine-looking man with Mrs. Woodhull was the
Wilford Cameron from New York, and brother to the proud, dashing Juno
Cameron, who once spent a few weeks in town, Wilford knew they were
talking about him, but he did not care, and assuming as easy an attitude
as possible, he leaned hack in his chair, yawning indolently, and
wishing the time away, until the class in algebra was called and Katy
Lennox came tripping on to the stage, a pale blue ribbon in her golden
hair and her simple dress of white relieved by no ornament except the
cluster of wild flowers fastened in her belt and at her graceful throat.
But Katy needed no ornaments to make her more beautiful than she was at
the moment when, with glowing cheeks and sparkling eyes, modestly cast
down for a moment as she took her place, and then as modestly uplifted
to her teacher's face, she first burst upon Wilford's vision, a creature
of rare, bewitching beauty, such as he had never dreamed about.

Wilford had met his destiny, and he felt it in every throb of blood
which went rushing through his veins.

"Who is she?" he asked of Mrs. Woodhull, and that lady knew at once whom
he meant, even though he had not designated her.

An old acquaintance of Mrs. Lennox when she lived in East Bloomfield,
Mrs. Woodhull had petted Katy from the first day of her arrival in
Canandaigua with a letter of introduction to herself from the ambitious
mother, and being rather inclined to match-making, she had had Katy in
her mind when she urged Wilford to accompany her to the seminary.
Accordingly, she answered him at once: "That is Katy Lennox, daughter of
Judge Lennox, who died in East Bloomfield a few years ago."

Lennox was a good name, while the title of judge increased its value.
Wilford would not have acknowledged that, perhaps, but it was
nevertheless the truth, and Mrs. Woodhull, who understood exactly the
claim which Mr. Lennox had to the title, knew it was true, and that was
why she spoke as she did. It was time Wilford Cameron was settled in
life, and with the exception of wealth and family position, he could not
find a better wife than Katy Lennox, and she would do what she could to
bring the marriage about.

"Pretty, is she not?" was her question put to Wilford after answering
his inquiry, but Wilford did not hear, having neither eye nor ear for
anything save Kitty, acquitting herself with a good deal of credit as
she worked out a rather difficult problem, her dimpled white hand
showing to good advantage against the deep black of the board; and then
her voice, soft-toned and silvery as a lady's voice should be, thrilled
Wilford's ear, awaking a strange feeling of disquiet, as if the world
would never again be quite the same to him that it was before he met
that fair young girl now passing from the room.

Mrs. Woodhull saw that he was interested, and mentally congratulating
herself upon the successful working of her plan, first gained the
preceptress' consent, and then asked Katy home with her to tea that
night. And this was how Wilford Cameron came to know little Katy Lennox,
the simple-hearted child, who blushed so prettily when first presented
to him, and blushed again when he praised her recitations, but who after
that forgot the difference in their social relations, laughing and
chatting as merrily in his presence as if she had been alone with Mrs.
Woodhull. This was the great charm to Wilford, Katy was so wholly
unconscious of himself or what he might think of her, that he could not
sit in judgment upon her, and he watched her eagerly as she sported, and
flashed, and sparkled, filling the room with sunshine, and putting to
rout the entire regiment of blues which had been for months harassing
the city-bred young man.

If there was any one thing in which Katy excelled, it was music, both
vocal and instrumental, a taste for which had been developed very early,
and fostered by Morris Grant, who had seen that his cousin had every
advantage which Silverton could afford. Great pains, too, had been given
to her style of playing while at Canandaigua, so that as a performer
upon the piano she had few rivals in the seminary, while her bird-like
voice filled every nook and corner of the room, where, on the night
after her visit to Mrs. Woodhull, a select exhibition was held, Katy
shining as the one bright star, and winning golden laurels for beauty,
grace and perfect self-possession from others than Wilford Cameron, who
was one of the invited auditors.

"Juno herself could not equal that," he thought, as Katy's fingers flew
over the keys, executing a brilliant and difficult piece without a
single mistake, and receiving the applause of the spectators easily,
naturally, as if it were an everyday occurrence. But when by request she
sang "Comin' through the Rye," Wilford's heart, if he had any before,
was wholly gone, and he dreamed of Katy Lennox that night, wondering
all the ensuing day how his haughty mother would receive that young
schoolgirl as her daughter, wife of the son whose bride she fancied must
be equal to the first lady in the land. And if Katy were not now equal
she could be made so, Wilford thought, wondering if Canandaigua were the
best place for her, and if she would consent to receive a year or two
years' tuition from him, provided her family were poor. He did not know
as they were, but he would ask, and he did, feeling a pang of regret
when he heard to some extent how Katy was circumstanced. Mrs. Woodhull
had never been to Silverton, and so she did not know of Uncle Ephraim,
with his old-fashioned spouse and his older-fashioned sister, but she
knew that they were poor--that some relation sent Katy to school; and
she frankly told Wilford so, adding, as she detected the shadow on his
face, that one could not expect everything, and that a girl like Katy
was not found every day. Wilford admitted all this, growing more and
more infatuated, until at last he consented to join the traveling
party, provided Katy joined it too, and when on the morning of their
departure for the Falls he seated himself beside her in the car, he
could not well have been happier, unless she had really been his wife,
as he so much wished she was.

It was a most delightful trip, and Wilford was better satisfied with
himself than he had been before in years. His past life was not all free
from error, and there were many sad memories haunting him, but with Katy
at his side, seeing what he saw, admiring what he admired, and doing
what he bade her do, he gave the bygones to the wind, feeling only an
intense desire to clasp the young girl in his arms and bear her away to
some spot where with her pure fresh life all his own he could begin the
world anew, and retrieve the past which he had lost. This was when he
was with Katy. Away from her he could remember the difference in their
position, and prudential motives began to make themselves heard. Never
but once had he taken an important step without consulting his mother,
and then, alas! the trouble it brought him was not ended yet, and never
would be ended until death had set its seal upon the brow of one almost
as dear as Katy, though in a far different way. And this was why Katy
came back to Silverton unengaged, leaving her heart with Wilford
Cameron, who would first seek advice from his mother ere committing
himself by word. He had seen the white-haired man with his coarse, linen
coat and coarser pants, waiting eagerly for her when the train stopped
at Silverton, but standing there as he did, with his silvery locks
parted in the center, and shading his honest, open face, Uncle Ephraim
looked like some patriarch of old rather than a man to be despised, and
Wilford felt only a respect for him until he saw Katy's arms wound so
lovingly around his neck as she kissed and called him Uncle Eph. That
sight grated harshly, and Wilford, knowing this was the uncle of whom
Katy had often spoken, felt glad that he was not bound to her by any
pledge. Very curiously he looked after the couple, witnessing the
meeting between Katy and old Whitey, and guessing rightly that the
corn-colored vehicle was the one sent to transport Katy home. He was
very moody for the remainder of the route between Silverton and Albany,
where he parted with his Canandaigua friends, they going on to the
westward, while he stopped all night in Albany, where he had some
business to transact for his father. And this was why he did not reach
New York until late in the afternoon of the following day.

He was intending to tell his mother everything, except indeed that he
paid Katy's bills. He would rather keep that to himself, as it might
shock his mother's sense of propriety and make her think less of Katy,
impulsive, confiding Katy, little dreaming as on that rainy afternoon
she sat in the kitchen at Silverton, with her feet in the stove-oven and
the cat asleep in her lap, of the conversation taking place between
Wilford Cameron and his mother. They had left the dinner table, and
lighting his cigar, which for that one time the mother permitted in the
parlor, Wilford opened the subject by asking her to guess what took him
off so suddenly with Mrs. Woodhull.

The mother did not know--unless--and a strange light gleamed in her
eyes, as she asked if it were some girl.

"Yea, mother, it was," and without any reservation Wilford frankly told
the story of his interest in Katy Lennox.

He admitted that she was poor and unaccustomed to society, but he loved
her more than words could express.

"Not as I loved Genevra," he said, as he saw his mother about to speak,
and there came a look of intense pain into his fine eyes as he
continued: "That was the passion of a boy of nineteen, simulated by
secrecy, but this is different--this is the love of a mature man of
thirty, who feels that he is capable of judging for himself."

In Wilford's voice there was a tone warning the mother that opposition
would only feed the flame, and so she offered none directly, but heard
him patiently to the end, and then quietly questioned him of Katy and
her family, especially the last. What did he know of it? Was it one to
detract from the Cameron line kept untarnished so long? Were the
relatives such as he never need blush to own, even if they came there
into their drawing-room, as they would come if Katy did?

Wilford thought of Uncle Ephraim as he had seen him upon the platform at
Silverton, and could scarcely repress a smile as he pictured to himself
his mother's consternation at beholding that man in her drawing-room,
but he did not mention the deacon, though he acknowledged that Katy's
family friends were not exactly the Cameron style. But Katy was young;
Katy could be easily molded, and once away from her old associates, his
mother and sisters could make of her what they pleased.

"I understand, then, that if you marry her you do not marry the family,"
and in the handsome, matronly face there was an expression from which
Katy would have shrunk; could she have seen it and understood its
meaning.

"No, I do not marry the family," Wilford rejoined, emphatically, but the
expression of his face was different from his mother's, for where she
thought only of herself, not hesitating to trample on all Katy's love of
home and friends, Wilford remembered Katy, thinking how he would make
amends for separating her wholly from her home, as he surely meant to do
if he should win her. "Did I tell you," he continued, "that her father
was a judge? She must be well connected on that side, though I never
heard of a Judge Lennox in any of our courts."

"It must have been when you were in Europe the first time," Mrs. Cameron
suggested, and as if the mention of Europe reminded him of something
else, Wilford rejoined: "Katy would be kind to Jamie, mother. In some
things she is almost as much a child as he, poor fellow," and again
there came into his eyes a look of pain, while his voice was sadder in
its tone, just as it always was when he spoke of little Jamie. "And now,
what shall I do?" he asked, playfully. "Shall I propose to Katy Lennox,
or shall I try to forget her?"

"I should not do either," was Mrs. Cameron's reply for she well knew
that trying to forget her was the surest way of keeping her in mind, and
she dared not confess to him how wholly she was determined that Katy
Lennox should never be her daughter if she could prevent it.

If she could not, then as a lady and a woman of policy, she should make
the most of it, receiving Katy kindly and doing her best to educate her
up to the Cameron ideas of style and manner.

"Let matters take their course for a while," she said, "and see how you
feel after a little. We are going to Newport the first of August, Jamie
and all, and perhaps you may find somebody there infinitely superior to
this Katy Lennox. That's your father's ring. He is earlier than usual
to-night. I would not tell him yet till you are more decided," and the
lady went hastily out into the hall to meet her husband.

A moment more and the elder Cameron appeared--a short, square-built man,
with a face seamed with lines of care and eyes much like Wilford's, save
that the shaggy eyebrows gave them a different expression. He was very
glad to see his son, though he merely shook his hand, asking what
nonsense took him off around the Lakes with Mrs. Woodhull, and wondering
if women were never happy unless they were chasing after fashion. The
elder Cameron was evidently not of his wife's way of thinking, but she
let him go on until he was through, and then, with the most unruffled
mien, suggested that his dinner would he cold. He was accustomed to
that, and so he did not mind, but he hurried through his lonely meal
to-night, for Wilford was home, and the father was always happier when
he knew his son was in the house. Contrary to his usual custom, he spent
the short summer evening in the parlor, talking with Wilford on various
items of business, and thus preventing any further conversation
concerning Katy Lennox, who just as their evening was commencing, was
bowing the knee reverently between her sister and her uncle, listening
while the good old man invoked the nightly blessing, without which he
never retired to sleep. But in that household on Fifth Avenue there was
no blessing asked of Heaven, no word of thanksgiving for the prosperity
so long vouchsafed, no prayer said except by the crippled Jamie, who,
remembering the Savior of whom Morris Grant had told him when across the
sea, whispered his childish prayer, thanking him most for bringing back
the uncle so dearly loved, the Wilford who, on his way to his own room,
had stopped as he always did to say good-night to Jamie, folding his
arms around him and kissing his sweet face with a fondness in which
there was something half regretful, half sad, as well as pleasing.

It took but a short time for Wilford to fall back into his old way of
living, passing a few hours of each day in his office, driving with his
mother, reading to little Jamie, sparring with his imperious sister,
Juno, and teasing his blue sister, Bell, but never after that first
night breathing a word to any one of Katy Lennox. And still Katy was not
forgotten, as his mother sometimes believed. On the contrary, the very
silence he kept concerning her increased his passion, until he began
seriously to contemplate a trip to Silverton. The family's removal to
Newport, however, diverted his attention for a little, making him decide
to wait and see what Newport might have in store for him. But Newport
was dull this season, at least to him, though Juno and Bell both found
ample scope for their different powers of attraction, and his mother was
always happy when showing off her children and knowing that they were
appreciated. With Wilford it was different. Listless and taciturn, he
went through with the daily routine, wondering how he had ever found
happiness there, and finally, at the close of the season, casting all
policy and prudence aside, he wrote to Katy Lennox that he was coming
to Silverton on his way home, and that he presumed he should have no
difficulty in finding his way to the farmhouse.



CHAPTER IV.

PREPARING FOR THE VISIT.


"Of course he will not, for I shall ask Dr. Morris to go after him in
his carriage," Katy said, as out in the orchard where she was gathering
the early harvest apples she read the letter brought her by Uncle
Ephraim, her face crimsoning all over with happy blushes as she saw
the dear affixed to her name.

Katy had waited so anxiously for a letter, or some message which should
say that she was not forgotten by Wilford Cameron, but as the weeks went
by and it did not come, a shadow had fallen upon her spirits, and the
family missed something from her ringing laugh and frolicsome ways,
while she herself wondered why the household duties given to her should
be so utterly distasteful. She used to enjoy them so much, but now she
liked nothing except to go with Uncle Ephraim out into the fields where
she could sit alone while he worked nearby, or to ride with Morris as
she sometimes did when he made his round of calls. She was not as good
as she used to be, she thought, and with a view of making herself better
she took to teaching in Morris' and Helen's Sunday-school, greatly to
the distress of Aunt Betsy, who groaned bitterly when both her nieces
adopted the "Episcopal quirks," forsaking entirely the house where
Sunday after Sunday her old-fashioned leghorn with its faded ribbon of
green was seen, bending down in the humble worship which God so much
approves. But teaching in Sunday-school, taken by itself, could not make
Katy better, and the old restlessness remained until the morning when,
sitting on the grass beneath the apple tree, she read that Wilford
Cameron was coming. Then, as by magic, everything was changed, and Katy
never forgot the brightness of that day when the robins sang so merrily
above her head and all nature seemed to sympathize with her joy.
Afterward there came to her dark, wretched hours, when in her young
heart's agony she wished that day had never been, but there was no
shadow around her now, nothing but hopeful sunshine, and with a bounding
step she sought out Helen, to tell her the good news. Helen's first
remark, however, was a chill upon her spirits.

"Wilford Cameron coming here? What will he think of us, we are so unlike
him?"

This was the first time Katy had seriously considered the difference
between her surroundings and those of Wilford Cameron, or how it might
affect him. But Aunt Betsy, who had never dreamed of anything like
Wilford's home, and who thought her own quite as good as they would
average, comforted her, telling her how "if he was any kind of a chap he
wouldn't be looking round, and if he did, who cared; she guessed they
was as good as he, and as much thought of by the neighbors."

Wilford's letter had been delayed so that the morrow was the day
appointed for his coming, and never sure was there a busier afternoon
at the farmhouse than the one which followed the receipt of the letter.
Everything that was not spotlessly clean before was made so now. Aunt
Betsy in her petticoat and short gown going down upon her knees to scrub
the door sill of the back room, as if the city guest were expected to
sit in there. On Aunt Hannah and Mrs. Lennox devolved the duty of
preparing for the wants of the inner man, while Helen and Katy bent
their energies to beautifying their humble home and making the most of
their plain furniture.

"If Uncle Ephraim had only let me move the chimney, we could have had
a nice spare sleeping-room instead of this little tucked up hole," Mrs.
Lennox said, coming in with her hands covered with flour, and casting a
rueful look at the small room kept for company, and where Wilford was to
sleep.

It was not very spacious, being only large enough to admit the high post
bed, a single chair, and the old-fashioned washstand with the hole in
the top for the bowl and a drawer beneath for towels, the whole
presenting a most striking contrast to those handsome chambers on Fifth
Avenue, or, indeed, to the one at the Ocean House where Wilford sat
smoking and wishing the time away, while Helen and Katy held a
consultation as to whether it would not be better to dispense with the
parlor altogether and give that room to their visitor. But this was
vetoed by Aunt Betsy, who, having finished the back door sill, had now
come around to the front, and, with her scrubbing brush in one hand and
her saucer of sand in the other, held forth upon the foolishness of the
girls.

"Of course if they had a beau, they'd want a t'other room, else where
would they do their sparkin'."

That settled it. The parlor should remain as it was, Katy said, and Aunt
Betsy went on with her scouring, while Helen and Katy consulted together
how to make the huge feather bed seem more like the mattresses such as
Morris had, and such as Mr. Cameron must be accustomed to. Helen's mind
being the most suggestive solved the problem first, and a large
comfortable was brought from the box in the garret and folded carefully
over the bed, which, thus hardened and flattened, "seemed like a
mattress," Katy said, for she tried it, pronouncing it good, and feeling
quite well satisfied with the room when it was finished. And certainly
it was not wholly uninviting with its snowy bed, whose covering almost
swept the floor, its strip of bright carpeting in front, its vase of
flowers upon the stand and its white fringed curtain sweeping back from
the narrow window.

"I'd like to sleep here myself. It looks real nice," was Katy's comment,
while Helen offered no opinion, but followed her sister into the yard
where they were to sweep the grass and prune the early September
flowers.

This afforded Aunt Betsy a chance to reconnoiter and criticise, which
last she did unsparingly.

"What have they done to that bed to make it look so flat? Put on a
bed-quilt, as I'm alive! What children! It would break my back to lie
there, and this Cannon is none the youngest, accordin' to their
tell--nigh on to thirty, if not turned. It will make his bones ache, of
course. I am glad I know better than to treat visitors that way. The
comforter may stay, but I'll be bound I'll make it softer!" and stealing
up the stairs, Aunt Betsy brought down a second feather bed, much
lighter than the one already on, but still large enough to suggest the
thought of smothering. This she had made herself, intending it as a part
of Katy's "setting out," should she ever marry, and as things now seemed
tending that way, it was only right, she thought, that Mr. Cannon, as
she called him, should begin to have the benefit of it. Accordingly, the
handiwork of the girls was destroyed, and two beds, instead of one, were
placed beneath the comfortable, which Aunt Betsy permitted to remain.

"I'm mighty feared they'll find me out," she said, stroking, and
patting, and coaxing the beds to lie down, taking great pains in the
making, and succeeding so well that when her task was done there was no
perceptible difference between Helen's bed and hers, except that the
latter was a few inches higher than the former, and more nearly
resembled a pincushion in shape.

Carefully shutting the door, Aunt Betsy hurried away, feeling glad that
her nieces were too much engaged in training a vine over a frame to
afford them time for discovering what she had done. Katy, she knew, was
going to Linwood by and by, after various little things which Mrs.
Lennox thought indispensable to the entertaining of so great a man as
Wilford Cameron, and which the farmhouse did not possess, and as Helen
too would be busy, there was not much danger of detection.

It was late when the last thing was accomplished, and the sun was quite
low ere Katy was free to start on her errand, carrying the market basket
in which she was to put the articles borrowed of Morris.

He was sitting out on his piazza enjoying the fine prospect he had of
the sun shining across the pond, on the Silverton hill, and just gilding
the top of the little church nestled in the valley. At sight of Katy he
arose and greeted her with the kind, brotherly manner now habitual with
him, for since we last looked upon Morris Grant he had fought a fierce
battle with his selfishness, coming off conqueror, and learning to
listen quite calmly while Katy talked to him, as she often did, of
Wilford Cameron, never trying to conceal from him how anxious she was
for some word of remembrance, and often asking if he thought Mr. Cameron
would ever write to her. It was hard at first for Morris to listen, and
harder still to hold back the passionate words of love trembling on his
lips, to keep himself from telling her how improbable it was that one
like Mr. Cameron should cherish thoughts of her after mingling again
with the high-born city belles, and to beg of her to take him in
Cameron's stead--him who had loved her so long, ever since he first knew
what it was to love, and who would cherish her so tenderly, loving her
the more because of the childishness which some men might despise. But
Morris had kept silence, and, as weeks went by, there came insensibly
into his heart a hope, or rather conviction, that Cameron had forgotten
the little girl who might in time turn to him, gladdening his home just
as she did every spot where her fairy footsteps trod. Morris did not
fully know that he was hugging this fond dream, until he felt the keen
pang which cut like a dissector's knife as Katy, turning her bright,
eager face up to him, whispered softly: "He's coming to-morrow--he
surely is; I have his letter to tell me so."

Morris did not see the sunshine then upon the distant hills, although it
lay there just as purple as before Katy came, bringing blackness and
pain when heretofore she had only brought him joy and gladness. There
was a moment of darkness, in which the hills, the pond, the sun
setting, and Katy seemed a great ways off to Morris, trying so hard to
be calm, and mentally asking for help to do so. But Katy's hat, which
she swung in her hand, had become entangled in the vines encircling one
of the pillars of the piazza, and so she did not notice him until all
traces of his agitation were past, and he could talk with her concerning
Wilford, and then playfully lifting her basket he asked what she had
come to get.

This was not the first time the great house had rendered a like service
to the little house, and so Katy did not blush when she explained how
her mother wanted Morris' forks, and saltcellars, and spoons, and would
he be kind enough to bring the castor over himself, and come to dinner
to-morrow at two o'clock?--and would he go after Mr. Cameron? The forks,
and saltcellars, and spoons, and castor were cheerfully promised, while
Morris consented to go for the guest; and then Katy came to the rest of
her errand, the part distasteful to her, inasmuch as it might look like
throwing disrespect upon Uncle Ephraim--honest, unsophisticated Uncle
Ephraim--who would come to the table in his shirt sleeves. This was the
burden of her grief--the one thing she dreaded most, inasmuch as she
knew by experience how such an act was looked upon by Mr. Cameron, who,
never having lived in the country a day in his life, except as he was
either guest or traveler, could not make due allowance for these little
departures from refinement, so obnoxious to people of his training.

"What is it, Katy?" Morris asked, as he saw how she hesitated, and
guessed her errand was not done.

"I hope you will not think me foolish or wicked," Katy began, her eyes
filling with tears, as she felt that she might be doing Uncle Ephraim
a wrong by even admitting that in any way he could be improved. "I
certainly love Uncle Ephraim dearly, and I do not mind his ways, but Mr.
Cameron may--that is, oh, Cousin Morris! did you ever notice how Uncle
Ephraim will persist in coming to the table in his shirt sleeves."

"Persist is hardly the word to use," Morris replied, smiling comically,
as he readily understood Katy's misgivings. "Persist would imply his
having been often remonstrated with for that breach of etiquette;
whereas I doubt much whether the idea that it was not in strict
accordance with politeness was ever suggested to him."

"Maybe not," Katy answered. "It was never necessary till now, and I feel
so disturbed, for I want Mr. Cameron to like him, and if he does that I
am sure he won't."

"Why do you think so?" Morris asked, and Katy replied: "He is so
particular, and was so very angry at a little hotel between Lakes
George and Champlain, where we took our dinner before going on the
boat. There was a man along--a real good-natured man, too, so kind to
everybody--and, as the day was warm, he carried his coat on his arm, and
sat down to the table that way, right opposite me. Mr. Cameron was so
indignant, and said such harsh things, which the man heard, I am sure,
for he put on his coat directly; and I saw him afterward on the boat,
sweating like rain, and looking sorry as if he had done something wrong.
I am sure, though, he had not?"

This last was spoken interrogatively, and Morris replied: "There is
nothing wrong or wicked in going without one's coat. Everything depends
upon the circumstances under which it is done. For me to appear at table
in my shirt sleeves would be very impolite; but for an old man like
Uncle Ephraim, who has done it all his life and who never gave it a
thought, would, in my estimation, be a very different thing. Still, Mr.
Cameron may see from another standpoint. But I would not distress
myself. That love is not worth much which would think the less of you
for anything _outré_ which Uncle Ephraim may do. If Mr. Cameron cannot
stand the test of seeing your relatives as they are, he is not worth the
long face you are wearing," and Morris pinched her cheek playfully.

"Yes, I know," Katy replied; "but if you only could manage Uncle Eph I
should be so glad."

Morris had little hope of breaking a habit of years, but he promised to
try if an opportunity should occur, and as Mrs. Hull, the housekeeper,
had by this time gathered up the articles required for the morrow,
Morris himself took the basket in his own hands and went back with Katy
across the fields, which had never seemed so desolate as to-night, when
he felt how vain were all the hopes he had been cherishing.

"God bless you, Katy, and may Mr. Cameron's visit bring you as much
happiness as you anticipate," he said as he set her basket upon the
doorstep and turned back without entering the house.

Katy noticed the peculiar tone of his voice, and again there swept over
her the same thrill she had felt when Morris first said to her, "And did
Katy like this Mr. Cameron?" but so far was she from guessing the truth
that she only feared she might have displeased him by what she had said
of Uncle Ephraim; and as an unkind word breathed against a dear friend,
even to a mutual friend, always leaves a scar, so Katy, though saying
nothing ill, still felt that in some way she had wronged her uncle; and
the good old man, resting from his hard day's toil, in his accustomed
chair, with not only his coat, but his vest and boots cast aside, little
guessed what prompted the caresses which Katy bestowed upon him, sitting
in his lap and parting lovingly his snowy hair, as if thus she would
make amends for any injury done. Little Katy-did he called her, looking
fondly into her bright, pretty face, and thinking how terrible it would
be to see that face shadowed with pain and care. Somehow, of late, Uncle
Ephraim was always thinking of such a calamity as more than possible for
Katy, and when that night she knelt beside him, his voice was full of
pleading earnestness as he prayed that God would keep them all in
safety, and bring to none of them more grief, more suffering, than was
necessary to purify them for His own. "Purified by suffering" came
involuntarily into Katy's mind as she listened, and then remembered the
talk down in the meadow, when she sat on the rock beneath the butternut
tree. But Katy was far too thoughtless yet for anything serious to abide
with her long; and the world, while it held Wilford Cameron as he seemed
to her now, was too full of joy for her to be sad, and so she arose from
her knees, thinking only how long it would be before to-morrow noon,
wondering if Wilford would surely be there next time their evening
prayers were said, and if he would notice Uncle Ephraim's shocking
grammar!



CHAPTER V.

WILFORD'S VISIT.


Much surprise was expressed by all the Cameron family, save the mother,
when told that instead of accompanying them to New York, Wilford would
take another route, and one directly out of his way; while, what was
stranger than all, he did not know when he should be home; it would
depend upon circumstances, he said, evincing so much annoyance at being
questioned with regard to his movements, that the quick-witted Juno
readily divined that there was some girl in the matter, teasing him
unmercifully to tell her who she was, and what the fair one was like.

"Don't, for pity's sake, bring us a verdant specimen," she said, as she
at last bade him good-by, and turned her attention to Mark Ray, her
brother's partner, who had been with them at Newport, and whom she was
bending all her energies to captivate.

With his sister's bantering words ringing in his ears, Wilford kept on
his way until the last change was made, and when he stopped again it
would be at Silverton. He did not expect any one to meet him, but as he
remembered the man whom he had seen greeting Katy, he thought it not
unlikely that he might be there now, laughing to himself as he pictured
Juno's horror, could she see him driving along in the corn-colored
vehicle which Uncle Ephraim drove. But that vehicle was safe at home
beneath the shed, while Uncle Ephraim was laying a stone wall upon the
huckleberry hill, and the handsome carriage waiting at Silverton depot
was certainly unexceptionable; while in the young man who, as the train
stopped and Wilford stepped out upon the platform, came to meet him,
bowing politely, and asking if he were Mr. Cameron, Wilford recognized
the true gentleman, and his spirits arose as Morris said to him: "I am
Miss Lennox's cousin, deputed by her to meet and take charge of you for
a time."

Wilford had heard of Dr. Morris Grant, for his name was often on
Jamie's lips, while his proud Sister Juno, he suspected, had tried her
powers of fascination in vain upon the grave American, met in the
saloons of Paris; but he had no suspicion that his new acquaintance
was the one until they were driving toward the farmhouse and Morris
mentioned having met his family in France, inquiring after them all, and
especially for Jamie. Involuntarily then Wilford grasped again the hand
of Morris Grant, exclaiming: "And are you the doctor who was so kind to
Jamie? I did not expect this pleasure?"

After that the ride seemed very short, and Wilford was surprised when as
they turned a corner in the sandy road, Morris pointed to the farmhouse,
saying: "We are almost there--that is the place."

"That!" and Wilford's voice indicated his disappointment, for in all his
mental pictures of Katy Lennox's home he had never imagined anything
like this:

Large, rambling and weird-like, with something lofty and imposing, just
because it was so ancient, was the house he had in his mind, and he
could not conceal his chagrin as his eye took in the small, low
building, with its high windows and tiny panes of glass, paintless and
blindless, standing there alone among the hills, Morris understood it
perfectly; but, without seeming to notice it, remarked: "It is the
oldest house probably in the country, and should be invaluable on that
account. I think we Americans are too fond of change and too much
inclined to throw aside all that reminds us of the past. Now I like
the farmhouse just because it is old and unpretentious."

"Yes, certainly," Wilford answered, looking ruefully around him at the
old stone wall, half tumbled down, the tall well-sweep, and the patch of
sunflowers in the garden, with Aunt Betsy bending behind them, picking
tomatoes for dinner, and shading her eyes with her hand to look at him
as he drove up.

It was all very rural, no doubt, and very charming to people who liked
it, but Wilford did not like it, and he was wishing himself safely in
New York when a golden head flashed for an instant before the window and
then disappeared as Katy emerged into view, waiting at the door to
receive him and looking so sweetly in her dress of white with the
scarlet geranium blossoms in her hair, that Wilford forgot the
homeliness of her surroundings, thinking only of her and how soft and
warm was the little hand he held as she led him into the parlor. He did
not know she was so beautiful, he said to himself, and he feasted his
eyes upon her, forgetful for a time of all else. But afterward when
Katy left him for a moment he noticed the well-worn carpet, the six
cane-seated chairs, the large stuffed rocking chair, the fall-leaf
table, with its plain wool spread, and, lastly, the really expensive
piano, the only handsome piece of furniture the room contained, and
which he rightly guessed must have come from Morris.

"What would Juno or Mark say?" he kept repeating to himself, half
shuddering as he recalled the bantering proposition to accompany him
made by Mark Ray, the only young man whom he considered fully his equal
in New York.

Wilford knew these feelings were unworthy of him and he tried to shake
them off, listlessly turning over the books upon the table, books which
betokened in some one both taste and talent of no low order.

"Mark's favorite," he said, lifting up a volume of Schiller, and turning
to the fly-leaf he read, "Helen Lennox, from Cousin Morris," just as
Katy returned and with her Helen, whom she presented to the stranger.

Helen was prepared to like him just because Katy did, and her first
thought was that he was splendid-looking, but when she met fully his
cold glance and knew how closely he was scrutinizing her, there arose
in her heart a feeling of dislike for Wilford Cameron, which she could
never wholly conquer. He was very polite to her, but something in his
manner annoyed and provoked her, it was so cool, so condescending, as
if he endured her merely because she was Katy's sister, nothing more.

"Rather pretty, more character than Katy, but odd, and self-willed, with
no kind of style."

This was Wilford's running comment on Helen as he took her in from the
plain arrangement of her dark hair to the fit of her French calico and
the cut of her linen Collar.

Fashionable dress would improve her very much, he thought, turning from
her with a feeling of relief to Katy, whom nothing could disfigure, and
who was now watching the door eagerly for the entrance of her mother.
That lady had spent a good deal of time at her toilet, and she came in
at last, flurried, fidgety, and very red, both from exercise and the
bright-hued ribbons streaming from her cap and sadly at variance with
the color of her dress. Wilford noticed the discrepancy at once, and
noticed too how little style there was about the nervous woman greeting
him so deferentially and evidently regarding him as something infinitely
superior to herself. Wilford had looked with indifference upon Helen,
but it would take a stronger word to express his opinion of the mother.
Had he come accidentally upon her without ever having met with Katy, he
would have regarded her as a plain, common country woman, who meant well
if nothing more; but now, alas! with Katy in the foreground, he was
weighing her in a far different balance and finding her sadly wanting.
He had not seen Aunt Hannah, nor yet Aunt Betsy, for they were in the
kitchen, making the last preparations for the dinner to which Morris was
to remain. He was in the parlor now and in his presence Wilford felt
more at ease, more as if he had found an affinity. Uncle Ephraim was not
there, having eaten his bowl of milk and gone back to his stone wall, so
that upon Morris devolved the duties of host, and he courteously led the
way to the little dining-room, which Wilford confessed was not
uninviting, with its clean floor and walls, and the table so loaded with
the good things Aunt Hannah had prepared, burning and browning her
wrinkled face, which nevertheless smiled pleasantly upon the stranger
presented as Mr. Cameron.

About Aunt Hannah there was something naturally ladylike, and Wilford
saw it; but when it came to Aunt Betsy, of whom he had never heard, he
felt for a moment as if by being there in such promiscuous company he
had somehow fallen from the Cameron's high estate. By way of pleasing
the girls and doing honor to their "beau," as she called Wilford, Aunt
Betsy had donned her very best attire, wearing the slate-colored pongee
dress, bought twenty years before, and actually sporting a set of
Helen's cast off hoops, which being quite too large for the dimensions
of her scanty skirt, gave her anything but the stylish appearance she
intended.

"Oh, auntie!" was Katy's involuntary exclamation, while Helen bit her
lip with vexation, for the hoop had been an after thought to Aunt Betsy
just before going in to dinner.

But the good old lady never dreamed of shocking any one with her
attempts at fashion; and curtseying very low to Mr. Cameron, she hoped
for a better acquaintance, and then took her seat at the table, just
where each movement could be distinctly seen by Wilford, scanning her so
intently as scarcely to hear the reverent words with which Morris asked
a blessing upon themselves and the food so abundantly prepared. They
could hardly have gotten through that first dinner without Morris, who
adroitly tried to divert Wilford's mind from what was passing around
him. But with all his vigilance he could not prevent his hearing Aunt
Betsy as, in an aside to Helen, she denounced the heavy fork she was
awkwardly trying to use, first expressing her surprise at finding it by
her plate instead of the smaller one to which she was accustomed.

"The land! if you didn't borry Morris' forks! I'd as soon eat with the
toastin' iron," she said, in a tone of distress, but Helen's foot
touching hers warned her to keep silence, which she did after that, and
the dinner proceeded quietly, Wilford discovering ere its close that
Mrs. Lennox, now that she was more composed, had really some pretensions
to a lady, while Helen's dress and collar ceased to be obnoxious, as he
watched the play of her fine features and saw her eyes kindle as she
took a modest part in the conversation when it turned on books and
literature.

Meanwhile Katy kept very still, her cheeks flushing and her eyes cast
down whenever she met Wilford's gaze; but when, after dinner was over
and Morris had gone, she went with him down to the shore of the pond,
her tongue was loosed, and Wilford found again the little fairy who had
so bewitched him a few weeks before. And yet there was a load upon his
mind--a shadow made by the actual knowledge that between Katy's family
and his there was a gulf which never could be crossed by either party.
He might bear Katy over, it was true, but would she not look longingly
back to the humble home, and might he not sometimes be greatly chagrined
by the sudden appearing of some one of this old-bred family who did not
seem to realize how ignorant they were, how far below him in the social
scale? Poor Wilford! he winced and shivered when he thought of Aunt
Betsy, in her antiquated pongee, and remembered that she was a near
relative of the little maiden sporting so playfully around him, stealing
his heart away in spite of family pride, and making him more deeply in
love than ever. It was very pleasant down by the pond, and Wilford, who
liked staying there better than at the house, kept Katy with him until
the sun was going down and they heard in the distance the tinkle of a
bell as the deacon's cows plodded slowly homeward. Supper was waiting
for them, and with his appetite sharpened by his walk, Wilford found no
cause of complaint against Aunt Hannah's viands, though he smiled
mentally as he accepted the piece of apple pie Aunt Betsy offered him,
saying by way of recommendation that "she made the crust but Catherine
peeled and sliced the apples."

The deacon had not returned from his work, and so Wilford did not see
him until he came suddenly upon him, seated in the woodshed door,
washing his feet after the labor of the day. Ephraim Barlow was a man to
command respect, and to a certain extent Wilford recognized the true
worth embodied in that unpolished exterior. He did not, however, see
much of him that night, for, as the deacon said, apologetically: "The
cows is to milk and the chores all to do, for I never keep no boy," and
when at last the chores were done the clock pointed to half-past eight,
the hour for family worship. Unaccustomed as Wilford was to such things,
he felt the influence of the deacon's voice as he read from the Word of
God, and involuntarily found himself kneeling when Katy knelt, noticing
the deacon's grammar, it is true, but still listening patiently to the
rather lengthy prayer which included him as well as the rest of mankind.

There was no chance of seeing Katy alone, and so full two hours before
his usual custom Wilford retired to the little room to which the deacon
conducted him, saying as he put down the lamp: "You'll find it pretty
snug quarters, I guess, for such a close, muggy night as this, but if
you can't stand it you must lie on the floor."

And truly they were snug quarters, Wilford thought; but there was no
alternative, and a few moments found him in the center of two feather
beds, neither Helen nor Katy having discovered the addition made by Aunt
Betsy, and which came near being the death of the New York guest, who,
wholly unaccustomed to feathers, was almost smothered in them, besides
being nearly melted. To sleep was impossible, as the September night
was hot and sultry, and never for a moment did Wilford lose his
consciousness or forget to accuse himself of being an idiot for coming
into that heathenish neighborhood after a wife when at home there were
so many girls ready and waiting for him.

"I'll go back to-morrow morning," he said, and, striking a match, he
read in his Railway Guide when the first train passed Silverton, feeling
comforted to think that only a few hours intervened between him and
freedom.

But alas! for Wilford. He was but a man, subject to man's caprices, and
when next morning he met Katy Lennox, looking in her light muslin as
pure and fair as the white blossoms twined in her wavy hair, his
resolution began to waver. Perhaps there was a decent hotel in
Silverton; he would inquire of Dr. Grant; at all events he would not
take the first train as he had intended doing; and so he stayed, eating
fried apples and beefsteak, but forgetting to criticise, in his
appreciation of the rich thick cream poured into his coffee, and the
sweet, golden butter, which melted in soft waves upon the flakey rolls.
Again Uncle Ephraim was absent, having gone to the mill before Wilford
left his room, nor was he visible to the young man until after dinner,
for Wilford did not go home, but drove instead with Katy in the carriage
which Morris sent around, excusing himself from coming on the plea of
being too busy, but saying he would join them at tea, if possible.
Wilford's mind was not yet fully made up, so he concluded to remain
another day and see more of Katy's family. Accordingly, after dinner, he
bent his energies to read them all, from Helen down to Aunt Betsy, the
latter of whom proved the most transparent of the four. Arrayed again
in the pongee, but this time without the hoop, she came into the parlor,
bringing her calico patchwork, which she informed him was pieced in the
"herrin' bone pattern" and intended for Katy; telling him, further, that
the feather bed on which he slept was also a part of "Catherine's
setting out," and was made from feathers she picked herself, showing him
as proof a mark upon her arm, left there by the gray goose, which had
proved a little refractory when she tried to draw a stocking over its
head.

Wilford groaned, and Katy's chance for being Mrs. Cameron was growing
constantly less and less as he saw more and more how vast was the
difference between the Barlows and himself. Helen, he acknowledged, was
passable, though she was not one whom he could ever introduce into New
York society; and he was wondering how Katy came to be so unlike the
rest, when Uncle Ephraim came up from the meadow, and announced himself
as ready now to visit, apologizing for his apparent neglect, and seeming
so absolutely to believe that his company was, of course, desirable,
that Wilford felt amused, wondering again what Juno, or even Mark Ray,
would think of the rough old man, sitting with his chair tipped back
against the wall, and going occasionally to the outside door to relieve
himself of his tobacco juice, for chewing was one of the deacon's
weaknesses. His pants were faultlessly clean, and his vest was buttoned
nearly up to his throat, but his coat was hanging on a nail out by the
kitchen door, and, to Katy's distress and Wilford's horror, he sat among
them in his shirt sleeves, all unconscious of harm or of the disquiet
awakened in the bosom of the young man, who on that point was foolishly
fastidious, and who showed by his face how much he was annoyed. Not even
the presence of Morris, who came in about tea time, was of any avail to
lift the cloud from his brow, and he seemed moody and silent until
supper was announced. This was the first opportunity Morris had had of
trying his powers of persuasion upon the deacon, and now, at a hint
from Katy, he said to him in an aside, as they were passing into the
dining-room: "Suppose, Uncle Ephraim, you put on your coat for once. It
is better than coming to the table so."

"Pooh," was Uncle Ephraim's innocent rejoinder, spoken loudly enough
for Wilford to hear, "I don't need it an atom. I shan't catch cold, for
I am used to it; besides that, I never could stand the racket this hot
weather."

In his simplicity he did not even suspect Morris' motive, but imputed it
wholly to his concern lest he should take cold. And so Wilford Cameron
found himself seated next to a man who willfully trampled upon all rules
of etiquette, shocking him in his most sensitive parts, and making him
thoroughly disgusted with the country and country people generally. All
but Morris and Katy--he did make an exception in their favor, leaning
most to Morris, whom he admired more and more as he became better
acquainted with him, wondering how he could content himself to settle
down quietly in Silverton, when he would surety die if compelled to live
there for a week. Something like this he said to Dr. Grant when that
evening they sat together in the handsome parlor at Linwood, for Morris
kindly invited him to spend the night with him:

"I stay at Silverton, first, because I think I can do more good here
than elsewhere, and, secondly, because I really like the country and the
country people, for, strange and uncouth as they may seem to you, who
never lived among them, they have kinder, truer hearts beating beneath
their rough exteriors, than are often found in the city."

This was Morris' reply, and in the conversation which ensued Wilford
Cameron caught glimpses of a nobler, higher phase of manhood than he had
thought existed, feeling an unbounded respect for one who, because he
believed it to be his duty, was, as it seemed to him, wasting his life
among people who could not appreciate his character, though they might
idolize the man. But this did not reconcile Wilford one whit the more to
Silverton. Uncle Ephraim had completed the work commenced by the two
feather beds, and at the breakfast, spread next morning in the coziest
of breakfast-rooms, he announced his intention of returning to New York
that day. To this Morris offered no objection, but asked to be
remembered to the mother, the sisters, and little Jamie, and then
invited Wilford to stop altogether at Linwood when he came again to
Silverton.

"Thank you; but it is hardly probable that I shall be here very soon,"
Wilford replied, adding, as he met the peculiar glance of Morris' eye:
"I found Miss Katy a delightful traveling acquaintance, and on my way
from Newport thought I would renew it and see a little of rustic life."

Poor Katy! how her heart would have ached could she have heard those
words and understood their meaning, just as Morris did, feeling a rising
indignation for the man with whom he could not be absolutely angry, he
was so self-possessed, so pleasant and gentlemanly, while better than
all, was he not virtually giving Katy up? and if he did, might she not
turn at last to him?

These were Morris' thoughts as he walked with Wilford across the fields
to the farmhouse, where Katy met them with her sunniest smile, singing
to them, at Wilford's request, her sweetest song, and making him half
wish he could revoke his hasty decision and tarry a little longer. But
it was now too late for that; the carriage which would take him to the
depot was already on its way from Linwood; and when the song was ended
he told her of his intentions to leave on the next train, feeling a pang
when he saw how the blood left her cheek and lip, and then came surging
back as she said timidly: "Why need you leave so soon?"

"Oh, I have already outstayed my time. I thought of going yesterday,
and my partner, Mr. Ray, will be expecting me," Wilford replied,
involuntarily laying his hand upon Katy's shining hair, while Morris
and Helen stole quietly from the room.

Thus left to himself, Wilford continued:

"Maybe I'll come again some time. Would you like to have me?"

"Yes," and Katy's blue eyes were lifted pleadingly to the young man, who
had never loved her so well as that very moment when resolving to cast
her off.

And as for Katy, she mentally called herself a fool for suffering
Wilford Cameron to see what was in her heart; but she could not help it,
for she loved him with all the strength of her impulsive nature, and to
have him leave her so suddenly hurt her cruelly.

For a moment Wilford was strongly tempted to throw all family pride
aside, and ask that young girl to be his; but thoughts of his mother,
of Juno and Bell, and more than all, thoughts of Uncle Ephraim and his
Sister Betsy, arose in time to prevent it, and so he only kissed her
forehead caressingly as he said good-by, telling her that he should not
soon forget his visit to Silverton, and then as the carriage drove up,
going out to where the remainder of the family were standing together
and commenting upon his sudden departure.

It was not sudden, he said, trying to explain. He really had thought
seriously of going yesterday, and feeling that he had something to atone
for, he tried to be unusually gracious as he shook their hands, thanking
them for their kindness, but seeming wholly oblivious to Aunt Betsy's
remark that "she hoped to see him again, if not at Silverton, in New
York, where she wanted dreadfully to visit, but never had on account
of the 'bominable prices charged to the taverns, and she hadn't no
acquaintances there."

This was Aunt Betsy's parting remark, and after Katy, simple-hearted
Aunt Betsy liked Wilford Cameron better than any one of the group which
watched him as he drove rapidly from their door. Aunt Hannah thought him
too much stuck up for farmer's folks, while Mrs. Lennox, whose ambition
would have accounted him a most desirable match for her daughter, could
not deny that his manner toward them, though polite in the extreme, was
that of a superior to people greatly beneath him; while Helen, who saw
clearer than the rest, read him tolerably aright, and detected the
struggle between his pride and his love for poor little Katy, whom she
found sitting on the floor, just where Wilford left her standing, her
head resting on the chair and her face hidden in her hands as she sobbed
quietly, hardly knowing why she cried or what to answer when Helen asked
what was the matter.

"It was so queer in him to go so soon," she said; "just as if he were
offended about something."

"Never mind, Katy," Helen said, soothingly. "If he's for you he will come
back again. He could not stay here always, of course; and I must say I
respect him for attending to his business, if he has any. He has been
gone from home for weeks, you know."

This was Helen's reasoning; but it did not comfort Katy, whose face
looked white and sad, as she moved listlessly about the house, almost
crying again when she beard in the distance the whistle of the train
which was to carry Wilford Cameron away, and end his first visit to
Silverton.



CHAPTER VI.

IN THE SPRING.


Katy Lennox had been very sick, and the bed where Wilford slept had
stood in the parlor during the long weeks while the obstinate fever ran
its course; but she was better now, and sat nearly all day before the
fire, sometimes trying to crochet a little, and again turning over the
books which Morris had brought to interest her--Morris, the kind
physician, who had attended her so faithfully, never leaving her while
the fever was at its height, unless it was necessary, but staying with
her day and night, watching her symptoms carefully, and praying so
earnestly that she might not die--not, at least, until some token had
been given that again in the better world he should find her, where
partings were unknown and where no Wilford Camerons could contest the
prize with him. Not that he was greatly afraid of Wilford now; that fear
had mostly died away just as the hope had died from Katy's heart that
she would ever meet him again.

Since the September morning when he left her, she had not heard from him
except once, when in the winter Morris had been to New York, and having
a few hours' leisure on his hands had called at Wilford's office,
receiving a most cordial reception, and meeting with young Mark Ray, who
impressed him as a man quite as highly cultivated as Wilford; and
possessed of more character and principle. This call was not altogether
of Morris' seeking, but was made rather with a view to pleasing Katy,
who, when she learned that he was going to New York, had said
inadvertently: "Oh, I do so hope you'll meet with Mr. Cameron, for then
we shall know that he is neither sick nor dead, as I have sometimes
feared."

And so, remembering this, Morris had sought out his rival, feeling more
than repaid for the mental effort it had cost him, when he saw how
really glad Wilford seemed to meet him. The first commonplaces over,
Wilford inquired for Katy. Was she well, and how was she occupying her
time this winter?

"Both Helen and Katy are pupils of mine," Morris replied, "reciting
their lessons to me every day when the weather will admit of their
crossing the fields to Linwood. We have often wondered what had become
of you, that you did not even let us know of your safe arrival home," he
added, looking Wilford fully in the eye, and rather enjoying his
confusion as he tried to apologize.

He had intended writing, but an unusual amount of business had occupied
his time. "Mark will tell you how busy I was," and he turned appealingly
to his partner, in whose expressive eyes Morris read that Silverton was
not unknown to him.

But if Wilford had told him anything derogatory of the farmhouse or its
inmates, it did not appear in Mr. Ray's manner, as he replied that Mr.
Cameron had been very busy ever since his return from Silverton, adding:
"From what Cameron tells me of your neighborhood there must be some
splendid hunting and fishing there, and I had last fall half a mind to
try it."

This time there was something comical in the eyes turned so
mischievously upon Wilford, who colored scarlet for an instant, but soon
recovered his composure, and invited Morris home with him to dinner.

"I shall not take a refusal," he said, as Morris began to decline.
"Mother and the young ladies will be delighted to see you again, while
Jamie--well, Jamie, I believe, worships the memory of the physician who
was so kind to him in France. You did Jamie a world of good, Dr. Grant,
and you must see him. Mark will go with us, of course."

There was something so hearty in Wilford's invitation that Morris did
not again object, and two hours later found him in the drawing-room at
No. ---- Fifth Avenue, receiving the friendly greetings of Mrs. Cameron
and her daughter, each of whom vied with the other in their polite
attentions to him, while little Jamie, to whose nursery he was admitted,
wound his arms around his neck and laying his curly head upon his
shoulder, cried quietly, whispering as he did so: "I am so glad, Dr.
Grant, so glad to see you again. I thought I never should, but I've not
forgotten the prayer you taught me, and I say it often when my back
aches so I cannot sleep and there's no one around to hear but Jesus. I
love Him now, if he did make me lame, and I know that He loves me."

Surely the bread cast upon the waters had returned again after many
days, and Morris Grant did not regret the time spent with the poor
crippled boy, teaching him the way of life and sowing the seed which
now was bearing fruit. Nor did he regret having accepted Wilford's
invitation to dinner, as by this means he saw the home which had
well-nigh been little Katy Lennox's. She would be sadly out of place
here with these people, he thought, as he looked upon all their
formality and ceremony and then contrasted it with what Katy had been
accustomed to. Juno would kill her outright, was his next mental
comment, as he watched that haughty young lady, dressed in the extreme
of fashion and dividing her coquetries between himself and Mr. Ray, who,
being every way desirable both in point of family and wealth, was
evidently her favorite. She had colored scarlet when first presented to
Dr. Grant, and her voice had trembled as she took his offered hand, for
she remembered the time when her liking had not been concealed, and was
only withdrawn at the last because she found how useless it was to waste
her affections upon one who did not prize them.

When Wilford first returned from Silverton he had, as a sore means of
forgetting Katy, told his mother and sisters something of the farmhouse
and its inmates; and Juno, while ridiculing both Helen and Katy, had
felt a fierce pang of jealousy in knowing they were cousins to Morris
Grant, who lived so near that he could, if he liked, see them every day.
In Paris Juno had suspected that somebody was standing between her and
Dr. Grant and how with the quick insight of a smart, bright woman, she
guessed that it was one of these same cousins, Katy most likely, her
brother having described Helen as very commonplace, and for a time she
had hated poor, innocent Katy most cordially for having come between her
and the only man for whom she had ever really cared. Gradually, however,
the feeling died away, but was revived again at sight of Morris Grant,
and at the table she could not forbear saying to him:

"By the way, Dr. Grant, why did you never tell us of those charming
cousins, when you were in Paris? Why, Brother Will describes one of them
as a little water lily, she is so fair and pretty. Katy, I think is her
name. Wilford, isn't it Katy Lennox whom you think so beautiful, and
with whom you are more than half in love?"

"Yes, it is Katy," and Wilford spoke sternly, for he did not like Juno's
bantering tone, but he could not stop her, and she went on:

"Are they your cousins, Dr. Grant?"

"No, they are removed from me two or three degrees, their father having
been only my second cousin."

The fact that Katy Lennox was not nearly enough related to Dr. Grant to
prevent his marrying her if he liked, did not improve Juno's amiability,
and she continued to ask questions concerning both Katy and Helen, the
latter of whom she persisted in thinking was strong-minded, until Mark
Ray came to the rescue, diverting her attention by adroitly
complimenting her in some way, and so relieving Wilford and Morris,
both of whom were exceedingly annoyed.

"When Will visits Silverton again I mean to go with him," she said to
Morris at parting, but he did not tell her that such an event would give
him the greatest pleasure. On the contrary, he merely replied:

"If you do you will find plenty of room at Linwood for those four trunks
which I remember seeing in Paris, and your brother will tell you whether
I am a hospitable host or not."

Biting her lip with chagrin, Juno went back to the drawing-room, while
Morris returned to his hotel, accompanied by Wilford, who passed the
entire evening with him, appearing somewhat constrained, as if there was
something on his mind which he wished to say; but it remained unspoken,
and there was no allusion to Silverton until as Wilford was leaving, he
said:

"Remember me kindly to the Silverton friends, and say I have not
forgotten them."

And this was all there was to carry back to the anxious Katy, who on the
afternoon of Morris' return from New York was over at Linwood waiting to
pour his tea and make his toast, she pretended, though the real reason
was shining all over her telltale face, which grew so bright and eager
when Morris said:

"I dined at Mr. Cameron's, Kitty."

But the brightness gradually faded as Morris described his call and then
repeated Wilford's message.

"And that was all," Katy whispered sorrowfully as she beat the damask
cloth softly with her fingers, shutting her lips tightly together to
keep back her disappointment.

When Morris glanced at her again there was a tear on her long eyelashes,
and it dropped upon her cheek, followed by another and another, but he
did not seem to see it, talking of New York and the fine sights in
Broadway until Katy was herself again, able to take part in the
conversation.

"Please don't tell Helen that you saw Wilford," she said to Morris as he
walked home with her after tea, and that was the only allusion she made
to it, never after that mentioning Wilford's name or giving any token of
the wounded love still so strong within her heart, and waiting only for
some slight token to waken it again to life and vigor.

This was in the winter, and Katy had been very sick since then--so sick
that even to her the thought had sometimes come: "What if I should die?"
but she was too weak, too nearly unconscious, to go further and reflect
upon the terrible reality death would bring if it found her unprepared.
She had only strength and sense enough to wonder if Wilford would care
when he heard that she was dead; and once, as she grew better, she
almost worked herself into a second fever with assisting at her own
obsequies, seeing only one mourner, and that one Wilford Cameron. Even
he was not there in time to see her in her coffin, but he wept over her
little grave and called her "darling Katy." So vividly had Katy pictured
all this scene, that Morris, when he called, found her flushed and hot,
with traces of tears on her face.

In reply to his inquiries as to what was the matter, she had answered
laughingly: "Oh, nothing much--only I have been burying myself," and so
Morris never dreamed of the real nature of her reveries, or guessed that
Wilford Cameron was mingled with every thought. She had forgotten him,
he believed; and when, as she grew stronger, he saw how her eyes
sparkled at his coming, and how impatient she seemed if he was obliged
to hurry off, hope whispered that she would surely be his, and his
usually grave face wore a look of happiness which even his patients
noticed, feeling themselves better after one of his cheery visits. Poor
Morris! he was little prepared for the terrible blow in store for him,
when one day early in April he started, as usual, to visit Katy, saying
to himself: "If I find her alone, perhaps I'll tell her of my love, and
ask if she will come to Linwood this summer;" and Morris paused a moment
beneath a beechwood tree to still the throbbings of his heart, which
beat so fast as he thought of going home some day from his weary work
and finding Katy there, his little wife--his own--whom he might caress
and love all his affectionate nature would prompt him to. He knew that
in some points she was weak--a silly little thing she called herself
when comparing her mind with Helen's--but there was about her so much
of purity, innocence, and perfect beauty, that few men, however strong
their intellect, could withstand her, and Morris, though knowing her
weakness, felt that in possessing her he should have all he needed to
make this life desirable. She would improve as she grew older, and it
would be a most delightful task to train her into what she was capable
of becoming. Alas! for Dr. Morris! He was very near the farmhouse now,
and there were only a few minutes between him and the cloud which would
darken his horizon so completely. Katy was alone, sitting up in her
pretty dressing gown of blue, which was so becoming to her pure
complexion. Her hair, which had been all cut away during her long
sickness, was growing out again somewhat darker than before, and lay in
rings upon her head, making her look more childish than ever. But to
this Morris did not object. He liked to have her a child, and he
thought he had never seen her so wholly beautiful as she was this
morning, when, with glowing cheek and dancing eyes, she greeted him as
he came in.

"Oh, Dr. Morris!" she began, holding up a letter she had in her hand,
"I am so glad you've come, for I wanted to tell you so badly Wilford has
not forgotten me, as I used to think, and as I guess you thought, too,
though you did not say so. He has written, and he is coming again, if I
will let him; and, oh, Morris! I am so glad! Ain't you? Seeing you knew
all about it, and never told Helen, I'll let you read the letter."

And she held it toward the young man leaning against the mantel and
panting for the breath which came so heavily.

Something he said apologetically about being snow blind, for there
was that day quite a fall of soft spring snow; and then with a mighty
effort, which made his heart quiver with pain, Morris was himself once
more, and took the letter in his hand.

"Perhaps I had better not read it," he said, but Katy insisted that he
might, and thinking to himself: "It will cure me sooner perhaps," he
read the few lines Wilford Cameron had written to his "dear little
Katy."

That was the way he addressed her, going on to say that circumstances
which he could not explain to her had kept him silent ever since he left
her the previous autumn; but through all he never for a moment had
forgotten her, thinking of her the more for the silence he had
maintained. "And now that I have risen above the circumstances," he
added, in conclusion, "I write to ask if I may come to Silverton again.
If I may, just drop me one word, 'come,' and in less than a week I shall
be there. Yours very truly, W. Cameron."

Morris read the letter through, feeling that every word was separating
him further and further from Katy, to whom he said: "You will answer
this?"

"Yes, oh yes; perhaps to-day."

"And you will tell him to come?"

"Why, yes--what else should I tell him?" and Katy's blue eyes looked
wonderingly at Morris, who hardly knew what he was doing, or why he said
to her next: "Listen to me, Katy. You know why Wilford Cameron comes
here a second time, and what he will probably ask you ere he goes away;
but, Katy, you are not strong enough yet to see him under so exciting
circumstances, and, as your physician, I desire that you tell him to
wait at least three weeks before he comes. Will you do so, Katy?"

"That is just as Helen talked," Katy answered, mournfully. "She said I
was not able."

"And will you heed us?" Morris asked again, while Katy after a moment
consented; and glad of this respite from what he knew to a certainty
would be, Morris dealt out her medicine, and for an instant felt her
rapid pulse, but did not retain her hand within his own, nor lay his
other upon her head, as he had sometimes done.

He could not do that now, and so he hurried away, finding the world into
which he went far different from what it had seemed an hour ago. Then
all was bright and hopeful; but now, alas! a darker night was gathering
around him than any he had ever known, and the patients visited that day
marveled at the whiteness of his face, asking if he were ill? Yes, he
answered them truly, and for two days he was not seen again, but
remained at home alone, where none but his God was witness to what he
suffered; but when the third day came he went again among his sick,
grave, quiet and unchanged to outward appearance, unless it was that
his voice, always so kind, had now a kinder tone and his manner was
tenderer, more sympathizing. Inwardly, however, there was a change, for
Morris Grant had lain himself upon the sacrificial altar, willing to be
and to endure whatever God should appoint, knowing that all would
eventually be for his good. To the farmhouse he went every day, talking
most with Helen now, but never forgetting who it was sitting so demurely
in the armchair, or flitting about the room, for Katy was gaining
rapidly. Love perhaps had had nothing to do with her dangerous illness,
but it had much to do with her recovery, and those not in the secret
wondered to see how she improved, her cheeks growing round and full and
her eyes shining with returning health and happiness.

At Helen's instigation Katy had deferred Wilford's visit four weeks
instead of three, but in that time there had come two letters from him,
letters so full of anxiety and sympathy for "his poor little Katy who
had been so sick," that even Helen began to think she had done injustice
to him, that he was not as proud and heartless as she supposed, and that
he did love her sister after all.

"If I supposed he meant to deceive her I should wish I was a man to
cowhide him," she said to herself, with flashing eye, as she heard Katy
exulting that he was coming "to-morrow."

This time he would stop at Linwood, for Katy had asked Morris if he
might, while Morris had told her "yes," feeling his heart wound throb
afresh, as he thought how hard it would be to entertain his rival. Of
himself Morris could do nothing, but with the help he never sought in
vain he could do all things, and so he gave orders that the best chamber
should be prepared for his guest, bidding Mrs. Hull, his housekeeper,
see that no pains were spared for his entertainment, and then with Katy
he waited for the day, the last one in April, which should bring Wilford
Cameron a second time to Silverton.



CHAPTER VII.

WILFORD'S SECOND VISIT.


Wilford Cameron had tried to forget Katy Lennox, while his mother and
sisters had done their best to help to forget, or at least sicken of
her; and as the three, Juno, Bell and the mother, were very differently
constituted, they had widely different ways of assisting him in his
dilemma, the mother complimenting his good sense in drawing back from
an alliance which could only bring him mortification; Bell, the blue
sister, ignoring the idea of Wilford's marrying that country girl as
something too preposterous to be contemplated for a moment, much less to
be talked about; while Juno spared neither ridicule nor sarcasm, using
the former weapon so effectually that her brother at one time nearly
went over to the enemy; and Katy's tears, shed so often when no one
could see her, were not without a reason. Wilford was trying to forget
her, both for his sake and her own, for he foresaw that she could not
be happy with his family, and he came to think it might be a wrong to
her, transplanting her into a soil so wholly unlike that in which her
habits and affections had taken root.

His father once had abruptly asked him if there was any truth in the
report that he was about to marry and make a fool of himself, and when
Wilford had answered "No," he had replied with a significant:

"Umph! Old enough, I should think, if you ever intend to marry.
Wilford," and the old man faced square about: "I know nothing of the
girl, except what I gathered from your mother and sisters. You have not
asked my advice. I don't suppose you want it, but if you do, here it is.
If you love the girl and she is respectable, marry her if she is poor as
poverty and the daughter of a tinker; but if you don't love her, and
she's rich as a nabob, for thunder's sake keep away from her."

This was the elder Cameron's counsel, and Katy's cause arose fifty per
cent, in consequence. Still Wilford was sadly disquieted, so much so
that his partner, Mark Ray, could not fail to observe that something was
troubling him, and at last frankly asked what it was. Wilford knew he
could trust Mark, and he confessed the whole, telling him far more of
Silverton than he had told his mother, and then asking what his friend
would do were the case his own.

Fond of fun and frolic, Mark laughed immoderately at Wilford's
description of Aunt Betsy bringing her "herrin' bone" patchwork into the
parlor, and telling him it was a part of Katy's "settin' out," but when
it came to her hint for an invitation to visit in New York, the amused
young man roared with laughter, wishing so much that he might live to
see the day when poor Aunt Betsy Barlow stood ringing for admittance at
No. ---- Fifth Avenue.

"Wouldn't it be rich, though, the meeting between your Aunt Betsy and
Juno?" and the tears fairly poured down the young man's face.

But Wilford was too serious for trifling, and after his merriment had
subsided, Mark talked with him candidly, sensibly, of Katy Lennox, whose
cause he warmly espoused, telling Wilford that he was far too sensitive
with regard to family and position.

"You are a good fellow on the whole, but too outrageously proud," he
said. "Of course this Aunt Betsy in her pongee, whatever that may be,
and the uncle in his shirt sleeves, and this mother whom you describe as
weak and ambitious, are objections which you would rather should not
exist; but if you love the girl, take her, family and all. Not that you
are to transport the whole colony of Barlows to New York," he added, as
he saw Wilford's look of horror, "but make up your mind to endure what
cannot be helped, resting yourself upon the fact that your position is
such as cannot well be affected by any marriage you might make, provided
the wife were right."

This was Mark Ray's advice, and it had great weight with Wilford, who
knew that Mark came, if possible, from a better line of ancestry than
himself, inasmuch as his maternal grandmother was a near relative of the
English Percys, and the daughter of a lord. And still Wilford hesitated,
waiting until the winter was over before he came to the decision which
when it was reached was firm as a granite rock. He had made up his mind
at last to marry Katy Lennox if she would accept him, and he told his
mother so in the presence of his sisters, when one evening they were all
kept at home by the rain. There was a sudden uplifting of Bell's
eyelashes, a contemptuous shrug of her shoulders, and then she went on
with the book she was reading, wondering if Katy was at all inclined to
literature, and thinking if she were that it might be easier to tolerate
her. Juno, who was expected to say the sharpest things, turned upon him
with the exclamation:

"If you can stand those two feather beds, you can do more than I
supposed," and as one means of showing her disapproval, she quitted the
room, while Bell, who had taken to writing articles on the follies of
the age, soon followed her sister to elaborate an idea suggested to her
mind by her brother's contemplated marriage.

Thus left alone with her son, Mrs. Cameron tried all her powers of
persuasion upon him in vain. But nothing she said influenced him in the
least, seeing which she suddenly confronted him with the question:
"Shall you tell her all? A husband should have no secrets of that kind
from his wife."

Wilford's face was white as ashes, and his voice trembled as he replied:
"Yes, mother, I shall tell her all; but, oh! you do not know how hard it
has been for me to bring my mind to that, or how sorry I am that we ever
kept that secret--when Genevra died--"

"Hush-h!" came warningly from the mother as Juno reappeared, the warning
indicating that Genevra, whoever she might be, was a personage never
mentioned, except by mother and son.

As Juno remained the conversation was not resumed, and the next morning
Wilford wrote to Katy Lennox the letter which carried to her so much of
joy, and to Dr. Grant so much of grief. To wait four weeks, as Katy said
he must, was a terrible trial to Wilford, who counted every moment which
kept him from her side. It was all owing to Dr. Grant and that
perpendicular Helen, he knew, for Katy in her letter had admitted that
the waiting was wholly their suggestion; and Wilford's thoughts
concerning them were anything but complimentary, until a new idea was
suggested, which drove every other consideration from his mind.

Wilford was naturally jealous, but that fault had once led him into so
deep a trouble that he had struggled hard to overcome it, and now, at
its first approach, after he thought it dead, he tried to shake it
off--tried not to believe that Morris cared especially for Katy. But
the mere possibility was unendurable, and in a most feverish state of
excitement he started again for Silverton.

As before, Morris was waiting for him at the station, his cordial
greeting and friendly manner disarming him from all anxiety in that
quarter, and making him resolve anew to trample the demon jealousy under
his feet, where it could never rise again. Katy's life should not be
darkened by the green monster, he thought, and her future would have
been bright indeed had it proved all that he pictured it as he drove
along with Morris in the direction of the farmhouse, for he was to stop
there first and then at night go over to sleep at Linwood.

Katy was waiting for him, and as he met her alone, he did not hesitate
to kiss her more than once as he kept her for a moment in his arms, and
then held her off to see if her illness had left any traces upon her. It
had not, except it were in the increased delicacy of her complexion and
the short hair now growing out in silky rings. She was very pretty in
her short hair, but Wilford felt a little impatient as he saw how
childish it made her look, and thought how long it would take for it to
attain its former length. He was already appropriating her to himself,
and devising ways of improving her. In New York, with Morris Grant
standing before his jealous gaze, he could see no fault in Katy, and
even now, with her beside him, and the ogre jealousy gone, he saw no
fault in her; it was only her dress, and that could be so easily
remedied. Otherwise she was perfect, and in his delight at meeting her
again he forgot to criticise the farmhouse and its occupants, as he had
done before.

They were very civil to him--the mother overwhelmingly so--insomuch that
Wilford could not help detecting her anxiety that all should be settled
this time. Helen, on the contrary, was unusually cool, confirming him in
his opinion that she was strong-minded and self-willed, and making him
resolve to remove Katy as soon as possible from her strait-laced
influence. When talking with his mother he had said that if Katy had
told him "yes," he should probably place her at some fashionable school
for a year or two; but on the way to Silverton he had changed his mind.
He could not wait a year, and if he married Katy at all, it should he
immediately. He would then take her to Europe, where she could have the
best of teachers, besides the advantage of traveling; and it was a very
satisfactory picture he drew of the woman whom he should introduce into
New York society as his wife, Mrs. Wilford Cameron. It is true that Katy
had not yet said the all-important word, but she was going to say it,
and when late that afternoon they came up from the walk he had asked her
to take, she was his promised wife.

They had sat together on the very rock where Katy sat that day when
Uncle Ephraim told her of the different paths there were through life,
some pleasant and free from care, some thorny and full of grief. Katy
had never forgotten the conversation, and, without knowing why, she had
always avoided that rock beneath the butternut as a place where there
had been revealed to her a glimpse of something sad; and so, when
Wilford proposed resting there, she at first objected, but yielded at
last, and, with his arm around her, listened to the story of his love.
It was what she had expected and thought herself prepared for, but when
it came it was so real, so earnest, that she could only clasp her hands
over her face, which she hid on Wilford's shoulder, weeping passionately
as she thought how strange it was for a man like Wilford Cameron to seek
her for his wife. Katy was no coquette; whatever she felt she expressed,
and when she could command herself she frankly confessed to Wilford her
love for him, telling him how the fear that he had forgotten her had
haunted her all the long, long winter; and then with her clear, truthful
blue eyes looking into his, asking him why he had not sent her some
message if, as he said, he loved her all the time.

For a moment Wilford's lip was compressed and a flush overspread his
face, as, drawing her closer to him, he replied: "My little Katy will
remember that in my first note I spoke of certain circumstances which
had prevented my writing earlier. I do not know that I asked her not to
seek to know those circumstances; but I ask it now. Will Katy trust me
so far as to believe that all is right between us, and never allude to
these circumstances?"

He was kissing her fondly, and his voice was so winning that Katy
promised all that was required; and then came the hardest, the trying to
tell her all, as he had said to his mother he would. Twice he essayed to
speak, and as often something sealed his lips, until at last he began:
"You must not think me perfect, Katy, for I have faults, and perhaps if
you knew my past life you would wish to revoke your recent decision and
render a different verdict to my suit. Suppose I unfold the blackest
leaf for your inspection?"

"No, no, oh, no," and Katy playfully stopped his mouth with her hand.
"Of course you have some faults, but I would rather find them out
myself. I could not hear anything against you now. I am satisfied to
take you as you are."

Wilford felt his heart throb wildly with the feeling that he was in some
way deceiving the young girl; but if she would not suffer him to tell
her, he was not to be censured if she remained in ignorance. And so the
golden moment fled, and when he spoke again he said: "If Katy will not
now read that leaf I offered to show her, she must not shrink back in
horror if ever it does meet her eye."

"I don't, I promise," Katy answered, a vague feeling of fear creeping
over her as to what the reading of that mysterious page involved. But
this was soon forgotten, as Wilford, remembering his suspicions of Dr.
Grant, thought to probe a little by asking if she had ever loved any one
before himself?

"No, never," she answered. "I never dreamed of such a thing until I saw
you, Mr. Cameron;" and Wilford believed the trusting girl, whose loving
nature shone in every lineament of her face, upturned to receive the
kisses he pressed upon it, resolving within himself to be to her what
he ought to be.

"By the way," he continued, "don't call me Mr. Cameron again, as you did
just now. I would rather be your Wilford. It sounds more familiar. And
still," he added, "it may be better at present to reserve that name for
the time when we are alone. To your family I may as well remain Mr.
Cameron."

This was an after thought, suggested by his knowing how he should shiver
to hear Aunt Betsy call him "Wilford," as she surely would if Katy did.
Then he told her of his projected tour to Europe, and Katy felt her
pulses quicken as she thought of London, Paris and Rome, as places which
her plain country eyes might yet look upon. But when it came to their
marriage, which Wilford said must be soon--within a few weeks--she
demurred, for this arrangement was not in accordance with her desires.
She should so much enjoy a long courtship with Wilford coming often to
Silverton, and such quantities of letters passing between them as should
make her the envy of all Silverton. This was Katy's idea, and she
opposed her lover with all her strength, telling him she was so young,
not eighteen till July, and she knew so little of housekeeping. He must
let her stay at home until she learned at least the art of making bread!

Poor, ignorant Katy! Wilford could not forbear a smile as he thought how
different were her views from his, and tried to explain that the art of
bread-making, though very desirable in most wives, was not an essential
accomplishment for his. Servants would do that; besides he did not
intend to have a house of his own at once; he should take her first to
live with his mother, where she could learn what was necessary much
better than there in Silverton.

Wilford Cameron expected to be obeyed in every important matter by the
happy person who should be his wife, and as he possessed the faculty of
enforcing perfect obedience without seeming to be severe, so he silenced
Katy's arguments, and when they left the shadow of the butternut tree
she knew that in all human probability six weeks' time would find her on
the broad ocean alone with Wilford Cameron. So perfect was Katy's faith
and love that she had no fear of Wilford now, but as his affianced wife
walked confidently by his side, feeling fully his equal, nor once
dreaming how great the disparity his city friends would discover between
the fastidious man of fashion and the unsophisticated country girl. And
Wilford did not seek to enlighten her, but suffered her to talk of the
delight it would be to live in New York, and how pleasant for mother and
Helen to visit her, especially the latter, who would thus have a chance
to see something of the world.

"When I get a house of my own I mean she shall live with me all the
while," she said, stooping to gather a tuft of wild bluebells growing in
a marshy spot.

Wilford winced a little, for in his estimation Helen Lennox formed no
part of that household to be established on Madison Square, but he would
not so soon tear down Katy's castles, and so he merely remarked as she
asked if it would not be nice to have Helen with them.

"Yes, very nice, but do not speak of it to her yet, as it will probably
be some time before she will come to us, and she had better not have it
in anticipation."

And so Helen never knew the honor in store for her as she stood in the
doorway anxiously waiting for her sister, who, she feared, would take
cold from being out so long. Something though in Katy's face made her
guess that to her was lost forever the bright little sister whom she
loved so dearly, and fleeing up the narrow stairway to her room she
wept bitterly as she thought of the coming time when she would share
that room alone, and know that never again would a little golden head
lie upon her neck just as it had lain, for there would be a new love, a
new interest between them, a love for the man whose voice she could hear
now talking to her mother in the peculiar tone he always assumed when
speaking to any one of them excepting Morris or Katy.

"I wish it were not wrong to hate him," she exclaimed passionately; "it
would be such a relief; but if he is only kind to Katy, I do not care
how much he despises us," and bathing her face in water Helen sat down
by her window, gazing out upon the fresh green earth, where the young
grass was springing, wondering if Mr. Cameron took her sister, when it
would probably be. "Not this year or more," she said, "for Katy is so
young;" but on this point she was soon set right by Katy herself, who,
leaving her lover alone with her mother, stole up to tell her sister the
good news.

"Yes, I know; I guessed as much when you came back from the meadows,"
and Helen's voice was very unsteady in its tone as she smoothed back the
soft rings clustering around her sister's brow.

"Crying. Helen! oh, don't. I shall love you just the same, and you are
coming to live with us in the new house on Madison Square," Katy said,
forgetting Wilford's instructions in her desire to comfort Helen, who
broke down again, while Katy's tears were mingled with her own.

It was the first time Katy had thought what it would be to leave forever
the good, patient sister, who had been so true, so kind, treating her
like a petted kitten and standing between her and every hardship.

"Don't cry, Nellie," she said, twining her arms around her neck; "New
York is not far away, and I shall come so often--that is, after we
return from Europe. Did I tell you we are going there first, and Wilford
will not wait, but says we must be married the tenth of June; that's his
birthday--thirty--and he is telling mother now."

"So soon--oh, Katy! and you so young!" was all Helen could say, as with
quivering lip she kissed her sister's hand raised to wipe her tears
away.

"Yes, it is soon, and I am young; but Wilford is in such a hurry; he
don't care," Katy replied, trying to comfort Helen, and begging of her
not to cry so hard.

No, Wilford did not care, as it would seem, how much he wrung the hearts
of Katy's family by taking her from them at once, and by dictating to a
certain extent the way in which he would take her. There must be no
invited guests, he said; no lookers-on, except such as chose to go to
the church where the ceremony would, of course, be performed, and from
which place he should go directly to the Boston train. It was his wish,
too, that the matter should be kept as quiet as possible, and not be
generally discussed in the neighborhood, as he disliked being a subject
for gossip. And Mrs. Lennox, to whom this was said, promised compliance
with everything, or if she ventured to object she found herself borne
down by a stronger will than her own, and weakly yielded, her manner
fully testifying to her delight at the honor conferred upon her by this
high marriage of her child. Wilford knew just how pleased she was, and
her obsequious manner annoyed him far more than did Helen's blunt,
straightforwardness, when, after supper was over, she told him how
averse she was to his taking Katy so soon, adding still further that if
it must be, she saw no harm in inviting a few of their neighbors. It was
customary--it would be expected, she said, while Mrs. Lennox, emboldened
by Helen's boldness, chimed in, "at least your folks will come; I shall
be glad to meet your mother."

Wilford was very polite to them both; very good-humored, but he kept to
his first position, and poor Mrs. Lennox saw fade into airy nothingness
all her visions of roasted fowls and frosted cake trimmed with myrtle
and flowers, with hosts of the Silverton people there to admire and
partake of the marriage feast. It was too bad, and so Aunt Betty said,
when, after Wilford had gone to Linwood, the family sat together around
the kitchen stove, talking the matter over.

"Yes, it was too bad, when there was that white hen turkey she could fat
up so easy before June, and she knew how to make 'lection cake that
would melt in your mouth, and was enough sight better than the black
stuff they called weddin' cake. Vum! she meant to try what she could do
with Mr. Cameron."

And next morning when he came again she did try, holding out as
inducements why he should be married the night before starting for
Boston, the "white hen, turkey, the 'lection cake, and the gay old times
the young folks would have playing snap-and-catchem; or if they had a
mind, they could dance a bit in the kitchen. She didn't believe in it,
to be sure--none of the orthodox did; but as Wilford was a 'Piscopal,
and that was a 'Piscopal quirk, it wouldn't harm for once."

Wilford tried not to show his disgust, and only Helen suspected how hard
it was for him to keep down his utter contempt. She saw it in his eyes,
which resembled two smoldering volcanoes as they rested upon Aunt Betsy
during her harangue.

"Thank you, madam, for your good intentions, but I think we will
dispense with the turkey and the cake," was all he said, though he did
smile at the old lady's definition of dancing, which for once she might
allow.

Even Morris, when appealed to, decided with Wilford against Mrs. Lennox
and Aunt Betsy, knowing how unequal he was to the task which would
devolve on him in case of a bridal party at the farmhouse. In
comparative silence he had heard from Wilford of his engagement,
offering no objection when told how soon the marriage would take place,
but congratulating him so quietly that, if Wilford had retained a
feeling of jealousy, it would have disappeared; Morris was so seemingly
indifferent to everything except Katy's happiness. But Wilford did not
observe closely, and failed to detect the hopeless look in Morris' eyes,
or the whiteness which settled about his mouth as he fulfilled the
duties of host and sought to entertain his guest. Those were dark hours
for Morris Grant, and he was glad when at the end of the second day
Wilford's visit expired, and he saw him driven from Linwood around to
the farmhouse, where he would say his parting words to Katy and then go
back to New York.



CHAPTER VIII.

GETTING READY TO BE MARRIED.


"Miss Helen Lennox, Silverton, Mass."

This was the superscription of a letter, postmarked New York, and
brought to Helen within a week after Wilford's departure. It was his
handwriting, too; and wondering what he could have written to her, Helen
broke the seal, starting as there dropped into her lap a check for five
hundred dollars.

"What does it mean?" she said, her cheek flushing with anger and
insulted pride as she read the following brief lines:

"NEW YORK, May 8th.

"MISS HELEN LENNOX: Please pardon the liberty I take in inclosing the sum
of five hundred dollars, to be used by you in procuring whatever Katy may
need for present necessities. Presuming that the country seamstresses
have not the best facilities for obtaining the latest fashions, my mother
proposes sending out her own private dressmaker, Mrs. Ryan. You may look
for her the last of the week.

"Yours truly, WILFORD CAMERON."

It would be impossible to describe Helen's indignation as she read this
letter, which roused her to a pitch of anger such as Wilford Cameron had
never imagined when he wrote the offensive lines. He had really no
intention of insulting her. On the contrary, the gift of money was
kindly meant, for he knew very well that Uncle Ephraim was poor, while
the part referring to the dressmaker was wholly his mother's
proposition, to which he had acceded, knowing how much confidence Juno
had in her taste, and that whatever she might see at the farmhouse would
remain a secret with her, or at most be confined to the ears of his
mother and sisters. He wished Katy to look well, and foolishly fancying
that no country artiste could make her look so, he consented to Mrs.
Ryan's going, never suspecting the storm of anger it would rouse in
Helen, whose first impulse was to throw the check into the fire. Her
second, however, was soberer. She would not destroy it, nor tell any one
she had it but Morris--he should know the whole. Accordingly, without a
word to any one, she repaired to Linwood, finding Morris at home, and
startling him with the vehemence of her anger as she explained the
nature of her errand.

"If I disliked Wilford Cameron before, I hate him now. Yes, hate him,"
she said, stamping her little foot in fury.

"Why, Helen!" Morris exclaimed, laying his hand reprovingly on her
shoulder. "Is this the right spirit for one who professes better things?
Stop a moment and think."

"I know it is wrong," Helen answered, the tears glittering in her eyes;
"but somehow since he came after Katy, I have grown so hard, so wicked
toward Mr. Cameron. He seems so proud, so unapproachable. Say, Cousin
Morris, do you think him a good man--that is, good enough for Katy?"

"Most people would call him too good for her," Morris replied. "And, in
a worldly point of view, she is doing well, while Mr. Cameron, I
believe, is better than three-fourths of the men who marry our girls. He
is very proud; but that results from his education and training. Looking
only from a New York standpoint he misjudges country people, but he will
appreciate you by and by. Do not begin by hating him so cordially."

"Yes, but this money. Now, Morris, we do not want him to get Katy's
outfit. I would rather go without clothes my whole life. Shall I send it
back?"

"I think that the best disposition to make of it," Morris replied. "As
your brother, I can and will supply Katy's needs."

"I knew you would, Morris. What should we do without you?" and Helen
smiled gratefully upon the doctor, who in word and deed was to her like
a dear brother. "And I'll send it to-day, in time to keep that dreadful
Mrs. Ryan from coming; for, Morris, I won't have any of Wilford
Cameron's dressmakers in the house."

Morris could not help smiling at Helen's energetic manner as she
hurried to his library and taking his pen wrote to Wilford Cameron as
follows:

"SILVERTON, May 9th.

"Mr. WILFORD CAMERON: I give you credit for the kindest of motives in
sending the check, which I now return to you, with my compliments. We are
not as poor as you suppose, and would almost deem it sacrilege to let
another than ourselves provide for Katy so long as she is ours. And
furthermore, that Mrs. Ryan's services will not be needed, so it is not
worth her while to make a journey here for nothing. Yours,

"HELEN LENNOX."

Helen felt better after this letter had gone, wondering often how it
would be received, and if Wilford would be angry. She hoped he would,
and his mother too. "The idea of sending that Ryan woman to us, as if we
did not know anything!" and Helen's lip curled scornfully as she thus
denounced the Ryan woman, whose trunk was all packed with paper patterns
and devices of various kinds when the letter arrived saying she was not
needed. Being a woman of few words, she quietly unpacked her patterns
and went back to the work she was engaged upon when Mrs. Cameron
proposed her going into the country. Juno, on the contrary, flew into a
violent passion to think their first friendly advances should be thus
received. Bell laughed immoderately, saying she rather liked Helen
Lennox's spirit, and almost wished her brother had chosen her instead of
the other, who, she presumed, was a milk and water thing, even if Mrs.
Woodhull did extol her so highly. Mrs. Cameron felt the rebuff keenly,
wincing under it, and saying "that Helen Lennox must be a very rude,
ill-bred girl," and hoping her son would draw the line of division
between his wife and her family so tightly that the sister could never
pass over it. She had received the news of her son's engagement without
opposition, for she knew the time for that was passed. Wilford would
marry Katy Lennox, and she must make the best of it, so she offered no
word of remonstrance, but, when they were alone, she said to him: "Did
you tell her? Does she know it all?"

"No, mother," and the old look of pain came back into Wilford's face.
"I meant to do so, and I actually began, but she stopped me short,
saying she did not wish to hear my faults, she would rather find them
out herself. Away from her it is very easy to think what I will do, but
when the trial comes I find it hard, we have kept it so long; but I
shall tell her yet; not till after we are married though, and I have
made her love me even more than she does now. She will not mind it then.
I shall take her where I first met Genevra, and there I will tell her.
Is that right?"

"Yes, if you think so," Mrs. Cameron replied.

Whatever it was which Wilford had to tell Katy Lennox, it was very
evident that he and his mother looked at it differently, he regarding it
as a duty he owed to Katy not to conceal from her what might possibly
influence her decision, while his mother only wished the secret told in
hopes that it would prevent the marriage; but now that Wilford had
deferred it till after the marriage, she saw no reason why it need be
told at all. At least Wilford could do as he thought best, and she
changed the conversation from Genevra to Helen's letter, which had so
upset her plans. That her future daughter-in-law was handsome she did
not doubt, for Wilford said so, and Mrs. Woodhull said so in her letter
of congratulation; but she, of course, had no manner, no style, and as a
means of improving her in the latter respect, and making her presentable
at the altar and in Boston, she had proposed sending out Ryan, as she
was called in the family; but that project had failed, and Helen Lennox
did not stand very high in the Cameron family, though Wilford in his
heart felt an increased respect for her independent spirit,
notwithstanding that she had thwarted his designs.

"I have another idea," Mrs. Cameron said to her daughters that
afternoon, when talking with them upon the subject. "Wilford tells me
Katy and Bell are about the same size and figure, and Ryan shall make up
a traveling suit proper for the occasion. Of course there will be no one
at the wedding for whom we care, but in Boston, at the Revere, it will
be different. Cousin Harvey boards there, and she is very stylish. I saw
some elegant gray poplins, of the finest luster, at Stewarts yesterday.
Suppose we drive down this afternoon."

This was said to Juno as the more fashionable one of the sisters, but
Bell answered quickly: "Poplin, mother, on Katy? It will not become her
style, I am sure, though suitable for many. If I am to be fitted I shall
say a word about the fabric. Get a little checked silk, as expensive as
you like. It will suit her better than a heavy poplin."

Perhaps Bell was right, Mrs. Cameron said; they would look at both, and
as the result of this looking, two dresses, one of the finest poplin,
and one of the softest, richest, plaided silk were given the next day
into Mrs. Ryan's hands, with injunctions to spare no pains or expense in
trimming and making both. And so the dressmaking for Katy's bridal was
proceeding in New York, in spite of Helen's letter; while down in
Silverton, at the farmhouse, there were numerous consultations as to
what was proper and what was not, Helen sometimes almost wishing she had
thrown off her pride and suffered Mrs. Ryan to come. Katy would look
well in anything, but Helen knew there were certain styles preferable to
others, and in a maze of perplexity she consulted with this and that
individual, until all Silverton knew what was projected, each one
offering the benefit of her advice until Helen and Katy both were nearly
distracted. Aunt Betsy suggested a blue delaine and round cape, offering
to get it herself, and actually purchasing the material with her own
funds, saved from drying apples. That would answer for one dress, Helen
said, but not for the wedding; and she was becoming more and more
undecided, when Morris came to the rescue, telling Katy of a young woman
who had for some time past been his patient, but who was now nearly well
and anxious to obtain work again. She had evidently seen better days, he
said; was very ladylike in her manner, and possessed of a great deal of
taste, he imagined; besides that, she had worked in one of the largest
shops in New York. "As I am going this afternoon over to North
Silverton," he added, in conclusion, "and shall pass Miss Hazelton's
house, you or Helen might accompany me and see for yourself."

It was decided that Helen should go, and about four o'clock she found
herself ringing at the cottage over whose door hung the sign: "Miss M.
Hazelton, Fashionable Dressmaker." She was at home, so said the little
slipshod girl who answered the ring, and in a few moments Helen was
talking with Marian Hazelton, whose face showed signs of recent illness,
but, nevertheless, very attractive, from its peculiarly sad expression
and the soft liquid eyes of dark blue, which looked as if they were not
strangers to tears. At twenty she must have been strikingly beautiful;
and even now, at thirty, few ladies could have vied with her had she
possessed the means for gratifying her taste and studying her style.
About the mouth, so perfect in repose, there was when she spoke a
singularly sweet smile, which in a measure prepared one for the low,
silvery voice, which had a strange note of mournful music in its tone,
making Helen start as it asked: "Did you wish to see me?"

"Yes; Dr. Grant told me you were--" Helen paused here, for though
Marian Hazelton's dress indicated poverty, the words "were wanting work"
seemed at variance with her whole being, and so she changed her form of
speech, and said instead: "Told me you could make dresses, and I drove
around with him to secure your services, if possible, for my sister, who
is soon to be married. We would like it so much if you could go to our
house instead of having Katy come here."

Marian Hazelton was needing work, for there was due more than three
months' board, besides the doctor's bill, and so, though it was not
her custom to go from house to house, she would, in this instance,
accommodate Miss Lennox, especially as during her illness her customers
had many of them gone elsewhere, and her little shop was nearly broken
up. "Was it an elaborate trousseau she was expected to make?" and she
bent down to turn over some fashion plates lying upon the table.

"Oh, no! we are plain country people. We cannot afford as much for Katy
as we would like; besides, I dare say Mr. Cameron will prefer selecting
most of her wardrobe himself, as he is very wealthy and fastidious,"
Helen replied, repenting the next instant the part concerning Mr.
Cameron's wealth, as that might look like boasting to Miss Hazelton,
whose head was bent lower over the magazine as she said: "Did I
understand that the gentleman's name was Cameron?"

"Yes, Wilford Cameron, from New York," Helen answered, holding up her
skirts and s-s-kt-ing at the kitten which came running toward her,
evidently intent upon springing into her lap.

Fear of cats was Helen's weakness, if weakness it can be called, and in
her efforts to frighten her tormentor she did not look again at Miss
Hazelton until startled by a gasping cry and heavy fall. Marian had
fainted, and Helen was just raising her head from the floor to her lap
when Morris appeared, relieving her of her burden, of whom he took
charge until she showed signs of life. In her alarm Helen forgot
entirely what they were talking about when the faint came on, and her
first question put to Marian was: "Were you taken suddenly ill? Why did
you faint?"

There was no answer at first, except tears, which quivered on the long
eyelashes, and then rolled down the cheeks; but when she did speak she
said: "I am still so weak that the least exertion affects me, and I was
bending over the table; it will soon pass off."

If she was so weak, she was not able to work, Helen said, proposing that
the plan be for the present abandoned; but to this Marian would not
listen; her great eager eyes had in them so scared a look that Helen
said no more on that subject, but made arrangements for her coming to
them at once. Morris was to leave his patient some medicine, and while
he was preparing it Helen had time to notice her more carefully,
admiring her ladylike manners, and thinking her smile the sweetest she
had ever seen. Especially was this the case when it was given to Morris,
and Helen felt that in his presence Miss Hazelton was, if possible,
softer, sweeter, more gracious than before; and still there was nothing
immodest or unwomanly in her manner, nothing but that peculiar air which
attractive women sometimes put on before the other sex. She might not
have been conscious of it herself; and yet, when once she met Helen's
eyes as she was smiling gratefully upon Dr. Morris, there came a sudden
change into her face, and she bit her lip with evident vexation. Could
it be that she was fascinated by the young physician who had attended
her so long, and who, within the last few months, had grown so popular?
Helen asked herself this question several times on her way home, and
inquired of Morris what he knew of her.

"Nothing, except that she came to North Silverton a year ago, opening
her shop, and by her faithfulness, and pleasant, obliging manners,
winning favor with all who employed her. Previous to her sickness she
had a few times attended St. Paul's at South Silverton, that being the
church of her choice. Had Helen never observed her?"

No, Helen had not. And then she spoke of her fainting, telling how
sudden it was and wondering if she was subject to such turns. Marian
Hazelton had made a strong impression on Helen's mind, and she talked
of her so much that Katy waited her appearance at the farmhouse with
feverish anxiety. It was evening when she came, looking very white, and
seeming to Helen as if she had changed since she saw her first. In her
eyes there was a kind of hopeless, weary expression, while her smile
made one almost wish to cry, it was so sad, and yet so strangely sweet.
Katy felt its influence at once, growing very confidential with the
stranger, who, during the half hour in which they were accidentally left
alone, drew from her every particular concerning her intended marriage.
Very closely the dark blue eyes scrutinized little Katy, taking in first
the faultless beauty of her face, and then going away down into the
inmost depths of her character, as if to find out what was there.

"Pure, loving, innocent, and unsuspecting," was Marian Hazelton's
verdict, and she followed wistfully every movement of the young girl as
she flitted around the room, chatting as familiarly with the dressmaker
as if she were a friend long known instead of an entire stranger.

"You look very young to be married," said Miss Hazelton to her once, and
shaking back her short rings of hair Katy answered: "Eighteen next
Fourth of July; but Mr. Cameron is thirty."

"Is he a widower?" was the next question, which Katy answered with a
merry laugh. "Mercy, no! I marry a widower! How funny! I don't believe
he ever cared a fig for anybody but me. I mean to ask him."

"I would," and the pale lips shut tightly together, while a resentful
gleam shot for a moment across Marian's face; but it quickly passed
away, and her smile was as sweet as ever as she at last bade the family
good-night and repaired to the little room where Wilford Cameron once
had slept.

A long time she stood before the glass, brushing her dark, abundant
hair, and intently regarding her own features, while in her eyes there
was a hard, terrible look, from which Katy Lennox would have shrunk
abashed. But that too passed, and the eyes grew soft with tears as she
turned away, and falling on her knees moaned sadly: "I never will--no, I
never will, God help me to keep the promise. Were it the other--Helen--I
might, for she could bear it; but Katy, that child---no, I never will,"
and as the words died on her lips there came struggling up from her
heart a prayer for Katy Lennox's happiness, as fervent and sincere as
any which had ever been made for her since she was betrothed.

They grew to liking each other rapidly, Marian and Katy, the latter of
whom thought her new friend greatly out of place as a dressmaker,
telling her she ought to marry some rich man, calling her Marian
altogether, and questioning her very closely of her previous life. But
Marian only told her that she was born in London; that she learned her
trade on the Isle of Wight, near to the Osborne House, where the royal
family sometimes came, and that she had often seen the present Queen,
thus trying to divert Katy's mind from asking what there was besides
that apprenticeship to the Misses True on the Isle of Wight. Once,
indeed, she went further, learning that Marian's friends were dead; that
she had come to America in hopes of doing better than she could at home;
that she had stayed in New York until her health began to fail, and then
had tried what country air would do, coming to North Silverton because
a young woman who worked in the same shop was acquainted there, and
recommended the place. This was all Katy could learn, and Marian's heart
history, if she had one, was guarded carefully. One day as they sat
together alone, when Helen had gone to the village to do some shopping
for Katy, Marian abruptly said: "I have lived in New York, you know,
and why do you not ask if I ever saw these Camerons?"

"You! did you?--have you, really?--and what are they like?" Katy almost
screamed, skipping across the floor and seating herself by Marian, who
replied: "Much like other ladies of their stamp--proud and fashionable.
The father I never saw, but your Mr. Cameron I used to see in the street
driving his handsome bays."

Anything relating to the pride and fashion of her future relations made
Katy uncomfortable, and she remained silent, cutting into bits a piece
of silk, until Marian continued: "Sometimes there was a child in the
Cameron carriage. Do you know who it was?"

Delighted that she too could impart information, Katy hastened to say
that it was probably "little Jamie, the orphan grandchild, whose parents
died in Italy. Morris told me he met them in Paris, and he said Jamie's
father died of consumption, and the mother, too, either then or
afterward. At all events Jamie is an orphan and a cripple. He will never
walk, Morris says; and he told me so much about him--how patient he was
and how good."

Katy did not see the tears which threatened to mar the silk on which
Marian Hazelton was working, for they were brushed away almost as
quickly as they came, while in her usual voice she asked: "What was the
cause of his lameness?"

"I don't know just how it happened," Katy replied, "but believe it
resulted from the carelessness of a servant in leaving him alone, or
something."

"A servant!" Marian repeated, a flush rising to her cheek and a strange
light flashing on her eye.

She had heard all she cared to hear of the Camerons that day, and
she was glad when Helen returned from the village, as her appearance
diverted Katy's mind into another channel, and in examining the dress
trimmings which Helen had brought, she forgot to talk of Jamie Cameron.
The trimmings, fringe and buttons were for the wedding dress, the one in
which Katy was to be married, and which Helen reserved the right to make
to herself. Miss Hazelton must fit it, of course, but to her belonged
the privilege of making it, every stitch; Katy would think more of it if
she did it all, she said; but she did not confess how the bending over
that one dress, both early and late, was the escape valve for the
feeling which otherwise would have found vent in passionate tears. Helen
was very wretched during the pleasant May days she usually enjoyed so
much, but over which now a dark pall was spread, shutting out all the
brightness and leaving only the terrible certainty that Katy was lost to
her forever--bright, frolicsome Katy, who, without a shadow on her heart
sported amid the bridal finery, unmindful of the anguish tugging at the
hearts of both the patient women, Marian and Helen, who worked on so
silently, reserving their tears for the night time, when Katy lay
sweetly sleeping and dreaming of Wilford Cameron. Helen had ceased to
think that Hiss Hazelton had any designs on Dr. Grant, for her manner
toward Uncle Ephraim was just as soft and conciliating, and she
dismissed that subject from her mind with the reflection that it was the
nature of some girls to be very pretty to the gentlemen, without meaning
any harm. She liked Marian on the whole, regarding her as a quiet woman,
who knew her business and kept to it, but never guessing that her
feelings, too, were stirred to their very depths as the bridal
preparations progressed. She only knew how wretched she was herself, and
how hard it was to fight her tears back as she bent over the plaided
silk, weaving in with every stitch a part of the clinging love which
each day grew stronger for the only sister, who would soon be gone,
leaving her alone. Only once did she break entirely down, and that was
when the dress was done and Katy tried it on, admiring its effect, and
having a second glass brought that she might see it behind.

"Isn't it lovely?" she exclaimed; "and the more valuable because you
made it, I shall think of you every time I wear it," and the impulsive
girl found her arms around Helen's neck, kissing her lovingly, while
Helen sank into a chair and sobbed aloud: "Oh, Katy, darling Katy! you
won't forget me when you are rich and admired and can have all you want?
You will remember us here at home, so sad and lonely? You don't know how
desolate it will be, knowing you are gone, never to come back again,
just as you go away."

In an instant Katy was on her knees before Helen whom she tried to
comfort by telling her how she should come back, come often, too,
staying a long while; and that when she had a city home of her own
she should live with her for good, and they would be so happy.

"I cannot quite give Wilford up to please you," she said, when that
gigantic sacrifice suggested itself as something which it was possible
Helen might require of her; "but I will do anything else, only please
don't cry, darling Nellie--please don't cry. It spoils all my pleasure,"
and Katy's soft hands wiped away the tears running so fast over her
sister's face.

After that Helen did not cry again in Katy's presence, but the latter
knew she wanted to and it made her rather sad, particularly when she saw
reflected in the faces of the other members of the family the grief she
had witnessed in Helen. Even Uncle Ephraim was not as cheerful as usual,
and once when Katy came upon him in the woodshed chamber, where he was
shelling corn, she found him resting from his work and looking from the
window far off across the hills, with a look which made her guess he was
thinking of her, and stealing up beside him she laid her hand upon his
wrinkled face, whispering softly: "Poor Uncle Eph, are you sorry, too?"

He knew what she meant, and the aged chin quivered, while a big tear
dropped into the tub of corn, as he replied: "Yes, Katy-did--very
sorry."

That was all he said, and Katy, after smoothing his cheek a moment
kissed his silvery hair and then stole away, wondering if every girl's
family felt so badly before she was married, and wondering next if the
love to which she was going was equal to the love of home, which, as the
days went by, grew stronger and stronger, enfolding her in a mighty
embrace, which could only be severed by bitter tears and fierce
heart-pangs, such as death itself sometimes brings. In that household
there was, after Katy, no one glad of that marriage except the mother,
and she was only glad because of the position it would bring to her
daughter. But among them all Morris suffered most, and suffered more
because he had to endure in secret, to cover up his sorrow so that no
one guessed the pain it was for him to go each day where Katy was, and
watch her as she sometimes donned a part of her finery for his benefit,
asking him once if he did not almost wish he were in Wilford's place, so
as to have as pretty a bride as she should make. Then Marian Hazelton
glanced up in time to see the expression of his face, a look whose
meaning she readily recognized, and when Dr. Grant left the farmhouse
that day, another than himself knew of his love for Katy, drawing her
breath hurriedly as she thought of taking back the words "I never will,"
of revoking the decision and telling Katy what Wilford Cameron should
have told her long before. But the wild wish fled, and Wilford's secret
was safe, while Marian watched Morris Grant with a pitying interest as
he came among them, speaking always in the same kind, gentle tone, and
trying so hard to enter into Katy's joy.

"His burden is greater than mine. God help us both," Marian said, as she
resumed her work.

And so amid joy and gladness, silent tears and breaking hearts the
preparations went on until all was done, and only three days remained
before the eventful tenth. Marian Hazelton was going home, for she would
not stay at the farmhouse until all was over, notwithstanding Katy's
entreaties, joined to those of Helen.

"Perhaps she would come to the church," she said, "though she could not
promise;" and her manner was so strange as she gathered up her things
that Katy wondered if in any way she could have been offended, and at
last said to her timidly, as she stood with her bonnet on waiting for
Uncle Ephraim: "You are not angry with me for anything, are you?"

"Angry with you!" and Katy never forgot the glitter of the tearful eyes,
or their peculiar expression as they turned upon her. "No, oh, no; I
could not be angry with you, and yet, Katy Lennox, some in my position
would hate you, contrasting your prospects with their own; but I do not;
I love you; I bless you, and pray that you may be happy with your
husband; honor him, obey him if need be, and above all, never give him
the slightest cause to doubt you. You will have admirers, Katy Lennox.
In New York others than your husband will speak to you words of
flattery, but don't you listen. Remember what I tell you; and now,
again, God bless you."

She touched her lips to Katy's forehead, and when they were withdrawn
there were great tears there which she had left! Marian's tears on
Katy's brow; and truly, it was very meet that just before her bridal day
Wilford Cameron's bride should receive such baptism from Marian
Hazelton.



CHAPTER IX.

BEFORE THE MARRIAGE.


On the morning of the ninth day of June, 18--, Wilford Cameron stood in
his father's parlor, surrounded by the entire family, who, after their
usually early breakfast, had assembled to bid him good-by, for Wilford
was going for his bride, and it would be months, if not a year, ere he
returned to them again. They had given him up to his idol, asking only
that none of the idol's family should be permitted to cross their
threshold, and also that the idol should not often be allowed the
privilege of returning to the place from whence she came. These
restrictions had emanated from the female portion of the Cameron family,
the mother, Juno and Bell. The father, on the contrary, had sworn
roundly as he would sometimes swear at what he called the contemptible
pride of his wife and daughters. Katy was sure of a place in his heart
just because of the pride which was building up so high a wall between
her and her friends, and when at parting he held his son's hand in his,
he said:

"I charge you, Will, be kind to that young girl, and don't, for Heaven's
sake, go to cramming her with airs and nonsense which she does not
understand. Tell her I'll be a father to her; her own, you say, is dead,
and give her this as my bridal present."

He held out a small-sized box containing a most exquisite set of pearls,
such as he fancied would be becoming to the soft, girlish beauty Wilford
had described. Something in his father's manner touched Wilford closely,
making him resolve anew that if Kitty were not happy as Mrs. Cameron it
should not be his fault. His mother had said all she wished to say,
while his sisters had been gracious enough to send their love to the
bride, Bell hoping she would look as well in the poplin and little plaid
as she had done. Either was suitable for the wedding day, Mrs. Cameron
said, and she might take her choice, only Wilford must see that she did
not wear with the poplin the gloves and belt intended for the silk;
country people had so little taste, and she did want Katy to look well,
even if she were not there to see her. And with his brain a confused
medley of poplins and plaids, belts and gloves, pearls and Katy, Wilford
finally tore himself away, and at three o'clock that afternoon drove
through Silverton village, past the little church which the Silverton
maidens were decorating with flowers, pausing a moment in their work to
look at him as he went by. Among them was Marian Hazelton, but she did
not look up, she only bent lower over her work, thus hiding the tear
which dropped from the delicate buds she was fashioning into the words,
"Joy to the Bride," intending the whole as the center of the wreath to
be placed over the altar just where all could see it.

"The handsomest man I ever saw," was the verdict of most of the girls as
they came hack to their work, while Wilford drove on to the farmhouse
where Katy had been so anxiously watching for him.

When he came in sight, however, and she knew he was actually there, she
ran away to hide her blushes and the feeling of awe which had come
suddenly over her for the man who was to be her husband. But Helen bade
her go back, and so she went coyly in to Wilford, who met her with
loving caresses, and then put upon her finger the superb diamond which
he said he had thought to send as a pledge of their engagement, but had
finally concluded to wait and present himself. Katy had heard much of
diamonds, and seen some in Canandaigua; but the idea that she, plain
Katy Lennox, would ever wear them, had never once entered her mind; and
now as she looked at the brilliant gem sparkling upon her hand, she felt
a thrill of something more than joy at that good fortune which had
brought her to diamonds. Vanity, we suppose it was--such vanity as was
very natural in her case, and she thought she should never tire of
looking at the precious stone; but when Wilford showed her next the
plain broad band of gold, and tried it on her third finger, asking if
she knew what it meant, the true woman spoke within her, and she
answered, tearfully:

"Yes, I know, and I will try to prove worthy of what I shall be to you
when I wear that ring for good."

Katy was very quiet for a moment as she sat with her head nestled
against Wilford's bosom, but when he observed that she was looking
tired, and asked if she had been working hard, the quiet fit was broken,
and she told him of the dress "we had made," that "we" referring solely
to Helen and Marian, for Katy had hardly done a thing. But it did not
matter; she fancied she had, and she asked if he did not wish to see her
dresses. Wilford knew it would please Katy, and so, though he cared very
little about it, he followed her into the adjoining room where they were
still spread out upon the tables and chairs, with Helen in their midst,
ready to pack them away. Wilford thought of Mrs. Ryan and the check, but
he shook hands with Helen very civilly, saying to her, playfully:

"I suppose that you are willing I should take your sister with me this
time."

Helen could not answer, but turned away to hide her face, while Katy
showed to her lover one dress after another, until she came to the
little plaid, which, with a bright blush she told him "was the very
thing itself--the one intended for to-morrow, and asked if he did not
like it."

Wilford could not help telling her yes, for he knew she wished him to do
so, but in his heart he was thinking bad thoughts against the wardrobe
of his bride-elect--thoughts which would have won for him the title of
hen-huzzy from Helen, could she have known them. And yet Wilford did not
deserve that name. Accustomed all his life to hearing dress discussed in
his mother's parlor, and in his sister's boudoir, it was natural he
should think more of it and notice it more than Morris Grant would do,
while for the last five weeks he had heard at home of little else than
the probably _tout ensemble_ of Katy's wardrobe, bought and made in the
country, his mother deciding finally to write to her cousin, Mrs.
Harvey, who boarded at the Revere, and have her see it before Katy left
the city. Under these circumstances, it was not strange that Wilford did
not enter into Katy's delight, even after she told him how Helen had
made every stitch of the dress herself, and that it would on that
account be very dear to her. This was a favorable time for getting the
poplin off his mind, and with a premonitory ahem, he said: "Yes, it is
very nice, no doubt; but," and here he turned to Helen, "after Mrs.
Ryan's services were declined, my mother determined to have two dresses
fitted to Sister Bell, who I think is just Katy's size and figure. I
need not say"--and his eyes still rested on Helen, who gave him back an
unflinching glance--"I need not say that no pains have been spared to
make these garments everything they should be in point of quality and
style. I have them in my trunk," and, tuning now to Katy, "it is my
mother's special request that one of them be worn to-morrow. You could
take your choice, she said--either was suitable. I will bring them for
your inspection."

He left the room, while Helen's face resembled a dark thundercloud,
whose lightnings shone in her flashing eyes as she looked after him and
then back to where Katy stood, bewildered and wondering what was wrong.

"Who is Mrs. Ryan?" she asked. "What does he mean?" but before Helen
could command her voice to explain, Wilford was with them again,
bringing the dresses, over which Katy nearly went wild.

She had never seen anything as elegant as the rich heavy poplin or the
soft lustrous silk, while even Helen acknowledged that there was about
them a finish which threw Miss Hazelton's quite in the shade.

"Beautiful!" Katy exclaimed; "and trimmed so exquisitely! I do so hope
they will fit!"

"I dare say they will," Wilford replied, enjoying her appreciation of
his mother's gift. "At all events they will answer for to-morrow, and
any needful alterations can be made in Boston. Which will you wear?"

"Oh, I don't know. I wish I could wear both. Helen, which shall I?" and
Katy appealed to her sister, who could endure no more, but hid her head
among the pillows of the bed and cried.

Katy understood the whole, and dropping upon the floor the silk to
which she inclined the most, she flew to Helen's side, and whispered to
her: "Don't, Nellie, right before Wilford. I won't wear either of them.
I'll wear the one you made. It was mean and vain in me to think of doing
otherwise."

During this scene Wilford had stolen from the room, and with him gone
Helen was herself, capable of judging candidly and sensibly. She knew
the city silk, which cost three dollars per yard, and was fastened with
buttons of gold, having Katy's initial upon their face, was handsomer
and better suited for Wilford Cameron's bride than the country plaid,
costing one dollar per yard, and trimmed with buttons at eighteen pence
per dozen, and so she said to Katy: "I would rather you should wear the
one they sent. It will become you better. Suppose you try it on," and in
seeking to gratify her sister Helen forgot in part her own cruel
disappointment, and that her work of days had been for naught. The dress
fitted well, though Katy pronounced it too tight and too long. A few
moments, however, accustomed her to the length, and then her mother,
Aunt Hannah, and Aunt Betsy came to see and admire, while Katy proposed
going out to Wilford, but Helen kept her back. Aunt Betsy remarking,
under her breath, that "she didn't see for the life on her how Catherine
could be so free and easy with that man when just the sight of him was
enough to take away a body's breath."

"More free and easy than she will be by and by," was Helen's mental
comment as she proceeded quietly to pack the trunk which Morris had
brought for the voyage across the sea, dropping into it many a tear as
she folded away one article after another, and wondered under what
circumstances she should see them again if she saw them ever.

Helen was a Christian girl, and many a time had she prayed in secret
that He who rules the deep would keep its waters calm and still while
her sister was upon them, and she prayed so now, constantly, burying her
face once in her hands, and asking that Katy might come back to them
unchanged, if possible, and asking next that God would remove from her
heart all bitterness toward the bridegroom, who was to be her brother,
and whom, after that short, earnest prayer, she found herself liking
better. He loved Katy, she was sure, and that was all she cared for,
though she did wish he would release her before twelve o'clock on that
night, the last she would spend with them for a long, long time. But
Wilford kept her with him in the parlor, kissing away the tears which
flowed so fast when she recalled the prayer said that night by Uncle
Ephraim, with her kneeling by him as she might never kneel again. He had
called her by her name and his voice was very sad as he commended her to
God, asking that he would "be with our little Katy wherever she might
go, keeping her in all the mewandering scenes of life, and bringing her
at last to his own heavenly home."

Wilford himself was touched, and though he noticed the deacon's
pronunciation, he did not even smile, and his manner was very
respectful, when after the prayer over and they were alone, the
white-haired deacon felt it incumbent upon him to say a few words
concerning Katy.

"She's a young, rattle-headed creature, not much like your own kin, I
guess; but, young man, she is as dear as the apple of our eyes, and I
charge you to treat her well. She has never had a crossways word spoke
to her all her life, and don't you be the first to speak it, nor let
your folks browbeat her."

As they were alone, and it was easier for Wilford to be humble and
conciliatory, he promised all the old man required, and then went back
to Katy, going into raptures over the beautiful little Geneva watch
which Morris had just sent over as her bridal gift from him. Even Mrs.
Cameron herself could have found no fault with this, and Wilford praised
it as much as Katy could desire, noticing the inscription: "Katy, from
Cousin Morris, June 10th, 18--," wishing that after the "Katy" had come
the name Cameron, and wondering if Morris had any design in omitting it.
Wilford had not yet presented his father's gift, but he did so now, and
Katy's tears dropped upon the pale, soft pearls as she whispered: "I
shall like your father. I never thought of having things like these."

Nor had she, but she would grow to them very soon, while even the family
gathering around and sharing in her joy began to realize how great a
lady their Katy was to be. It was late that night ere anybody slept, if
sleep at all they did, which was doubtful, unless it were the bride, who
with Wilford's kisses warm upon her lips, crept up to bed just as the
clock was striking twelve, nor woke until it was again chiming for six,
and over her Helen bent, a dark ring about her eyes and her face very
white as she whispered: "Wake, Katy darling, this is your wedding day."



CHAPTER X.

MARRIAGE AT ST. JOHN'S.


There were more than a few lookers-on to see Katy Lennox married, and
the church was literally jammed for full three-quarters of an hour
before the appointed time. Back by the door, where she commanded a full
view of the middle aisle, Marian Hazelton sat, her face as white as
ashes, and her eyes gleaming strangely wild even from beneath the
thickly dotted veil she wore over her hat. Doubts as to her wisdom in
coming there were agitating her mind, but something kept her sitting
just as others sat waiting for the bride until the sexton, opening wide
the doors, and assuming an added air of consequence, told the anxious
spectators that the party had arrived--Uncle Ephraim and Katy, Wilford
and Mrs. Lennox, Dr. Morris and Helen, Aunt Hannah and Aunt Betsy--that
was all, and they came slowly up the aisle, while countless eyes were
turned upon them, every woman noticing Katy's dress sweeping the carpet
with so long a trail, and knowing by some queer female instinct that it
was city-made, and not the handiwork of Marian Hazelton, panting for
breath in that pew near the door, and trying to forget herself by
watching Dr. Grant. She could not have told what Katy wore; she would
not have sworn that Katy was there, for she saw only two, Wilford and
Morris Grant. She could have touched the former as he passed her by, and
she did breathe the odor of his garments while her hands clasped each
other tightly, and then she turned to Morris Grant, growing content with
her own pain, so much less than his as he stood before the altar with
Wilford Cameron between him and the bride which should have been his.
How pretty she was in her wedding garb, and how like a bird her voice
rang out as she responded to the solemn question:

"Will you have this man to be thy wedded husband?" etc.

Upon Uncle Ephraim devolved the duty of giving her away, a thing which
Aunt Betsy denounced as a "'Piscopal quirk," classing it in the same
category with dancing. Still if Ephraim had got it to do she wanted him
to do it well, and she had taken some pains to study that part of the
ceremony, so as to know when to nudge her brother in case he failed of
coming up to time.

"Now, Ephraim, now; they've reached the quirk," she whispered, audibly,
almost before Katy's "I will" was heard, clear and distinct; but Ephraim
did not need her prompting, and his hand rested lovingly upon Katy's
shoulder as he signified his consent, and then fell back to his place
next to Hannah. But when Wilford's voice said: "I, Wilford, take thee
Katy to be my wedded wife," there was a slight confusion near the door,
and those sitting by said to those in front that some one had fainted.

Looking around, the audience saw the sexton leading Marian Hazelton out
into the open air, where, at her request, he left her, and went hack to
see the closing of the ceremony which made Katy Lennox a wife. Morris'
carriage was at the door, and the newly married pair moved slowly out,
Katy smiling upon all, kissing her hand to some and whispering a good-by
to others, her diamond flashing in the light and her rich silk rustling
as she walked, while at her side was Wilford, proudly erect, and holding
his head so high as not to see one of the crowd around him, until
arrived at the vestibule he stopped a moment and was seized by a young
man with curling hair, saucy eyes, and that air of ease and assurance
which betokens high breeding and wealth.

"Mark Ray!" was Wilford's astonished exclamation, while Mark Ray
replied:

"You did not expect to see me here, neither did I expect to come until
last night, when I found myself in the little village where you know
Scranton lives. Then it occurred to me that as Silverton was only a few
miles distant I would drive over and surprise you, but I am too late for
the ceremony, I see," and Mark's eyes rested admiringly upon Katy, whose
graceful beauty was fully equal to what he had imagined.

Very modestly she received his congratulatory greeting, blushing
prettily when he called her by the new name she had not heard before,
and then at a motion from Wilford, entered the carriage waiting for her.
Close behind her came Morris and Helen, the former quite as much
astonished at meeting Mark as Wilford had been. There was no time for
conversation, and hurriedly introducing Helen as Miss Lennox, Morris
followed her into the carriage with the bridal pair, and was driven to
the depot, where they were joined by Mark, whose pleasant, good-humored
sallies did much toward making the parting more cheerful than it would
otherwise have been. It was sad enough at the most, and Katy's eyes were
very red, while Wilford was beginning to look chagrined and impatient,
when at last the train swept around the corner and the very last good-by
was said. Many of the village people were there to see Katy off, and in
the crowd Mark had no means of distinguishing the Barlows from the
others except it were by the fond caresses given to the bride. Aunt
Betsy he had observed from all the rest, both from the hanging of her
pongee and the general quaintness of her attire, and thinking it just
possible that it might be the lady of herrin' bone memory, he touched
Wilford's arm as she passed them by, and said:

"Tell me, Will, quick, who is that woman in the poke bonnet and short,
slim dress?"

Wilford was just then too much occupied in his efforts to rescue Katy
from the crowd of plebeians who had seized upon her to hear his friend's
query, but Helen heard it, and with a cheek which crimsoned with anger,
she replied:

"That, sir, is my aunt, Miss Betsy Barlow."

"I beg your pardon, I really do, I was not aware--" Mark began,
lifting his hat involuntarily, and mentally cursing himself for his
stupidity in not observing who was near to him before asking personal
questions.

With a toss of her head Helen turned away, forgetting her resentment
in the more absorbing thought that Katy was really leaving her.

The bell had rung, the heavy machinery groaned and creaked, and the long
train was under way, while from an open window a little white hand was
thrust, waving its handkerchief until the husband quietly drew it in,
experiencing a feeling of relief that all was over, and that unless he
chose, his wife need never go back again to that vulgar crowd standing
upon the platform and looking with tearful eyes and aching hearts after
the fast receding train.

For a moment Mark talked with Morris Grant, explaining how he came
there, and adding that on the morrow he, too, intended going on to
Boston, to remain for a few days before Wilford sailed; then, feeling
that he must in some way atone for his awkward speech regarding Aunt
Betsy, he sought out Helen, still standing like a statue and watching
the feathery line of smoke rising above the distant trees. Her bonnet
had partially fallen from her head, revealing her bands of rich brown
hair and the smooth, broad forehead, while her hands were locked
together, and a tear trembled on her dark eyelashes. Taken as a whole
she made a striking picture standing apart from the rest and totally
oblivious to them all, and Mark gazed at her a moment curiously; then as
her attitude changed and she drew her hat back to its place he advanced
toward her, and making some pleasant remark about the morning and the
appearance of the country generally. He knew he could not openly
apologize, but he made what amends he could by talking to her so
familiarly that Helen almost forgot how she hated him and all others who
like him lived in New York and resembled Wilford Cameron. It was Mark
who led her to the carriage which Morris said was waiting, Mark who
handed her in, smoothing down carefully the folds of her dress, and then
stood leaning against the door, chatting with Morris, who thought once
of asking him to enter and go back to Linwood. But when he remembered
how unequal he was to entertaining any one that day, he hesitated,
saying merely:

"On your way from Boston call and see me. I shall be glad of your
company then."

"Which means that you do not wish it now," Mark laughingly rejoined, as,
offering his hand to both Morris and Helen, he again touched his hat
politely and walked away.



CHAPTER XI.

AFTER THE MARRIAGE.


"Why did you invite him to Linwood?" Helen began. "I am sure we have
had city guests enough. Oh, if Wilford Cameron had only never come, we
should have had Katy now," and the sister-love overcame every other
feeling, making Helen cry bitterly as they drove back to the farmhouse.

Morris could not comfort her then, for he needed it the most, and so in
silence he left her and went on his way to Linwood, which seemed as if a
funeral train had left it, bearing away all Morris' life and love, and
leaving only a cheerless blank. It was well for him that there were many
sick ones on his list, for in attending to them he forgot himself in
part so that the day with him passed faster than at the farmhouse, where
life and its interests seemed suddenly to have stopped. Nothing had
power to rouse Helen, who never realized how much she loved her young
sister until now, when, with swelling heart she listlessly put to rights
the room which had been theirs so long, but which was now hers alone. It
was a sad task picking up that disordered chamber bearing so many traces
of Katy, and Helen's heart ached terribly as she hung away the little
pink calico dressing gown in which Katy had looked so pretty, and picked
up from the floor the pile of skirts lying just where they had been left
the previous night; but when it came to the little half-worn slippers
which had been thrown one here and another there as Katy danced out of
them, she could control herself no longer, and stopping in her work
sobbed bitterly: "Oh, Katy, Katy, how can I live without you?" But tears
could not bring Katy back, and knowing this, Helen dried her eyes ere
long and joined the family below, who like herself were spiritless and
sad.

It was some little solace to them all that day to follow Katy in her
journey, saying, she is at Worcester, or Framingham, or Newtown, and
when at noon they sat down to their dinner in the tidy kitchen, they
said: "She is in Boston," and the saying so made the time which had
elapsed since the morning seem interminable. Slowly the hours dragged,
and at last, before the sunsetting, Helen, who could bear the loneliness
of home no longer, stole across the fields to Linwood, hoping in Morris'
companionship to forget her own grief in part. But Morris was a sorry
comforter then. If the day had been sad to Helen, it had been doubly so
to him. He had ministered as usual to his patients, listening to their
complaints and answering patiently their inquiries; but amid it all he
walked as in a maze, hearing nothing except the words: "I, Katy, take
thee, Wilford, to be my wedded husband," and seeing nothing but the airy
little figure which stood up on tiptoe for him to kiss its lips at
parting. His work for the day was over now, and he sat alone in his
library when Helen came hurriedly in, staring at sight of his face, and
asking if he was ill.

"I have had a hard day's work," he said. "I am always tired at night,"
and he tried to smile and appear natural. "Are you very lonely at the
farmhouse?" he asked, and then Helen broke out afresh, mourning
sometimes for Katy, and again denouncing Wilford as proud and heartless.

"Positively, Cousin Morris," and Helen's eye flashed as she said it, "he
acted all the while he was in the church as if he were doing something
of which he was ashamed; and then did you notice how impatient he seemed
when the neighbors were shaking hands with Katy at the depot and bidding
her good-by? He looked as if he thought they had no right to touch her,
she was so much their superior, just because she had married him, and he
even hurried her away before Aunt Betsy had time to kiss her. And yet
the people think it such a splendid match for Katy, because he is so
rich and generous. Gave the clergyman fifty dollars and the sexton five,
so I heard; but that does not help him with me. I know it's wicked,
Morris, as well as you, but somehow I find myself taking real comfort
in hating Wilford Cameron."

"That is wrong, Helen, all wrong," and Morris tried to reason with her;
but his arguments this time were not very strong, and he finally said to
her, inadvertently: "If I can forgive Wilford Cameron for marrying our
Katy, you surely ought to do so, for he has hurt me the most."

"You, Morris! you, you!" Helen kept repeating, standing back still
further and further front him, while strange, overwhelming thoughts
passed like lightning through her mind as she marked the pallid face,
where was written since the morning more than one line of suffering,
and saw in the brown eyes a look such as they were not wont to wear.
"Morris, tell me--tell me truly--did you love my Sister Katy?" and with
an impetuous rush Helen knelt beside him, as, laying his head upon the
table he answered:

"Yes, Helen. God forgive me if it were wrong. I did love your Sister
Katy, and love her yet, and that is the hardest to bear."

All the tender, pitying woman was roused in Helen, and like a sister she
smoothed the locks of damp, dark hair, keeping a perfect silence as the
strong man, no longer able to bear up, wept like a very child. For a
time Helen felt as if bereft of reason, while earth and sky seemed
blended in one wild chaos as she thought: "Oh, why couldn't it have
been? Why didn't you tell her in time?" and at last she said to him;
"If Katy had known it! Oh, Morris, why didn't you tell her? She never
guessed it, never! If she had--if she had," Helen's breath came
chokingly: "I am very sure--yes, I know it might have been!"

"Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these--it might have been."

Morris involuntarily thought of these lines, but they only mocked his
sorrow as he answered Helen: "I doubt if you are right; I hope you are
not; hope that it might not have been, as it is not now. Katy loved me
as her brother, nothing more, I am confident. Had she waited till she
was older, God only knows what might have been, but now she is gone and
our Father will help me to bear, will help us both, if we ask him, as we
must."

And then as only he could do, Morris talked with Helen until she felt
her hardness toward Wilford giving way, while she wondered how Morris
could speak thus kindly of one who was his rival.

"Not of myself could I do it," Morris said; "but I trust in One who
says: 'As thy day shall thy strength be,' and He, you know, never
fails."

There was a fresh bond of sympathy now between Morris and Helen, and the
latter needed no caution against repeating what she had discovered. The
secret was safe with her, and by dwelling on what "might have been" she
forgot to think so much of what was, and so the first days after Katy's
departure were more tolerable than she had thought it possible for them
to be. At the close of the fourth there came a short note from Katy, who
was still in Boston at the Revere, and perfectly happy, she said, going
into ecstasies over her husband, the best in the world, and certainty
the most generous and indulgent. "Such beautiful things as I am having
made," she wrote, "when I already had more than I needed, and so I told
him, but he only smiled a queer kind of smile as he said: 'Very true;
you do not need them.' I wonder then why he gets me more. Oh, I forgot
to tell you how much I liked his cousin, Mrs. Harvey, who boards at the
Revere, and whom Wilford consults about my dress. I am somewhat afraid
of her, too, she is so grand, but she pets me a great deal and laughs at
my speeches. Mr. Ray is here too, and I think him splendid.

"By the way, Helen, I heard him tell Wilford that you had one of the
best shaped heads he ever saw, and that he thought you decidedly good
looking. I must tell you now of the only thing which troubles me in the
least, and I shall get used to that, I suppose. It is so strange Wilford
never told me a word until she came, my waiting maid. Think of that!
little Katy Lennox with a waiting maid, who jabbers French half the
time, for she speaks that language as well as her own, having been
abroad with the family once before. That is why they sent her to me;
they knew her services would be invaluable in Paris. Her name is Esther,
and she came the day after we did and brought me such a beautiful
mantilla from Wilford's mother, and the loveliest dress. Just the
pattern was fifty dollars, she said.

"The steamer sails in three days, and I will write again before that
time, sending it by Mr. Ray, who is to stop over one train at Linwood.
Wilford has just come in and says I have written enough for now, but
I will tell you how he has bought me a diamond pin and earrings, which
Esther, who knows the value of everything, says never cost less than
five hundred dollars.

"Yours, loving, KATY CAMERON."

"Five hundred dollars!" and Aunt Betsy held up her hands in horror,
while Helen sat a long time with the letter in her hand, cogitating upon
its contents, and especially upon the part referring to herself, and
what Mark Ray said of her.

Every human heart is susceptible of flattery, and Helen was not an
entire exception. Still with her ideas of city men she could not at once
think favorably of Mark Ray, just for a few complimentary words which
might or might not have been in earnest, and she found herself looking
forward with nervous dread to the time when he would stop at Linwood,
and of course call on her, as he would bring a letter from Katy.

Very sadly to the inmates of the farmhouse rose the morning of the day
when Katy was to sail, and as if they could really see the tall masts of
the vessel which was to bear her away, the eyes of the whole family were
turned often to the eastward with a wistful, anxious gaze, while on
their lips and in their hearts were earnest prayers for the safety of
that ship and the precious freight it bore. But hours, however sad, will
wear themselves away, and so the day went on, succeeded by the night,
until that too had passed and another day had come, the second of Katy's
ocean life. At the farmhouse the work was all done up, and Helen in her
neat gingham dress, with her bands of brown hair bound about her head,
sat listlessly at her sewing, when she was startled by the sound of
wheels, and looking up saw the boy employed to carry packages from the
express office, driving to their door with a trunk, which he said had
come that morning from Boston.

In some surprise Helen hastened to unlock it with the key which she
found appended to it. The trunk was full, and over the whole a linen
towel was folded, while on the top of that lay a letter in Katy's
handwriting, directed to Helen, who, sitting down upon the floor, broke
the seal and read aloud as follows:

"BOSTON, June--, Revere House,

"Nearly midnight.

"MY DEAR SISTER HELEN: I have just come in from a little party given by
one of Mrs. Harvey's friends, and I am so tired, for you know I am not
accustomed to such late hours. Wilford says I will get accustomed to
them, that in New York they are seldom in bed before eleven or twelve,
but I never shall. It will kill me, I am sure, and yet I rather enjoy
the sitting up if I did not feel so wretchedly next day. The party was
very pleasant indeed, and everybody was so kind to me, especially Mr.
Ray, who stood by me all the time, and who somehow seemed to help me, so
that I knew just what to do, and was not awkward at all. I hope not, at
least for Wilford's sake.

"You do not know how grand and dignified he is here in Boston among his
own set; he is so different from what he was in Silverton that I should
be afraid of him if I did not know how much he loves me. He shows that
in every action, and I am perfectly happy, except when I think that
to-morrow night at this time I shall be on the sea, going away from you
all. Here it does not seem far to Silverton, and I often look toward
home, wondering what you are doing, and if you miss me any. I wish I
could see you once before I go, just to tell you all how much I love
you--more than I ever did before, I am sure.

"And now I come to the trunk. I know you will be surprised at its
contents, but you cannot be more so than I was when Wilford said I must
pack them up and send them back--all the dresses you and Marion made."

"No, oh no," and Helen felt her strength leave her wrists in one sudden
throb as the letter dropped from her hand, while she tore off the linen
covering and saw for herself that Katy had written truly.

She could not weep then, but her face was white as marble as she again
took up the letter and commenced at the point where she had broken off.

       *       *       *       *       *

"It seems that people traveling in Europe do not need many things, but
what they have must be just right, and so Mrs. Cameron wrote for Mrs.
Harvey to see to my wardrobe, and if I had not exactly what was proper
she was to procure it. It is very funny that she did not find a single
proper garment among them all, when we thought them so nice. They were
not just the style, she said, and that was very desirable in Mrs.
Wilford Cameron. Somehow she tries to impress me with the idea that Mrs.
Wilford Cameron is a very different person from little Katy Lennox, but
I can see no difference except that I am a great deal happier and have
Wilford all the time.

"Well, as I was telling you, I was measured and fitted, and my figure
praised, until my head was nearly turned, only I did not like the horrid
stays they put on me, squeezing me up and making me feel so stiff. Mrs.
Harvey says no lady does without them, expressing much surprise that I
had never worn them, and so I submit to the powers that be; but every
chance I get here in my room I take them off and throw them on the
floor, where Wilford has stumbled over them two or three times.

"This afternoon the dresses came home, and they do look beautifully,
while every one has belt, and gloves, and ribbons, and sashes, and laces
or muslins to match--fashionable people are so particular about these
things. I have tried them on, and except that I think them too tight,
they fit admirably, and do give me a different air from what Miss
Hazelton's did. But I really believe I like the old ones best, because
you helped to make them; and when Wilford said I must send them home, I
went where he could not see me and cried, because--well, I hardly know
why I cried, unless I feared you might feel badly. Dearest Helen, don't,
will you? I love you just as much, and shall remember you the same as if
I wore the dresses. Dearest sister, I can fancy the look that will come
on your face, and I wish I could be present to kiss it away. Imagine me
there, will you? with my arms around your neck, and tell mother not to
mind. Tell her I never loved her so well as now, and that when I come
home from Europe I shall bring her ever so many things. There is a new
black silk for her in the trunk, and one for each of the aunties, while
for you there is a lovely brown, which Wilford said was just your style,
telling me to select as nice a silk as I pleased, and this he did I
think because he guessed I had been crying. He asked what made my eyes
so red, and when I would not tell him he took me with him to the silk
store and bade me get what I liked. Oh, he is the dearest, kindest
husband, and I love him all the more because I am the least bit afraid
of him.

"And now I must stop, for Wilford says so. Dear Helen, dear all of you,
I can't help crying as I say good-by. Remember little Katy, and if she
ever did anything bad, don't lay it up against her. Kiss Morris and
Uncle Ephraim, and say how much I love them. Darling sister, darling
mother, good-by."

       *       *       *       *       *

This was Katy's letter, and it brought a gush of tears from the four
women remembered so lovingly in it, the mother and the aunts stealing
away to weep in secret, without ever stopping to look at the new dresses
sent to them by Wilford Cameron. They were very soft, very handsome,
especially Helen's rich golden brown, and as she looked at it she felt a
thrill of satisfaction in knowing it was hers, but this quickly passed
as she took out one by one the garments she had folded with so much
care, wondering when Katy would wear each one and where she would be.

"She will never wear them, never--they are not fine enough for her now!"
she exclaimed, and as she just then came upon the little plaid, she laid
her head upon the trunk lid, while her tears dropped like rain in among
the discarded articles condemned by Wilford Cameron.

It seemed to her like Katy's grave, and she was still sobbing bitterly,
when a step sounded outside the window, and a voice called her name. It
was Morris, and lifting up her head Helen said, passionately:

"Oh, Morris, look! he has sent back all Katy's clothes, which you bought
and I worked so hard to make. They were not good enough for his wife to
wear, and so he insulted us. Oh, Katy, I never fully realized till now
how wholly she is lost to us!"

"Helen, Helen," Morris kept saying, trying to stop her, for close behind
him was Mark Ray, who heard her distinctly, and glancing in, saw her
kneeling before the trunk, her pale face stained with tears, and her
dark eyes shining with excitement.

Mark Ray understood it at a glance, feeling indignant at Wilford for
thus unnecessarily wounding the sensitive girl, whose expression, as she
sat there upon the floor, with her face upturned to Morris, haunted him
for months. Mark was sorry for her--so sorry that his first impulse was
to go quietly away, and so spare her the mortification of knowing that
he had witnessed that little scene; but it was now too late. As she
finished speaking her eye fell on him, and coloring scarlet she
struggled to her feet, and covering her face with her hands wept still
more violently. Mark was in a dilemma, and whispered softly to Morris:
"I think I had better leave. You can tell her all I had to say;" but
Helen heard him, and mastering her agitation she said to him:

"Please, Mr. Ray, don't go--not yet at least, not till I have asked you
of Katy. Did you see her off? Has she gone?"

Thus importuned, Mark Ray came in, and sitting down where his boot
almost touched the new brown silk, he very politely began to answer her
rapid questions, putting her entirely at her ease by his pleasant,
affable manner, and making her forget the littered appearance of the
room as she listened to his praises of her sister, who, he said, seemed
so very happy, attracting universal admiration wherever she went. No
allusion whatever was made to the trunk during the time of Mark's stay,
which was not long. If he took the next train to New York, he had but an
hour more to spend, and feeling that Helen would rather he should spend
it at Linwood he soon arose to go. Offering his hand to Helen, there
passed from his eyes into hers a look which had over her a strangely
quieting influence, and prepared her for a remark which otherwise might
have seemed out of place.

"I have known Wilford Cameron for years; he is my best friend, and I
respect him as a brother. In some things he may be peculiar, but he
will make your sister a kind husband. He loves her devotedly, I know,
choosing her from the throng of ladies who would gladly have taken her
place. I hope you will like him for my sake as well as Katy's."

His warm hand unclasped from Helen's, and with another good-by he was
gone, without seeing either Mrs. Lennox, Aunt Hannah or Aunt Betsy. This
was not the time for extending his acquaintance, he knew, and he went
away with Morris, feeling that the farmhouse, so far as he could judge,
was not exactly what Wilford had pictured it. "But then he came for a
wife, and I did not," he thought, while Helen's face came before him
as it looked up to Morris, and he wondered, were he obliged to choose
between the sisters, which he should prefer. During the few days passed
in Boston he had become more than half in love with Katy himself, almost
envying his friend the pretty little creature he had won. She was very
beautiful and very fascinating in her simplicity, but there was
something in Helen's face more attractive than mere beauty, and Mark
said to Morris as they walked along:

"Miss Lennox is not much like her sister."

"Not much, no; but Helen is a splendid girl--more strength of character,
perhaps, than Katy, who is younger than her years even. She has always
been petted from babyhood; it will take time or some great sorrow to
show what she really is."

This was Morris' reply, and the two then proceeded on in silence until
they reached the boundary line between Morris' farm and Uncle Ephraim's,
where they found the deacon mending a bit of broken fence, his coat
lying on a pile of stones, and his wide, blue cotton trousers hanging
loosely around him. When told who Mark was and that he brought news of
Katy, he greeted him cordially, and sitting down upon his fence listened
to all Mark had to say. Between the old and young man there seemed at
once a mutual liking, the former saying to himself as Mark went on, and
he resumed his work:

"I most wish it was this chap with Katy on the sea. I like his looks the
best," while Mark's thoughts were:

"Will need not be ashamed of that man, though I don't suppose I should
really want him coming suddenly in among a drawing-room full of guests."

Morris did not feel much like entertaining Mark, but Mark was fully
competent to entertain himself, and thought the hour spent at Linwood a
very pleasant one, half wishing for some excuse to tarry longer; but
there was none, and so at the appointed time he bade Morris good-by and
went on his way to New York.



CHAPTER XII.

FIRST MONTH OF MARRIED LIFE.


If Katy's letters, written, one on board the steamer and another from
London, were to be trusted, she was as nearly perfectly happy as a young
bride well can be, and the people at the farmhouse felt themselves more
and more kindly disposed toward Wilford Cameron with each letter
received. They were going soon into the northern part of England, and
from thence into Scotland, Katy wrote from London, and two weeks after
found them comfortably settled at the inn at Alnwick, near to Alnwick
Castle. Wilford had seemed very anxious to get there, leaving London
before Katy was quite ready to leave, and hurrying across the country
until Alnwick was reached. He had been there before, years ago, he said,
but no one seemed to recognize him, though all paid due respect to the
distinguished-looking American and his beautiful young wife. An entrance
into Alnwick Castle was easily obtained, and Katy felt that all her
girlish dreams of grandeur and magnificence were more than realized
here in this home of the Percys, where ancient and modern styles of
architecture and furnishing were so blended together. She would never
tire of that place, she thought, but Wilford's taste led him elsewhere,
and he took more delight, it would appear, in wandering around St.
Mary's Church, which stood upon a hill commanding a view of the castle
and of the surrounding country for miles away. Here Katy also came,
rambling with him through the village graveyard where slept the dust of
centuries, the gray, mossy tombstones bearing date backward for more
than a hundred years, their quaint inscriptions both puzzling and
amusing Katy, who studied them by the hour.

One quiet summer morning, however, when the heat was unusually great,
she felt too listless to wander about, and so sat upon the grass,
listening to the birds as they sang above her head, while Wilford, at
some distance from her, stood leaning against a tree and thinking sad,
regretful thoughts, as his eye rested upon the rough headstone at his
feet.

"Genevra Lambert, aged twenty-two," was the lettering upon it, and as he
read it a feeling of reproach was in his heart, while he said: "I hope I
am not glad to know that she is dead."

He had come to Alnwick for the sole purpose of finding that humble
grave, of assuring himself that after life's fitful fever, Genevra
Lambert slept quietly, forgetful of the wrong once done to her by him.
It is true he had not doubted her death before, but as seeing was
believing, so now he felt sure of it, and plucking from the turf above
her a little flower growing there, he went back to Katy and sitting down
beside her with his arm around her waist, tried to devise some way of
telling her what he had promised himself he would tell her there in that
very yard, where Genevra was buried. But the task was harder now than
before. Katy was so happy with him, trusting his love so fully that he
dared not lift the veil and read to her that page hinted at once before
in Silverton, when they sat beneath the butternut tree, with the fresh
young grass springing around them. Then, she was not his wife, and the
fear that she would not be if he told her all had kept him silent, but
now she was his alone; nothing could undo that, and there, in the shadow
of the gray old church through whose aisles Genevra had been borne out
to where the rude headstone was gleaming in the English sunlight, it
seemed meet that he should tell her sad story. And Katy would have
forgiven him then, for not a shadow of regret had darkened her life
since it was linked with his, and in her perfect love she could have
pardoned much. But Wilford did not tell. It was not needful; he made
himself believe--not necessary for her ever to know that once he met a
maiden called Genevra, almost as beautiful as she, but never so beloved.
No, never. Wilford said that truly, when that night he bent over his
sleeping Katy, comparing her face with Genevra's, and his love for her
with his love for Genevra.

"That was a boyish fancy, this love of mature years," and Wilford
pressed a kiss upon Katy's pure forehead, showing so white in the
moonlight.

Wilford was very fond of his girlish wife and very proud of her, too,
when strangers paused, as they often did, to look back after her. Thus
far nothing had arisen to mar the happiness of his first weeks of
married life; nothing except the letters from Silverton, over which Katy
always cried, until he sometimes wished that the family could not write.
But they could and they did; even Aunt Betsy inclosed in Helen's letter
a note, wonderful both in orthography and composition, and concluding
with the remark that she would be glad when Catherine returned and was
settled in a home of her own, as she would then have a new place to
visit.

There was a dark frown on Wilford's face, and for a moment he felt
tempted to withhold the note from Katy, but this he could not do then,
so he gave it into her hands, watching her as with burning cheeks, she
read it through, and asking her at its close why she looked so red.

"Oh, Wilford," and she crept closely to him, "Aunt Betsy spells so
queerly, that I was wishing you would not always open my letters first.
Do all husbands do so?"

It was the only time Katy had ventured to question a single act of his,
submitting without a word to whatever was his will. Wilford knew that
his father would never have presumed to break a seal belonging to his
mother, but he had broken Katy's and he should continue breaking them,
so he answered, laughingly;

"Why, yes, I guess they do. My little wife has surely no secrets to hide
from me?"

"No secrets," Katy answered, "only I did not want you to see Aunt
Betsy's letter, that's all."

"I did not marry Aunt Betsy--I married you," was Wilford's reply; which
meant far more than Katy guessed.

With three thousand miles between him and his wife's relatives, Wilford
could endure to think of them; but whenever letters came to Katy bearing
the Silverton postmark, he was conscious of a far different sensation
from what he experienced when the postmark was New York and the
handwriting that of his own family. But not in any way did this feeling
manifest itself to Katy, who, as she always wrote to Helen, was very,
very happy, and never more so, perhaps, than while they were at Alnwick,
where, as if he had something for which to atone, he was unusually kind
and indulgent, caressing her with unwonted tenderness, and making her
ask him once if he loved her a great deal more now than when they were
first married.

"Yes, darling, a great deal more," was Wilford's answer, as he kissed
her upturned face, and then went for the last time to Genevra's grave;
for on the morrow they were to leave the neighborhood of Alnwick for the
heather blooms of Scotland.

There was a trip to Edinburgh, a stormy passage across the Straits of
Dover, a two months' sojourn in Paris, and then they went to Rome, where
Wilford intended to pass the winter, journeying in the spring through
different parts of Europe. He was in no haste to return to America; he
would rather stay where he could have Katy all to himself, away from her
family and his own. But it was not so to be, and not very long after his
arrival at Rome there came a letter from his mother apprising him of his
father's dangerous illness, and asking him to come home at once. The
elder Cameron had not been well since Wilford left the country, and the
physician was fearful that the disease had assumed a consumptive form,
Mrs. Cameron wrote, adding that her husband's only anxiety was to see
his son again. To this there was no demur, and about the first of
December, six months from the time he had sailed, Wilford arrived in
Boston, having taken a steamer for that city. His first act was to
telegraph for news of his father, receiving a reply that he was better;
the alarming symptoms had disappeared, and there was now great hope of
his recovery.

"We might have stayed longer in Europe," Katy said, feeling a little
chill of disappointment--not that her father-in-law was better, but at
being called home for nothing, when her life abroad was so happy and
free from care.

Somehow the atmosphere of America seemed different from what it used
to be. It was colder, bluer, the little lady said, tapping her foot
uneasily and looking from her windows at the Revere out upon the snowy
streets, through which the wintry wind was blowing in heavy gales.

"Yes, it is a heap colder," she sighed, as she returned to the large
chair which Esther had drawn for her before the cheerful fire, charging
her disquiet to the weather once, never dreaming of imputing it to her
husband, who was far more its cause than was the December cold.

He, too, though glad of his father's improvement, was sorry to have been
recalled for nothing to a country which brought his old life back again,
with all its forms and ceremonies, reviving his dread lest Katy should
not acquit herself as was becoming Mrs. Wilford Cameron. In his
selfishness he had kept her almost wholly to himself, so that the polish
she was to acquire from her travels abroad was not as perceptible as,
now that he looked at her with his family's eyes, he could desire. Katy
was Katy still, in spite of London, Paris, or Rome. To be sure there
was about her a little more maturity and self-assurance, but in all
essential points she was the same; and Wilford winced as he thought how
the free, impulsive manner which, among the Scottish hills, where there
was no one to criticise, had been so charming to him, would shock his
lady mother and Sister Juno. And this it was which made him moody and
silent, replying hastily to Katy when she said to him: "Please, Wilford,
telegraph to Helen to be with mother at the West depot when we pass
there to-morrow. The train stops five minutes, you know, and I want to
see them so much. Will you, Wilford?"

She had come up to him now, and was standing behind him, with her hands
upon his shoulder; so she did not see the expression of his face as he
answered quickly;

"Yes, yes."

A moment after he quitted the room, and it was then that Katy, standing
before the window, charged the day with what was strictly Wilford's
fault. Returning at last to her chair she went off into a reverie as to
the new home to which she was going and the new friends she was to meet,
wondering much what they would think of her, and wondering most if they
would like her. Once she had said to Wilford:

"Which of your sisters shall I like best?"

And Wilford had answered her by asking:

"Which do you like best, books or going to parties in full dress?"

"Oh, parties and dress," Katy had said, and Wilford had then rejoined:

"You will like Juno best, for she is all fashion and gayety, while
Bluebell prefers her books and the quiet of her own room."

Katy felt afraid of Bell, and in fact, now that they were so near, she
felt afraid of them all, notwithstanding Esther's assurances that they
could not help loving her. During the six months they had been together
Esther had learned to feel for her young lady that strong affection
which sometimes exists between mistress and servant. Everything which
she could do for her she did, smoothing as much as possible the meeting
which she also dreaded, for though the Camerons were too proud to
express before her their opinion of Wilford's choice, she had guessed it
readily, and pitied the young wife brought up with ideas so different
from those of her husband's family. More accustomed to Wilford's moods
than Katy, she saw that something was the matter, and it prompted her to
unusual attentions, stirring the fire into a still more cheerful blaze
and bringing a stool for Katy, who in blissful ignorance of her
husband's real feelings, sat waiting his return from the telegraph
office, whither she supposed he had gone, and building pleasant pictures
of to-morrow's meeting with her mother and Helen, and possibly Dr.
Morris, if not Uncle Ephraim himself.

The voyage home had been long and wearisome, and Katy, who had suffered
from seasickness, was feeling jaded and tired, wishing, as she told
Esther, that instead of going to New York direct she could go straight
to the farmhouse and "rest on mother's bed," that receptacle for all her
childish ills.

"I mean to ask Wilford if I may," she said to herself, and her cheeks
grew brighter as she thought of really going home to mother and Helen
and the kind old people who would pet and love her so much.

So absorbed was she in her reverie as not to hear Wilford's step as he
came in, but when he stood behind her and took her head playfully
between his hands, she started up, feeling that the weather had changed;
it was not as cold and dreary in Boston as she imagined, neither did
mother's bed seem as desirable a place to rest upon as the shoulder
where she laid her head, playing with Wilford's buttons, and saying to
him at last:

"You went out to telegraph, didn't you?"

He had gone out with the intention of telegraphing as she desired, but
in the hall below he had met with an old acquaintance who talked with
him so long that he entirely forgot his errand until Katy recalled it to
his mind, making him feel very uncomfortable as he frankly told her of
his forgetfulness.

"It is too late now," he added; "besides you could only see them for a
moment, just long enough to make you cry--a thing I do not greatly
desire, inasmuch as I wish my wife to look her best when I present her
to my family, and with red eyes she couldn't, you know."

Katy knew it was settled, and choking back her tears she tried to
listen, while Wilford, having fairly broken the ice with regard to his
family, told her how anxious he was that she should make a good first
impression upon his mother. Did Katy remember that Mrs. Morey whom they
met at Paris, and could she not throw a little of her air into her
manner--that is, could she not drop her girlishness when in the presence
of others and be a little more dignified? When alone with him he liked
to have her just what she was, a loving, affectionate little wife, but
the world looked on such things differently. Would Katy try?

Wilford, when he commenced, had no definite idea as to what he should
say, and without meaning it he made Katy moan piteously:

"I don't know what you mean. I would do anything if I knew how. Tell me,
how shall I be dignified?"

She was crying so hard that Wilford, while mentally calling himself a
fool and a brute, could only try to comfort her, telling her she need
not be anything but what she was--that his mother and sisters would love
her just as he did--and that daily association with them would teach her
all that was necessary.

Katy's tears were stopped at last; but the frightened, anxious look did
not leave her face, even though Wilford tried his best to divert her
mind. A nervous terror of her new relations had gained possession of her
heart, and nearly the entire night she lay awake, pondering in her mind
what Wilford had said, and thinking how terrible it would be if he
should be disappointed in her after all. The consequence of this was
that a very white, tired face sat opposite Wilford next morning at the
breakfast served in their private parlor; nor did it look much fresher
even after they were in the cars and rolling out of Boston. But when
Worcester was reached, and the old home waymarks began to grow familiar,
the color came stealing back, until the cheeks burned with an unnatural
red, and the blue eyes fairly danced as they rested on the hills of
Silverton.

"Only three miles from mother and Helen! Oh, if I could go there!" Katy
thought, working her fingers nervously; but the express train did not
pause there, and it went so swiftly by the depot that Katy could hardly
discover who was standing there, whether friend or stranger.

But when at last they came to West Silverton, and the long train slowly
stopped, the first object she saw was Dr. Morris, driving down from the
village. He had no intention of going to the depot, and only checked his
horse a moment, lest it should prove restive if too near the engine; but
when a clear young voice called from the window: "Morris! oh, Cousin
Morris! I've come!" his heart gave a great heavy throb, for he knew
whose voice that was and whose the little hand beckoning to him. He had
supposed her far away beneath Italian skies, for at the farmhouse no
intelligence had been received of her intended return, and in much
surprise he reined up to the rear door, and throwing his lines to a boy,
went forward to where Katy stood, her face glowing with delight as she
flew into his arms, wholly forgetful of the last night's lecture on
dignity, also forgetful of Wilford, standing close beside her. He had
not tried to hold her back when, at the sight of Morris, she sprang away
from him; but he followed after, biting his lip, and wishing she had a
little more discretion. Surely it was not necessary to half strangle Dr.
Grant as she was doing, kissing his hand even after she had kissed his
face a full half dozen times, and all the people looking on. But Katy
did not care for people. She only knew that Morris was there--the Morris
whom, in her great happiness abroad, she had perhaps slighted by not
writing directly to him but once. In Wilford's sheltering care she had
not felt the need of this good cousin, as she used to do; but she was so
glad to see him, wondering why he looked so thin and sad. Was he sick?
she asked, gazing up into his face with a pitying look, which made him
shiver as he answered:

"No, not sick, though tired, perhaps, as I have at present an unusual
amount of work to do."

And this was true--he was usually busy. But that was not the cause of
the thin face, which others than Katy remarked. Helen's words: "It might
have been," spoken to him on the night of Katy's bridal, had never left
his mind, much as he had tried to dislodge them. Some men can love a
dozen times; but it was not so with Morris. He could overcome his love
so that it should not be a sin, but no other could ever fill the place
where Katy had been; and as he looked along the road through life he
felt that he must travel it alone. Truly, if Katy were not yet passing
through the fire, he was, and it had left its mark upon him, purifying
as it burned, and bringing his every act into closer submission to his
God. Only Helen and Marian Hazelton interpreted aright that look upon
his face, and knew it came from the hunger of his heart, but they kept
silence; while others said that he was working far too hard, urging him
to abate his unwearied labors, for they would not lose their young
physician yet. But Morris smiled his patient, kindly smile on all their
fears and went his way, doing his work as one who knew he must render
strict account for the popularity he was daily gaining, both in his own
town and those around. He could think of Katy now without a sin, but he
was not thinking of her when she came so unexpectedly upon him, and for
an instant she almost bore his breath away in her vehement joy.

Quick to note a change in those he knew, he saw that her form was not
quite so full, nor her cheeks so round; but she was weary with the
voyage, she said, and knowing how seasickness will wear upon one's
strength, Morris imputed it wholly to that, and believed she was, as
she professed to be, perfectly happy.

"Come, Katy, we must go now," Wilford said, as the bell rang its first
alarm, and the passengers, some with sandwiches and some with fried
cakes in their hands, ran back to find their seats.

"Yes, I know, but I have not asked half I meant to. Oh, how I want to go
home with you, Morris," Katy exclaimed, again throwing her arms around
the doctor's neck as she bade him good-by, and sent fresh messages of
love to the friends at home, who, had they known she was to be there at
that time, would have walked the entire distance for the sake of looking
once more into her dear face.

"I intended to have brought them heaps of things," she said, "but we
came home so suddenly I had no time. Here, take Helen this. Tell her
it is real," and the impulsive creature drew from her finger a small
diamond set in black enamel, which Wilford had bought in Paris. "She did
not need it; she had two more, and she was sure Wilford would not mind,"
she said, turning to him for his approbation.

But Wilford did mind, and his face indicated as much, although he tried
to be natural as he replied: "Certainly, send it if you like."

In her excitement Katy did not observe it, but Morris did, and he at
first declined taking it, saying Helen had no use for it and would be
better pleased with something not half as valuable. Katy, however,
insisted, appealing to Wilford, who, ashamed of his first emotion, now
seemed quite as anxious as Katy herself, until Morris placed the ring
in his purse, and then bade Katy hasten or she would certainly be left.
One more wave of the hand, one more kiss thrown from the window, and the
train moved on, Katy feeling like a different creature for having seen
some one from home.

"I am so glad I saw him--so glad I sent the ring, for now they will know
I am the same Katy Lennox, and I think Helen sometimes feared I might
get proud with you," she said, while Wilford pulled her rich fur around
her, smiling to see how bright and pretty she was looking since that
meeting with Dr. Grant. "It was better than medicine," Katy said, when
beyond Springfield he referred to it a second time, and leaning her head
upon his shoulder she fell into a refreshing sleep, from which she did
not waken until New York was reached, and Wilford, lifting her gently
up, whispered to her: "Come, darling, we are home at last."



CHAPTER XIII.

KATY'S FIRST EVENING IN NEW YORK.


The elder Cameron was really better, and more than once he had regretted
recalling his son, who he knew had contemplated a longer stay abroad.
But that could not now be helped; Wilford had arrived in Boston, as
his telegram of yesterday announced--he would be at home to-day; and
No ---- Fifth Avenue was all the morning and a portion of the afternoon
the scene of unusual excitement, for both Mrs. Cameron and her daughters
wished to give the six months' wife a good impression of her new home.
At first they thought of inviting company to dinner, but to this the
father objected. "Katy should not be troubled the first day," he said;
"it was bad enough for her to meet them all; they could ask Mark if they
chose, but no one else."

And so only Mark Ray was invited to the dinner, gotten up as elaborately
as if a princess had been expected instead of little Katy, trembling in
every joint, when, about four P.M., Wilford awoke her at the depot and
whispered: "Come, darling, we are home at last."

"Why do you shiver so?" he asked, wrapping her cloak around her, and
almost lifting her from the car.

"I don't--know. I guess--I'm cold," and Katy drew a long breath as she
thought of Silverton and the farmhouse, wishing so much that she was
going into its low-walled kitchen, where the cook-stove was, and where
the chairs were all splint-bottomed, instead of into the handsome
carriage, where the cushions were so soft and yielding, and the whole
effect so grand.

She knew it was the Cameron carriage, for Wilford had said it would meet
them; but she had not expected it to be just what it was, and she bowed
humbly to the polite coachman greeting Wilford and herself so
respectfully. "What would our folks say?" she kept repeating to herself
as she drove along the streets, where they were beginning to light the
street lamps, for the December day was dark and cloudy. It seemed so
like a dream that she, who once had picked huckleberries on the
Silverton hills, and bound coarse, heavy shoes to buy herself a pink
gingham dress, should now be riding in her carriage toward the home
which she knew was magnificent; and Katy's tears fell like rain as,
nestling close to Wilford, who asked what was the matter, she whispered:
"I can hardly believe that it is I--it is so unreal."

"Please don't cry," Wilford rejoined, brushing her tears away. "You know
I don't like your eyes to be red."

With a great effort, Katy kept her tears back, and was very calm when
they reached the brownstone front, far enough uptown to save it from
the slightest approach to plebeianism from contact with its downtown
neighbors. In the hall the chandelier was burning, and as the carriage
stopped a flame of light seemed suddenly to burst from every window as
the gas heads were turned up, so that Katy caught glimpses of rich
silken curtains and costly lace as she went up the steps, clinging to
Wilford and looking ruefully around for Esther, who had disappeared
through the basement door. Another moment and they stood within the
marbled hall, Katy conscious of nothing definite--nothing but a vague
consciousness of refined elegance, and that a handsome, richly-dressed
lady came out to meet them, kissing Wilford quietly, and calling him her
son--that the same lady later turned to her, saying, kindly: "And this
is my new daughter?"

Then Katy came to life, and did that at the very thought of which she
shuddered when a few months' experience had taught her the temerity of
the act--she wound her arms impulsively around Mrs. Cameron's neck,
rumpling her point lace collar, and sadly displacing the coiffeur of the
astonished lady, who had seldom received so genuine a greeting as that
which Katy gave her, kissing her lips and whispering softly: "I love you
now, because you are Wilford's mother, but by and by because you are
mine. And you will love me some because I am his wife."

Wilford was horrified, particularly when he saw how startled his mother
looked as she tried to release herself and adjust her tumbled headgear.
It was not what he had hoped, nor what his mother had expected, for she
was unaccustomed to such demonstrations; but under the circumstances
Katy could not have done better. There was a tender spot in Mrs.
Cameron's heart, and Katy touched it, making her feel a throb of
affection for the childish creature suing for her love.

"Yes, darling, I love you now," she said, removing Katy's clinging arms
and taking care that they should not enfold her a second time. "You are
tired and cold," she continued; "you had better go at once to your
rooms. You will find them in order, and I will send Esther up. There is
plenty of time to dress for dinner," and with a wave of her hand she
dismissed Katy up the stairs, noticing as she went the exquisite
softness of her fur cloak; but thinking it too heavy a garment for her
slight figure, and noticing, too, the graceful ankle and foot which the
little high-heeled gaiter showed to good advantage. "I did not see her
face distinctly, but she has a well-turned instep and walks easily," was
the report she carried to her daughters, who in their own room, over
Katy's, were dressing for dinner.

"She will undoubtedly make a good dancer, then, unless like Dr. Grant,
she is too blue for that," Juno said, while Bell shrugged her shoulders,
congratulating herself that she had a mind above such frivolous matters
as dancing and well-turned insteps, and wondering if Katy cared in the
least for books.

"Couldn't you see her face at all, mother?" Juno asked.

"Scarcely; but the glimpse I did get was satisfactory. I think she is
pretty."

And this was all the sisters could ascertain until their toilets were
finished, and they went down into the library, where their brother
waited for them. He had seen his father and Jamie, and now he arose to
meet his sisters, kissing them both affectionately, and complimenting
them on their good looks.

"I wish we could say the same of you," saucy Juno answered, playfully
pulling his mustache; "but, upon my word, Will, you are fast settling
down into an oldish married man, even turning gray," and she ran her
fingers through his dark hair, where there was now and then a thread of
silver. "Disappointed in your domestic relations, eh?" she continued,
looking him archly in the face.

Wilford was rather proud of his good looks, and during his sojourn
abroad, Katy had not helped him any in overcoming this weakness, but, on
the contrary, had fed his vanity by constant flattery. And still he was
himself conscious of not looking quite as well as usual just now, for
the sea voyage had tired him as well as Katy, but he did not care to be
told of it, and Juno's ill-timed remarks aroused him at once,
particularly as they reflected somewhat on Katy.

"I assure you I am not disappointed," he answered, "and the six months
of my married life have been the happiest I ever knew. Katy is more than
I expected her to be."

Juno elevated her eyebrows slightly, but made no direct reply, while
Bell began to ask about Paris and the places he had visited.

Meanwhile Katy had been ushered into her room, which was directly over
the library and separated from Mrs. Cameron's only by a range of closets
and presses, a portion of which were to be appropriated to her own use.
Great pains had been taken to make her rooms attractive, and as the
large bay window in the library below extended to the third story, it
was really the pleasantest chamber in the house. To Katy it was perfect,
and her first exclamation was one of delight.

"Oh, how pleasant, how beautiful," she cried, skipping across the soft
carpet to the warm fire blazing in the grate. "A bay window, too, when I
like them so much, and such handsome curtains and furniture. I shall be
happy here."

But happy as she was, Katy could not help feeling tired, and she sank
into one of the luxurious easy-chairs, wishing she could stay there all
the evening, instead of going down to that formidable dinner with her
new relations. How she dreaded it, especially when she remembered that
Mrs. Cameron had said there would be plenty of time to dress, a thing
which Katy hated, the process was so tiresome, particularly to-night.
Surely, her handsome traveling dress, made in Paris, was good enough,
and she was about settling in her own mind to venture upon wearing it,
when Esther demolished her castle at once.

"Wear your traveling habit!" she exclaimed, "when the young ladies,
especially Miss Juno, are so particular about their dinner costume?
There would be no end to the scolding I should get for suffering it. So
there's no help, you see," and she began good-naturedly to remove her
mistress' collar and pin, while Katy, standing up, sighed as she said;
"I wish I was in Silverton to-night. I could wear anything there. What
must I put on? How I dread it!" and she began to shiver again.

Fortunately for Katy, Esther had been in the family long enough to know
just what they regarded as proper, as by this means the dress selected,
a delicate pearl-colored silk was sure to please. It was very becoming
to Katy, and having been made in Paris, was not open to criticism.
Esther's taste was perfect, so that Katy was never over-dressed, and she
was very simple and pretty this night, with the rich, soft lace around
her neck and around her white, plump arms, where the golden bands were
shining.

"Very pretty, indeed," was Mrs. Cameron's verdict when at half-past five
she knocked at the door and then came in to see her daughter, kissing
her cheek and stroking her head, wholly unadorned, except by the short,
silken curls which could not be coaxed to grow faster than they chose,
and which had sometimes annoyed Wilford. They made his wife seem so
young beside him. Mrs. Cameron was annoyed, too, for she had no idea
of a head, except as it was connected with a hairdresser, and her
annoyance showed itself as she asked:

"Did you have your hair cut on purpose?"

But when Katy explained, she answered, pleasantly:

"Never mind; it is a fault which will mend every day, only it makes you
look like a child."

"I am eighteen and a half," Katy said, feeling a lump rising in her
throat, for she guessed that her mother-in-law was not quite pleased
with her hair.

For herself, she liked it; it was so easy to brush and fix. She should
go wild if she had to submit to all Esther had told her of hairdressing
and what it involved.

Mrs. Cameron had asked if she would not like to see Mr. Cameron, the
elder, before going down to dinner, and Katy had answered that she
would; so as soon as Esther had smoothed a refractory fold and brought
her handkerchief, she followed to the room where Wilford's father was
sitting. He might not have felt complimented could he have known that
something in his appearance reminded Katy of Uncle Ephraim. He was not
nearly as old or as tall, nor was his hair as white, but the
resemblance, if there were any, lay in the smile with which he greeted
Katy, calling her his youngest child, and drawing her closely to him.

It was remarked of Mr. Cameron that since their babyhood he had never
kissed one of his own children; but when Katy, who looked upon such a
salutation as a matter of course, put up her rosy lips, making the first
advance, he could not resist them, and he kissed her twice. Hearty,
honest kisses they were, for the man was strongly drawn toward the young
girl, who said to him, timidly:

"I am glad to have a father--mine died before I could remember him. May
I call you so?"

"Yes, yes; God bless you, my child," and Mr. Cameron's voice shook as he
said it, for neither Bell nor Juno were wont to address him just as Katy
did--Katy, standing close to him, with her hand upon his shoulder and
her kiss yet fresh upon his lips.

She had already crept a long way into his heart, and he took her hand
from his shoulder and holding it between his own, said to her:

"I did not think you were so small or young. You are my little
daughter, my baby, instead of my son's wife. How do you ever expect
to fulfill the duties of Mrs. Wilford Cameron?"

"It's my short hair, sir. I am not so young," Katy answered, her eyes
filling with tears as she began to wish back the heavy braids which
Helen cut away when the fever was at its height.

"Never mind, child," Mr. Cameron rejoined, playfully. "Youth is no
reproach; there's many a one would give their right hand to be young
like you. Juno, for instance, who is--"

"Hus-band!" came reprovingly from Mrs. Cameron, spoken as only she could
speak it, with a prolonged buzzing sound on the first syllable, and
warning the husband that he was venturing too far.

"It is time to go down if Mrs. Cameron sees the young ladies before
dinner," she said, a little stiffly; whereupon her better half startled
Katy with the exclamation:

"Mrs. Cameron! Thunder and lightning, wife, call her Katy, and don't go
into any nonsense of that kind."

The lady reddened, but said nothing until she reached the hall, when she
whispered to Katy, apologetically:

"Don't mind it. He is rather irritable since his illness, and sometimes
makes use of coarse language."

Katy had been a little frightened at the outburst, but she liked Mr.
Cameron, notwithstanding, and her heart was lighter as she went down to
the library, where Wilford met her at the door, and taking her on his
arm led her in to his sisters, holding her back as he presented her,
lest she should assault them as she had his mother. But Katy felt no
desire to hug the tall, queenly girl whom Wilford introduced as Juno,
and whose large, black eyes seemed to read her through as she offered
her hand and very daintily kissed her forehead, murmuring something
about a welcome to New York. Bell came next, broad-faced,
plainer-looking Bell, who yet had many pretentions to beauty, but whose
manner, if possible, was frostier, cooler, than her sister's. Of the
two, Katy liked Juno best, for there was about her a flash and sparkle
very fascinating to one who had never seen anything of the kind and did
not know that much of this vivacity was the result of patient study and
practice. Katy would have known they were high-bred, as the world
defines high breeding, and something in their manner reminded her of the
ladies she had seen abroad, ladies in whose veins lordly blood was
flowing. She could not help feeling uncomfortable in their presence,
especially as she felt that Juno's black eyes were on her constantly.
Not that she could ever meet them looking at her, for they darted away
the instant hers were raised, but she knew just when they returned to
her again, and how closely they were scanning her.

"Your wife looks tired, Will. Let her sit down," Bell said, herself
wheeling the easy-chair nearer to the fire, while Wilford placed Katy in
it; then, thinking she would get on better if he were not there, he left
the room, and Katy was alone with her new sisters.

Juno had examined her dress and found no fault with it, simply because
it was Parisian make; while Bell had examined her head, deciding that
there might be something in it, though she doubted it, but that, at all
events, short hair was very becoming to it, showing all its fine
proportions, and half deciding to have her own locks cut away. Juno had
a similar thought, wondering if it were the Paris fashion, and if she
would look as young in proportion as Katy did were her hair worn on her
neck.

With their brother's departure, the tongues of both the girls were
loosened, and standing near to Katy, they began to question her of what
she had seen, Juno asking if she did not hate to leave Italy, and did
not wish herself back again. Wholly truthful, Katy answered: "Oh, yes,
I was very sorry, I would rather be there than here."

"Complimentary to us, very," Bell murmured audibly in French, blushing
as Katy's eyes were lifted quickly to hers, and she knew she was
understood.

If there was anything which Katy liked more than another in the way of
study, it was French. She had excelled in it at Canandaigua, and while
abroad had taken great pains to acquire a pure pronunciation, so that
she spoke it with a good deal of fluency, and readily comprehended Bell.

"I did not mean to be rude," she said, earnestly. "I liked Italy so
much, and we expected to stay longer; but that does not hinder my liking
to be here. I hope I did not offend you."

"Certainly not; you are an honest little puss," Bell replied, placing
her hand caressingly upon the curly head laying back so wearily on the
chair. "Here in New York we have a bad way of not telling the whole
truth, but you will soon be used to it."

"Used to not telling the truth! Oh, I hope not!" and this time the blue
eyes lifted so wonderingly to Bell's face had in them a startled look.

"Simpleton," was Juno's comment, while Bell's was: "I rather like the
child," as she continued to smooth the golden curls and wound them
around her finger, wondering if Katy had a taste for metaphysics, that
being the last branch of science which she had taken up.

"I suppose you will find Will a pattern husband," Juno said, after a
moment's pause, and Katy replied: "There never could be a better, I am
sure, and I have been very happy."

"Has he never said one cross word to you in all these six months?" was
Juno's next question, to which Katy answered, truthfully: "Never."

"And lets you do as you please?"

"Yes, just as I please," Katy replied, while Juno continued: "He must
have changed greatly, then, from what he used to be; but marriage has
probably improved him. He tells you all his secrets, too, I presume?"

Anxious that Wilford should appear well in every light, Katy replied at
random: "Yes, if he has any."

"Well, then," and in Juno's black eyes there was a wicked look, "perhaps
you will tell me who was or is the original of that picture he guards so
carefully?"

"What picture?" and Katy looked up inquiringly, while Juno, with a
little sarcastic laugh, continued: "Oh, he has not told you, then. I
thought he would not, he seemed so angry and annoyed when he saw me with
it once three or four years ago. I found it in his room, where he had
accidentally left it, and was looking at it when he came in. It was the
picture of a young girl, who must have been very beautiful, and I did
not blame Will for loving her, if he ever did, but he need not have been
so indignant at me for wishing to know who it was. I never saw him so
angry or so much disturbed. I hope you will ferret the secret out and
tell me, for I have a great deal of curiosity, fancying that picture
had something to do with his remaining so long a bachelor. I do not mean
that he does not love you," she added, as she saw how white Katy grew.
"It is not to be expected that a man can live to be thirty without
loving more than one. There was Sybil Grey, a famous belle, whom I
thought at one time he would marry; but when Judge Grandon offered she
accepted, and Will was left in the lurch. I do not really believe he
cared, though, for Sybil was too much of a flirt to suit his jealous
lordship, and I will do him the justice to say that, however many
fancies he may have had, he likes you best of all," and this Juno felt
constrained to say because of the look in Katy's face, a look which
warned her that in her thoughtlessness she had gone too far and pierced
the young wife's heart with a pang as cruel as it was unnecessary.

Bell had tried to stop her, but she had rattled on until now it was too
late, and she could not recall her words, however much she might wish to
do so. "Don't tell Will," she was about to say, when Will himself
appeared, to take Katy out to dinner. Very beautiful and sad were the
blue eyes which looked up at him so wistfully, and nothing but the
remembrance of Juno's words, "He likes you best of all," kept Katy from
crying outright, when he took her hand, passing it between his own and
asking if she was tired.

"Let us try what dinner will do for you," he said, and in silence Katy
went with him to the pleasant dining-room, where the glare and the
ceremony bewildered her, bringing a homesick feeling as she thought of
Silverton, contrasting the elegance around her with the plain tea table,
graced with the mulberry set instead of the costly china before her.

Never had Katy felt so embarrassed in her life as she did this night,
when seated for the first time at dinner in her husband's home, with all
those criticising eyes upon her, as she knew they were. She had been
very hungry, but her appetite was gone, and she almost loathed the rich
food offered her, feeling so glad when the dinner was ended, and Wilford
asked if she would go then to Jamie's room. He was sitting in his
wheel-chair when they went in, and his eyes turned eagerly toward them,
lighting up with pleasure when Wilford said: "This is your Aunt Katy.
You will love each other, I am sure."

That they would love each other was very apparent from the kisses Katy
pressed upon his lips, and the way in which his arms clung around her
neck as he said: "I am glad you have come, Aunt Katy, and you will tell
me of the good doctor. He is your cousin, Uncle Wilford says."

With Jamie Katy was perfectly at her ease. There was some affinity
between him and herself, and she was glad when Wilford left them alone,
as he wisely did, going back to where his mother and sisters were freely
discussing his bride, his mother calling her a mere child, who would
improve, and Juno saying she had neither manner nor style, while Bell
offered no opinion, except that she was pretty. A part of these
criticisms Wilford heard, and they made his blood tingle, for he had
great faith in their opinions, even though he sometimes savagely
combated them, and into his heart there crept a slight feeling of
dissatisfaction toward Katy, now kneeling on the floor by Jamie's side,
and with her head almost in his lap, talking to him of Morris Grant,
whose very name had a strange power to soothe her.

"You don't seem like an aunt," Jamie said at last, smoothing her short
hair; "you look so like a girl. I wonder, must I call you so? I guess
I must, though, for Uncle Will told me to, and we all mind him, grandma
and all! Do you?" and the child looked curiously at her.

Had Jamie's question been put to her two weeks ago, she would have
hesitated in her answer, and even now she had not waked to the fact that
in all essential points her husband's wish was the law she could not
help obey, but she replied, laughingly: "Yes, I mind him," while Jamie
continued: "I love him so much, and he loves us and you. I heard him
tell grandma so, and by his voice I knew he was in earnest. He never
loved any one half so well before, he said, not even--somebody--I forget
who--a funny name it was."

Katy felt almost as if she were doing wrong, but remembering what Juno
had said of Sybil Grey, she faintly asked:

"Was Sybil the name?"

Jamie hardly thought it was. It seemed more like some town; still, it
might have been, he said, and Katy's heart grew lighter, for Juno's idle
words had troubled her, and Sybil Grey most of all; but if her husband
now loved her best, she did not care so much; and when Wilford came for
her to join them in the parlor, he found her like herself both in looks
and spirits. Mark Ray had been obliged to decline Mr. Cameron's
invitation to dinner, but he was now in the library, Wilford said, and
Katy was glad, for she remembered how he had helped her during that week
of gayety in Boston, when society was so new to her. As he had been
then, so he was now, and his friendly, respectful manner put Katy as
much at her ease as it was possible for her to be in the presence of
Wilford's mother and sisters, who watched her so narrowly.

"I suppose you have not seen your Sister Helen? You know I called there,
of course?" Mark said to Katy; but before she could reply, a pair of
black eyes shot a keen glance at the luckless Mark, and Juno's sharp
voice said, quickly: "Called on her! When, pray? I did not know you had
the honor of Miss Lennox's acquaintance."

Mark was in a dilemma. He had kept his call at Silverton to himself, as
he did not care to be questioned about Katy's family; and now, when it
accidentally came out, he tried to make some evasive reply, pretending
that he had spoken of it, and Juno had forgotten. But Juno knew better,
and from that night dated a strong feeling of dislike, almost hatred,
for Helen Lennox, whom she affected to despise, even though she could be
jealous of her. Wisely changing the conversation, Mark asked Katy next
to play, and as she seldom refused, she went at once to the piano,
astonishing both Mrs. Cameron and her daughters with the brilliancy of
her performance. Even Juno complimented her, saying she must have taken
lessons very young.

"When I was ten," Katy answered. "Cousin Morris gave me my first
exercises himself. He plays sometimes."

"Yes, I knew that," Juno replied. "Does your sister play as well as
you?"

Katy knew that Helen did not, and she answered frankly: "Morris thinks
she does not. She is not as fond of it as I am." Then feeling that she
must in some way make amends for Helen, she added: "But she knows a
great deal more than I do about books. Helen is very smart."

There was a smile on every lip at this ingenuous remark, but only Mark
and Bell liked Katy the better for it. Wilford did not care to have her
talking of her friends, and he kept her at the piano until she said her
fingers were tired, and begged leave to stop.

It was late ere Mark bade them good-night; so late that Katy began to
wonder if he would never go, yawning once so perceptibly that Wilford
gave her a reproving glance, which sent the hot blood to her face and
drove from her every feeling of drowsiness. Even after he had gone the
family were in no haste to retire, but sat chatting with Wilford until
the city clock struck twelve and Katy was actually nodding in her chair.

"Poor child, she is very tired," Wilford said, apologetically, gently
waking Katy, who, really mortified, begged them to excuse her, and
followed her husband to her room, where she was free to ask him what she
must ask before she could ever be quite as happy as she had been before.

Notwithstanding what Jamie had said, Juno's words kept recurring to her
mind, and going up to the chair where Wilford was sitting before the
fire, and standing partly behind him, she said, timidly: "Will you
answer me one thing truly?"

Alone with Katy, Wilford felt all his old tenderness returning, and
drawing her into his lap, he asked her what it was she wished to know.

"Did you love anybody three or four years ago, or ever--that is, love
them well enough to wish to make them your wife?"

Katy could feel how Wilford started, as he said: "What put that idea
into your head? Who has been talking to you?"

"Juno," Katy answered. "She told me she believed that it was some other
love which kept you a bachelor so long. Was it, Wilford?" and Katy's
lips quivered in a grieved kind of way as she put the question.

"Juno be--"

Wilford did not say what, for he seldom swore, and never in a lady's
presence, even if the lady were his wife. So he said, instead:

"It was very unkind in Juno to distress you thus with matters about
which she knew nothing."

"But did you?" Katy asked again. "Was there not a Sybil Grey, or some
one of that name?"

At mention of Sybil Grey, Wilford looked relieved, and answered her at
once:

"Yes, there was a Sybil Grey, Mrs. Judge Grandon now, and a dashing
widow. Don't sigh so wearily," he continued, as Katy drew a gasping
breath. "Knowing she was a widow, I chose you, thus showing which I
preferred. Few men live to be thirty without more or less fancies, which
under some circumstances might ripen into something stronger, and I am
not an exception. I never loved Sybil Grey, nor wished to make her my
wife. I admired her very much. I admire her yet, and among all my
acquaintances there is not one upon whom I would care to have you make
so good an impression as upon her, nor one whose manner you could better
imitate."

"Oh, will she call? Shall I see her?" Katy asked, beginning to feel
alarmed at the very thought of Sybil Grey, with all her polish and
manner.

"She is spending the winter in New Orleans with her late husband's
relatives. She will not return till spring," Wilford replied. "But do
not look so distressed, for I tell you solemnly that I never loved
another as I love you, my wife. Do you believe me?"

"Yes," and Katy's head drooped upon his shoulder.

She was satisfied with regard to Sybil Grandon, only hoping she would
not have to meet her when she came home. But the picture. Whose was
that? Not Sybil's certainly, else Juno would have known. The picture
troubled her, but she dared not speak of it, Wilford had seemed so angry
at Juno. Still, she would probe him a little further, and so she
continued:

"I do believe you, and if I ever see this Sybil I will try to imitate
her; but tell me, if, after her, there was among your friends one better
than the rest, one almost as dear as I am, one whom you sometimes
remember even now--is she living, or is she dead?"

Wilford thought of that humble grave far off in St. Mary's churchyard,
the grave whose headstone bore the inscription: "Genevra Lambert, aged
22," and he answered quickly:

"If there ever was such a one, she certainly is not living. Are you
satisfied?"

Katy answered that she was, but perfect confidence in her husband's
affection had been terribly shaken by Juno's avowal and his partial
admission of an earlier love, and Katy's heart was too full to sleep,
even after she had retired. Visions of Sybil Grey, blended with visions
of another whom she called the "dead fancy," flitted before her mind, as
she lay awake, while hour after hour went by, until tired nature could
endure no longer, and just as the great city was waking up and the
rattle of wheels was beginning to be heard upon the distant pavements,
she fell away to sleep.



CHAPTER XIV.

EXTRACTS FROM BELL CAMERON'S DIARY.


NEW YORK, December--.

After German philosophy and Hamilton's metaphysics, it is a great relief
to have introduced into the family an entirely new element--a character
the dissection of which is at once a novelty and a recreation. It is
absolutely refreshing, and I find myself returning to my books with
increased vigor after an encounter with that simple-hearted,
unsophisticated, innocent-minded creature, our sister-in-law, Mrs.
Wilford Cameron. Such pictures as Juno and I used to draw of the stately
personage who was one day coming to us as Wilford's wife, and of whom
even mother was to stand in awe. Alas! how hath our idol fallen! Tell it
not in Gath, nor yet in Gotham! And still I rather like the little
creature, who, the very first night, nearly choked mother to death,
giving her lace streamers a most uncomfortable twitch, and actually
kissing father--a thing I have not done since I can remember. But, then,
with the exception of Will and Jamie, the Camerons are all a set of
icicles, encased in a refrigerator at that. If we were not, we should
thaw out, when Katy leans on us so affectionately and looks up at us so
wistfully, as if pleading for our love. Wilford does wonders; he used to
be so grave, so dignified and silent, that I never supposed he would
bear having a wife meet him at the door with cooing and kisses, and
climbing into his lap right before us all. Juno says it makes her sick,
while mother is dreadfully shocked; and even Will sometimes seems
annoyed, gently shoving her aside and telling her he is tired.

After all, it is a query in my mind whether it is not better to be like
Katy than like Sybil Grandon, about whom Juno was mean enough to tell
her the first day of her arrival. On the whole, I would rather be Katy,
but better yet, would prefer remaining myself, Bell Cameron, the happy
medium between the two extremes, of art perfected and nature in its
primeval state, just as it existed among the Silverton hills. From my
own standpoint, I can look on and criticise, giving my journal the
benefit of my criticisms and conclusions.

Very pretty, but shockingly insipid, is Juno's verdict upon Mrs.
Wilford, while mother says less, but looks a great deal more, especially
when she talks about "my folks," as she did to Mrs. General Reynolds the
very first time she called. Mother and Juno were so annoyed, while Will
looked like a thundercloud, particularly when she spoke of Uncle
Ephraim, saying so and so. He was better satisfied with Katy in Europe,
where he was not known, than he is here, where he sees her with other
people's eyes. One of his weaknesses is a too great reverence for the
world's opinion, as held and expounded by our very fashionable mother,
and as in a quiet kind of way she has arrayed herself against poor Katy,
while Juno is more open in her acts and sayings. I predict that it will
not be many months before he comes to the conclusion that he has made a
mesalliance, a thing of which no Cameron was ever guilty.

I wonder if there is any truth in the rumor that Mrs. General Reynolds
once taught a district school, and if she did, how much would that
detract from the merits of her son, Lieutenant Bob. But what nonsense to
be writing about him. Let me go back to Katy, who has no more idea of
etiquette than Jamie in his wheel-chair. Still, there is something very
attractive about her, and Mrs. General Reynolds took to her at once,
petting her as she would a kitten, and laughing merrily at her naive
speeches, as she called them--speeches which made Will turn black in the
face, they betrayed so much of rustic life and breeding. I fancy that he
has given Katy a few hints, and that she is beginning to be somewhat
afraid of him, for she watches him constantly when she is talking, and
she does not now slip her hand into his as she used to when guests are
leaving and she stands at his side; neither is she quite so
demonstrative when he comes up from the office at night, and there is a
look upon her face which was not there when she came. They are taming
her down, mother and Juno, and to-morrow they are actually going to
commence a systematic course of training, preparatory to her _début_
into society, said _début_ to occur on the night of the ----, when Mrs.
General Reynolds gives the party talked about so long. I was present
when they met in solemn conclave to talk it over, mother asking Will if
he had any objections to Juno's instructing his wife with regard to
certain things of which she was ignorant. Will's forehead knit itself
together at first, and I half hoped he would veto the whole proceedings,
but after a moment he replied:

"No, providing Katy is willing. Her feelings must not be hurt."

"Certainly not," mother said. "Katy is a dear little creature, and we
all love her very much, but that does not blind us to her deficiencies,
and as we are anxious that she should fill that place in society which
Mrs. Wilford Cameron ought to fill, it seems necessary to tone her down
a little before her first appearance at a party."

To this Will assented, and then Juno went on to enumerate her
deficiencies, which, as nearly as I can remember, are these: She laughs
too much and too loud; is too enthusiastic over novelties, conducting as
if she never saw anything before; has too much to say about Silverton
and "my folks," quotes Uncle Ephraim and Sister Helen too often, and is
even guilty at times of mentioning a certain Aunt Betsy, who must have
floated with the Ark and snuffled the breezes of Ararat. She does not
know how to enter, or cross, or leave a room properly, or receive an
introduction; or, in short, do anything according to New York ideas as
understood by the Camerons, etc.; she is to be taught--toned down,
mother called it--dwelling upon her high spirits as something vulgar, if
not absolutely wicked. How father would have sworn, for he calls her his
little sunbeam, and says he never should have gained so fast if she had
not come with her sunny face and lively, merry laugh to cheer his
sickroom. Katy has a fast friend in him and Jamie. But mother and
Juno--well, I shall be glad if they do not annihilate her altogether,
and I am surprised that Will allows it. I wonder if Katy is really happy
with us? She says she is, and is evidently delighted with New York life,
clapping her hands when the invitation to Mrs. Reynolds' party was
received, and running with it to Wilford as soon as he came home. It is
her first big party, she says, she having never attended any except that
little sociable in Boston, and those insipid schoolgirl affairs at the
seminary. I may be conceited--Juno thinks I am--but really and truly,
Bell Cameron's private opinion of herself is that at heart she is better
than the rest of her family, and so I pity this little sister of ours,
while at the same time I am exceedingly anxious to be present whenever
Juno takes her in hand, for I like to see the fun. Were she at all
bookish, I should avow myself her champion, and openly defend her; but
she is not, and so I give her into the hands of the Philistines, hoping
they will at least spare her hair and not worry her life out on that
head. It is very becoming to her, and several young ladies have
whispered their intention of trying its effect upon themselves, so that
Katy may yet be a leader of the fashion.



CHAPTER XV.

TONING DOWN.


_Bell's Diary Continued_.

Such fun as it was to see mother and Juno training Katy, showing her how
to enter the parlor, how to arrange her dress, how to carry her hands
and feet, and how to sit in a chair--Juno going through with the
performance first, and then requesting Katy to imitate her, which I must
say she did to perfection, even excelling her teacher, inasmuch as she
is naturally very easy and graceful. Had I been Katy I should have
rebelled, but she is far too sweet-tempered and anxious to please, while
I half suspect that fear of my lord Wilford had something to do with it,
for when the drill was over, she asked so earnestly if we thought he
would be ashamed of her, and there were tears in her great blue eyes as
she said it. Hang Wilford! Hang the whole of them! I am not sure but I
shall espouse her cause myself, or else tell father, who will do it so
much better.

Dec.--th.--Another drill, with Juno commanding officer, while the
poor little private seemed completely worried out. This time there were
open doors, but so absorbed were mother and Juno as not to hear the
bell, and just as Juno was saying, "Now, imagine me Mrs. General
Reynolds, to whom you are being presented," while Katy was bowing almost
to the floor, who should appear but Mark Ray, stumbling square upon that
ludicrous rehearsal, and of course bringing it to an end. No explanation
was made, nor was any needed, for Mark's face showed that he understood
it, and it was as much as he could do to keep from roaring with
merriment; I am sure he pitied Katy, for his manner toward her was very
affectionate and kind, and when once she left the room he complimented
her highly, repeating many things he had heard in her praise from those
who had seen her both in the street and here at home. Juno's face was
like a thundercloud, for she was as much in love with Mark Ray as she
was once with Dr. Grant, and is even jealous of his praise of Katy. Glad
am I that I never yet saw the man who could make me jealous, or for whom
I cared a pin. There's Bob Reynolds up at West Point. I suppose I do
think his epaulettes very becoming to him, but his hair is too light and
he cannot raise whiskers big enough to cast a shadow on the wall, while
I know he looks with contempt upon females who write, even though their
writings never see the light of day; thinks them strong-minded,
self-willed, and all that. He is expected to be present at the party,
but I shall not be. I had rather stay at home and finish that article
entitled "Women of the Present Century," and suggested to my mind by my
Sister Katy, who stands for the picture I am drawing of a pretty woman,
with more heart than brains, contrasting her with such a one as Juno,
her opposite extreme.

January 10.--The last time I wrote in my journal was just before the
party, which is over now, the long-talked-of affair at which Katy was
the reigning belle. I don't know how it happened, but happen it did, and
Juno's glory faded before that of her rival, whose merry, ringing laugh
frequently penetrated to every room, and made more than one look up in
some surprise. But when Mrs. Humphreys said: "It's that charming little
Mrs. Cameron, the prettiest creature I ever saw, her laugh is so
refreshing and genuine," the point was settled, and Katy was free to
laugh as loudly as she pleased.

She did look beautiful, in lace and pearls, with her short hair curling
on her neck. She would not allow us to put so much as a bud in her hair,
showing in this respect a willfulness we never expected; but as she was
perfectly irresistible, we suffered her to have her way, and when she
was dressed, sent her in to father, who had asked to see her. And now
comes the strangest thing in the world.

"You are very beautiful, little daughter," father said. "I almost wish
I was going with you to see the sensation you are sure to create."

Then straight into his lap climbed Katy--father's lap--where none of us
ever sat, I am sure, and began to coax him to go, telling him she should
appear better if he were there, and that she should need him when
Wilford left her, as of course he must a part of the time. And father
actually dressed himself and went. But Katy did not need him after the
people began to understand that Mrs. Wilford Cameron was the rage. Even
Sybil Grey, in her palmiest days, never received such homage as was paid
to the little Silverton girl, whose great charm was her perfect
enjoyment of everything, and her perfect faith in what people said to
her. Juno was nothing, and I worse than nothing, for I did go, wearing
a plain black silk, with high neck and long sleeves, looking, as Juno
said, like a Sister of Charity. But Bell Cameron can afford to dress
plainly if she chooses, and I am glad, as it saves a deal of trouble,
and somehow people seem to like me quite as well in my Quakerish dress
as they do the fashionable Juno in diamonds and flowers, with uncovered
neck and shoulders.

Lieutenant Bob was there; his light hair lighter than ever, and his
chin as smooth as my hand. He likes to dance, and I do not, but somehow
he persisted in staying where I was, notwithstanding that I said my
sharpest things in hopes to get rid of him. He left me at last to
dance with Katy, who makes up in grace and airiness what she lacks in
knowledge. Once upon the floor, she did not lack for partners, but, I
verily believe, danced every set, growing prettier and fairer as she
danced, for hers is a complexion which does not get red and blowsy with
exercise.

Mark Ray was there, too, and I saw him smile comically when Katy met the
people with that bow she was making at the time he came so suddenly upon
us. Mark is a good fellow, and I really think we have him to thank in a
measure for Katy's successful _début_. He was the first to take her from
Wilford, walking with her up and down the hall by way of reassuring her,
and once as they passed me I heard her say:

"I feel so timid here--so much afraid of doing something
wrong--something countrified."

"Never mind," he answered. "Act yourself just as you would were you
at home in Silverton, where you are known. That is far better than
affecting a manner not natural to you."

After that Katy brightened wonderfully. The stiffness which at first
was perceptible passed off, and she was Katy Lennox, queening it over
all the city belles, who, because she was married, would not be
jealous--drawing after her a host of gentlemen, and between the sets
holding a miniature court at one end of the room, where the more
desirable of the guests crowded around; flattering her until her little
head ought to have been turned if it was not. To do her justice, she
bore her honors well, and when we were in the carriage, and father
complimented her upon her success, she only said:

"If I pleased you all I am glad."

So many calls as we had the next day, and so many invitations as there
are now on our table for Mrs. Wilford Cameron, while our opera box
between the scenes is packed with beaus, until one would suppose Wilford
might be jealous; but Katy takes it all so quietly and modestly, seeming
only gratified for his sake, that I really believe he enjoys it more
than she does. At all events, he persists in her going, even when she
would rather stay at home, so if she is spoiled, the fault will rest
with him.

February--th.--Poor Katy. Dissipation is beginning to wear upon her,
for she is not accustomed to our late hours, and sometimes falls asleep
while Esther is dressing her. But go she must, for Wilford wills it so,
and she is but an automaton to do his bidding.

Why can't mother let her alone, when everybody seems so satisfied with
her? Somehow, she does not believe that people are as delighted as they
pretend, and so she keeps training and tormenting her until I do not
wonder that Katy sometimes hates to go out, lest she shall unconsciously
be guilty of an impropriety. I pitied her last night, when, after she
was ready for the opera, she came into my room, where I was indulging in
the luxury of a loose dressing gown, with my feet on the sofa. Latterly
she has taken to me, and now sitting down before the fire into which her
blue eyes looked with a steady stare, she said:

"I wish I might stay here with you to-night. I have heard this opera
before, and it will be so tiresome. I get so sleepy while they are
singing, for I never care to watch the acting. I did at first, when it
was new, but now it seems insipid to see them make-believe, while the
theatre is worse yet," and she gave a weary yawn.

In less than three months she has exhausted fashionable life, and I
looked at her in astonishment, asking what would please her if the opera
did not. What would she like?

Turning her eyes full upon me, she exclaimed:

"I do like it some, I suppose, only I get so tired. I like to ride, I
like to skate, I like to shop, and all that; but, oh, you don't know how
I want to go home to mother and Helen. I have not seen them for so long,
but I am going in the spring--going in May. How many days are there in
March and April? Sixty-one," she continued; "then I may safely say that
in eighty days I shall see mother, and all the dear old places. It is
not a grand home like this. You, Bell, might laugh at it. Juno would, I
am sure, but you do not know how dear it is to me, or how I long for a
sight of the huckleberry hills and the rocks where Helen and I used to
play, Helen is a darling sister, and I know you will like her."

Just then Will called to say the carriage was waiting, and Katy was
driven away, while I sat thinking of her and the devoted love with which
she clings to her home and friends, wondering if it were the kindest
thing which could have been done, transplanting her to our atmosphere,
so different from her own.

March 1st.--As it was in the winter, so it is now; Mrs. Wilford Cameron
is the rage--the bright star of society--which quotes and pets and
flatters, and even laughs at her by turns; and Wilford, though still
watchful, lest she should do something _outré_, is very proud of her,
insisting upon her accepting invitations, sometimes two for one evening,
until the child is absolutely worn out, and said to me once, when I told
her how well she was looking and how pretty her dress was: "Yes, pretty
enough, but I am so tired. If I could lie down on mother's bed, in a
shilling calico, just as I used to do!"

Mother's bed seems at present to be the height of her ambition--the
thing she most desires; and as Juno fancied it must be the feathers she
is sighing for, she wickedly suggests that Wilford either buy a feather
bed for his wife, or else send to that Aunt Betsy for the one which was
to be Katy's setting out! They go to housekeeping in May, and on Madison
Square, too, I think Wilford would quite as soon remain with us, for he
does not fancy change; but Katy wants a home of her own, and I never saw
anything more absolutely beautiful than her face when father said to
Wilford that No. ---- Madison Square was for sale, advising him to
secure it. But when mother intimated that there was no necessity for the
two families to separate at present--that Katy was too young to have
charge of a house--there came into her eyes a look of such distress that
it went straight to father's heart, and calling her to him, he said:

"Tell me, sunbeam, what is your choice--to stay with us, or have a home
of your own?"

Katy was very white, and her voice trembled as she replied:

"You have been kind to me here, and it is very pleasant; but I guess--I
think--I'm sure--I should like the housekeeping best. I am not so young,
either. Nineteen in July, and when I go home next month I can learn so
much of Aunt Betsy and Aunt Hannah."

Mother looked at Wilford then; but he was looking into the fire, with an
expression anything but favorable to that visit home, fixed now for
April instead of May. But Katy has no discernment, and believes she is
actually going home to learn how to make apple dumplings and pumpkin
pies. In spite of mother, the house is bought, and now she is gone all
day, deciding how it shall be furnished, always leaving Katy out of the
question, as if she were a cipher, and only consulting Wilford's choice.
They will be happier alone, I know. Mrs. General Reynolds says that it
is the way for young people to live; that her son's wife shall never
come home to her, for of course their habits could not be alike; and
then she looked queerly at me, as if she knew I was thinking of
Lieutenant Bob and who his wife might be.

Sybil Grandon is coming home in April or May, and Mrs. Reynolds wonders
will she flirt as she used to do. Just as if Bob would care for a widow.
There is more danger from Will, who thinks Mrs. Grandon a perfect
paragon, and who is very anxious that Katy may appear well before her,
saying nothing and doing nothing which shall in any way approximate to
Silverton and the shoes which Katy told Esther she used to bind when a
girl. Will need not be disturbed, for Sybil Grandon was never half as
pretty as Katy, or half as much admired. Neither need Mrs. General
Reynolds fret about Bob, as if he would care for her. Sybil Grandon,
indeed!



CHAPTER XVI.

KATY.


For nearly four months Katy had been in New York, drinking deep draughts
from the cup of folly and fashion held so constantly to her lips; but
she cloyed of it at last, and what at first had been so eagerly grasped,
began, from daily repetition, to grow insipid and dull. To be the belle
of every place, to know that her dress, her style, and even the fashion
of her hair, was copied and admired, was gratifying to her, because she
knew how much it pleased her husband, who was never happier or prouder
than when, with Katy on his arm, he entered some crowded parlor and
heard the buzz of admiration as it circled around, while Katy,
simple-hearted and guileless still, smiled and blushed like a little
child, wondering at the attentions lavished upon her, and attributing
them mostly to her husband, whose position she thoroughly understood,
marveling more and more that he should have chosen her to be his wife.
That he had so honored her made her love him with a strange kind of
grateful, clinging love, which as yet would acknowledge no fault in him,
no wrong, no error; and if ever a shadow did cloud her heart, she was
the one to blame, not Wilford; he was right--he the idol she
worshiped--he the one for whose sake she tried so hard to drop her
country ways and conform to the rules his mother and sister taught,
submitting with the utmost good-nature to what Bell in her journal had
called the drill, but it must be confessed not succeeding very well in
imitating Juno. Katy could hardly be other than her own easy, graceful
self, and though the drills had their effect, and taught her many
things, they could not divest her of that natural, playful, airy manner
which so charmed the city people and made her the reigning belle. As
Marian Hazleton had predicted, others than her husband had spoken words
of praise in Katy's ear; but such was her nature that the shafts of
flattery glanced aside, leaving her unharmed, so that her husband,
though sometimes startled and disquieted, had no cause for jealousy,
enjoying Katy's success far more than she did herself, urging her out
when she would rather have stayed at home, and evincing so much
annoyance if she ventured to remonstrate that she gave it up at last
and floated on with the tide.

Mrs. Cameron had at first been greatly shocked at Katy's want of
propriety, looking on aghast when she wound her arms around Wilford's
neck, or sat upon his knee; but to the elder Cameron the sight was a
pleasant one, bringing back sunny memories of a summer time years ago,
when he was young, and a fair bride had for a few brief weeks made this
earth a paradise to him. But fashion had entered his Eden--that summer
time was gone, and only the dim leaves of autumn lay where the buds
which promised so much had been. The girlish bride was a stately matron
now, doing nothing amiss, but making all her acts conform to a
prescribed rule of etiquette, and frowning majestically upon the
frolicsome, impulsive Katy, who had crept so far into the heart of
the eccentric man that he always found the hours of her absence long,
listening intently for the sound of her bounding footsteps, and feeling
that her coming to his household had infused into his veins a better,
healthier life than he had known for years. Katy was very dear to him,
and he felt a thrill of pain, while a shadow lowered on his brow when
first the toning down process commenced. He had heard them talk about
it, and in his wrath he had hurled a cut-glass goblet upon the marble
hearth, breaking it in atoms, while he called them a pair of precious
fools, and Wilford a bigger one because he suffered it. So long as his
convalescence lasted, he was some restraint upon his wife, but when he
was well enough to resume his duties in his Wall Street office, there
was nothing in the way, and Katy's education progressed accordingly. For
Wilford's sake, Katy would do anything, and as from some things he had
dropped she guessed that her manner was not quite what suited him, she
submitted to much which would otherwise have been excessively annoying.
But she was growing tired now, and it told upon her face, which was
whiter than when she came to New York, while her figure was, if
possible, slighter and more airy; but this only enhanced her loveliness,
Wilford thought, and so he paid no heed to her complaints of weariness,
but kept her in the circle which welcomed her so warmly, and would have
missed her so much.

Little by little it had come to Katy that she was not quite as
comfortable in her husband's family as she would be in a house of her
own. The constant watch kept over her by Mrs. Cameron and Juno irritated
and fretted her, making her wonder what was the matter, and why she
should so often feel lonely and desolate when surrounded by every luxury
which wealth could purchase. "It is his folks," she always said to
herself when cogitating upon the subject. "Alone with Wilford I shall
feel as light and happy as I used to do in Silverton."

And so Katy caught eagerly at the prospect of a release from the
restraint of No. ----, seeming so anxious that Wilford, almost before he
was aware of it himself, became the owner of one of the most desirable
situations on Madison Square; and Katy was the envy of the belles, who
had copied and imitated her, even to the cutting off their hair, which
fashion may be fairly said to have originated from Katy herself, whose
short curls had ceased to be obnoxious to the fastidious Mrs. Cameron,
for Juno had tried the effect, looking, as Bell said, "like a fool,"
while Juno would have given much to have again the long black tresses,
the cutting of which did not make her look like Katy. Of all the
household, after Katy, Juno was perhaps the only one glad of the new
house. It would be a change for herself, for she meant to spend much
of her time on Madison Square, where everything was to be on the most
magnificent scale. Fortunately for Katy, she knew nothing of Juno's
intentions and built many a castle of her new home, where mother could
come with Helen and Dr. Grant. Somehow she never saw Uncle Ephraim, nor
his wife, nor yet Aunt Betsy there. She knew how out of place they would
appear, and how they would annoy Wilford: but surely to her mother and
Helen there could be no objection, and when she first went over the
house, she designated mentally this room as mother's, and another one as
Helen's, thinking how each should be fitted up with direct reference to
their tastes, Helen's containing a great many books, while her mother's
should have easy-chairs and lounges, with a host of drawers for holding
things. And Wilford heard it all, making no reply, but considering how
he could manage best so as to have no scene, for he had not the
slightest intention of inviting either Mrs. Lennox or Helen to visit
him, much less to become a part of his household. That he did not marry
Katy's relatives was a fact as fixed as the laws of the Medes and
Persians, and Katy's anticipations were answering no other purpose than
to divert her mind for the time being, keeping her bright and cheerful.

Very pleasant indeed were the pictures Katy drew of the new house where
Helen was to come, but pleasanter far were her pictures of that visit to
Silverton, to occur in April, and about which she thought so much,
dreaming of it many a night, and waking in the morning with the belief
that she had actually been where the young buds were swelling and the
fresh grass was springing by the door. Poor Katy, how much she thought
about that visit when she should see them all and go again with Uncle
Ephraim down into the meadows, making believe she was Katy Lennox
still--when she could climb the ladder in the barn after new-laid eggs,
or steal across the fields to Linwood, talking with Morris as she used
to talk in the days which seemed so long ago. Morris she feared was not
liking her as well as of old, thinking her very frivolous and silly, for
he had only written her one short note in reply to the letter she had
sent, telling him of the opera, the parties she attended, and the gay,
happy life she led, for to him she would not then confess that in her
cup of joy there was a single bitter dreg. All was bright and fair, she
said, and Morris had replied that he was glad. "But do not forget that
death can find you even there amid your splendor, or that after death
the judgment comes, and then what shall it profit you if you gain the
whole world and lose your own soul."

These words had rung in Katy's ears for many a day, following her to
the dance and to the opera, where even the music was drowned by the
echo of the words, "lose your own soul." But the sting grew less and
less, till Katy no longer felt it, and now was only anxious to talk with
Morris and convince him that she was not as thoughtless as he might
suppose, that she still remembered his teachings, remembered the Sunday
school and the little church in the valley, preferring it to the
handsome, aristocratic house where she went with the Camerons once on
every Sunday, and would willingly go twice if Wilford would go with her.
But the Camerons were merely fashionable churchgoers, and so their
afternoons were spent at home, Katy enjoying them vastly because she
usually had Wilford all to herself in her own room, a thing which did
not often occur during the weekdays.

There was a kind of peace to be made with Helen, too, Katy feared; for
Helen had sent back the diamond ring, saying it was not suitable for
her, but never hinting that she had drawn from Morris the inference that
Wilford was not well pleased at having his wife thus dispose of his
costly presents. Katy had cried when she received the ring, feeling that
something was wrong and longing so much for the time when she could make
it right.

"One more week and then it is April," she said to Wilford one evening
after they had retired to their room, and she was talking of Silverton.
"I guess I had better go about the tenth. Shall you stay as long as I
do?"

Wilford bit his lip, and after a moment replied:

"I have been talking with mother, and we think April is not a good time
for you to be in the country; it is so wet and cold. You had better not
till summer, and then I want you here to help order our furniture."

"Oh, Wilford," and Katy's voice trembled, for from past experience
she knew that for Wilford to object to her plans was equivalent to
a refusal, and her heart throbbed with disappointment as she tried
to listen while Wilford urged many reasons why she should not go,
convincing her at last that of all times for visiting Silverton spring
was the worst, that summer or autumn were better, and that it was her
duty to remain where she was until such time as he saw fit for her to
do otherwise.

This was the meaning of what he said, and though his manner was guarded
and his words kind, they were very conclusive, and with one gasping sob
Katy gave up Silverton, charging it more to Mrs. Cameron than to
Wilford, and writing next day to Helen that she could not come just
then, but after she was settled they might surely expect her.

With a bitter pang Helen read this letter to the three women who had so
much anticipated Katy's visit, and each of whom cried quietly over her
disappointment, while even Uncle Ephraim went back to his work that
afternoon with a sad, heavy heart, for now his labor was not lightened
by thoughts of Katy's being there so soon.

"Please God she may come to us some time," he said, pausing beneath the
butternut in the meadow, and remembering just how Katy looked on that
first day of her return from Canandaigua, when she sat on the flat stone
while he piled up the hay and talked with her of different paths through
life, one of which she must surely tread.

She had said, "I will choose the straight and pleasant," and some would
think she had; but Uncle Ephraim was not so sure, and leaning against a
tree, he asked silently that, whether he ever saw his darling again or
not, God would care for her and keep her unspotted from the world.



CHAPTER XVII.

THE NEW HOUSE.


It was a cruel thing for Wilford Cameron to try thus to separate Katy
from the hearts which loved her so much: and, as if he felt reproached,
there was an increased tenderness in his manner toward her, particularly
as he saw how sad she was for a few days after his decision. But Katy
could not be sorry long, and in the excitement of settling the new house
her spirits rallied, and her merry laugh thrilled like a bird through
the rooms where the workmen were so busy, and where Mrs. Cameron was the
real superintendent, though there was always a show of consulting Katy,
who nevertheless was a mere cipher in the matter. In everything the
mother had her way, until it came to the room designed for Helen, and
which Mrs. Cameron was for converting into a kind of smoking or lounging
room for Wilford and his associates. Katy must not expect him to be
always as devoted to her as he had been during the winter, she said. He
had a great many bachelor friends, and now that he had a house of his
own, it was natural that he should have some place where they could
spend an hour or so with him without the restraint of ladies' society,
and this was just the room--large, airy, quiet, and so far from the
parlors that the odor of the smoke could not reach them.

"Oak and green will do nicely here," turning to Wilford, "but you must
have some very handsome cigar sets, and one or two boxes of chess. Shall
I see to that?"

Katy had submitted to much without knowing that she was submitting; but
something Bell had dropped that morning had awakened a suspicion that
possibly she was being ignored, and the wicked part of Helen would have
enjoyed the look in her eye as she said, decidedly, not to Mrs. Cameron,
but to Wilford: "I have from the very first decided this chamber for
Helen, and I cannot give it up for a smoking room. You never had one
at home. Why did you not, if it is so necessary?"

Wilford could not tell her that his mother would as soon have brought
into her house one of Barnum's shows as to have had a room set apart for
smoking, which she specially disliked; neither could he at once reply at
all, so astonished was he at this sudden flash of spirit. Mrs. Cameron
was the first to rally, and in her usual quiet tone she said: "Indeed, I
did not know that your sister was to form a part of your household. When
do you expect her?" and her cold gray eyes rested steadily upon Katy,
who never before so fully realized the distance there was between her
husband's friends and her own. But as the worm will turn when trampled
on, so Katy, though hitherto powerless to defend herself, aroused in
Helen's behalf, and in a tone as quiet and decided as that of her
mother-in-law, replied: "She will come whenever I write for her. It was
arranged from the first. Wasn't it, Wilford?" and she turned to her
husband, who, unwilling to decide between a wife he loved and a mother
whose judgment he considered infallible, affected not to hear her, and
stole from the room, followed soon by Mrs. Cameron, so that Katy was
left mistress of the field.

After that no one interfered in her arrangement of Helen's room, which,
with far less expense than Mrs. Cameron would have done, she fitted up
so cosily that Wilford pronounced it the pleasantest room in the house,
while Bell went into ecstasies over it, and even Juno might have unbent
enough to praise it, were it not that Mark Ray, who from being tacitly
claimed by Juno was frequently admitted to their counsels, had asked
the privilege of contributing to Helen's room a handsome volume of
German poetry, such as he fancied she might enjoy. So long as Mark's
attentions were not bestowed in any other quarter Juno was comparatively
satisfied, but the moment he swerved a hair's breadth from the line she
had marked out, her anger was aroused; and now, remembering his
commendations of Helen Lennox, she hated her as cordially as one jealous
girl can hate another whom she has not seen, making Katy so
uncomfortable, without knowing what was the matter, that she hailed the
morning of her exit from No. ---- as the brightest since her marriage.

It was a very happy day for Katy, and when she first sat down to dinner
in her own handsome home her face shone with a joy which even the
presence of her mother-in-law could not materially lessen. She would
rather have been alone with Wilford, it is true, but as her choice was
not consulted she submitted cheerfully, proudly taking her rightful
place at the table, and doing the honors so well that Mrs. Cameron, in
speaking of it to her daughters, acknowledged that Wilford had little to
fear if Katy always appeared as much at ease as she did that day. A
thought similar to this passed through the mind of Wilford, who was very
observant of such matters, and that night, after his mother was gone, he
warmly commended Katy, but spoiled the pleasure his commendation would
have given by telling her next, as if one thought suggested the other,
that Sybil Grandon had returned, that he saw her on Broadway, accepting
her invitation to a seat in her carriage which brought him to his door.
She had made many inquiries concerning Katy, he said, expressing a great
curiosity to see her, and saying that as she drove past the house that
morning, she was strongly tempted to waive all ceremony and run in,
knowing she should be pardoned for the sake of Auld Lang Syne, when she
was privileged to take liberties with the Camerons. All this Wilford
repeated to Katy, but he did not tell her how at the words Auld Lang
Syne, Sybil had turned her fine eyes upon him with an expression which
made him color, for he knew she was referring to the time when her name
and his were always coupled together.

Wilford would not have exchanged Katy for a dozen Sybils, but there was
about the latter a flash and sparkle very fascinating to most men, and
Wilford felt himself so much exhilarated in her society that he half
regretted leaving it, wishing as he did so that in some things Katy was
more like the brilliant woman of the world, who, flashing upon him her
most bewitching smile, leaned back in her handsome carriage with a
careless, easy abandon, while he ran up the steps of his own dwelling,
where Katy waited for him. In this state of mind her achievement at the
dinner table was exceedingly gratifying. Sybil herself could not have
done better. But alas, there were many points where Katy fell far below
this standard; so after speaking of Sybil's inquiries for his wife, he
went on to talk of Sybil herself, telling how much she was admired and
how superior she was to the majority of ladies whom Katy had met, adding
that he felt more anxious that Katy should make a favorable impression
upon her than any one of his acquaintance, as she would be sure to note
the slightest departure from her code of etiquette. How Katy hated the
words etiquette, and style and manner, wishing they might be stricken
from the language, and how she dreaded this Sybil Grandon, who seemed to
her like some ogress, instead of the charming creature she was described
to be. Thoughts of the secret picture and the dread fancy did not
trouble her now, for she was sure of Wilford's love; but she had
sometimes dreaded the return of Sybil Grandon, and now that she had
come, she felt for a moment a chill at her heart and a terror at meeting
her which she tried to shake off, succeeding at last, for perfect faith
in Wilford was to her a strong shield of defense, and her only trouble
was a fear lest she should fall in the scale of comparison which might
be instituted between herself and Mrs. Grandon.

Nestling close to Wilford, she said, half earnestly, half playfully:

"I will try not to disgrace you when I meet this Mrs. Grandon."

Then, anxious to change the conversation to something more agreeable to
herself, she began to talk of their house, thus diverting her own mind
from Sybil Grandon, who after a few days ceased to be a bugbear, Wilford
never mentioning her again, and Katy only hearing of her through Juno
and Bell, the first of whom went into raptures over her, while the
latter styled her a silly, coquettish widow, who would appear much
better to have worn her weeds a little longer, and not throw herself
quite so soon into the market. That she should of course meet her some
time, Katy knew, but she would not distress herself till the time
arrived, and so she dismissed her fears, or rather lost them in the
excitement of her new dignity as mistress of a house.

In her girlhood Katy had evinced a taste for housekeeping, which now
developed so rapidly that she won the respect of all the servants, from
the man who answered the bell to the accomplished cook, hired by Mrs.
Cameron, and who, like most accomplished cooks, was sharp and cross and
opinionated, but who did not find it easy to scold the blithe little
woman who every morning came flitting into her dominions, not asking
what they would have for dinner, as she had been led to suppose she
would, but ordering it with a matter of course air, which amused the
usually overbearing Mrs. Phillips. But when the little lady, rolling her
sleeves above her dimpled elbows and donning the clean white apron which
Phillips was reserving for afternoon, announced her intention of
surprising Wilford, who was very particular about dessert, with a
pudding such as Aunt Betsy used to make, there were signs of rebellion,
Phillips telling her bluntly that she couldn't be bothered--that it was
not a lady's place in the kitchen under foot--that the other Mrs.
Cameron never did it, and would not like it in Mrs. Wilford.

For a moment Katy paused and looked straight at Mrs. Phillips; then
without a word of reply to that worthy's remarks, said, quietly: "I have
only six eggs here--the receipt is ten. Bring me four more, please."

There was something in the blue eyes which compelled obedience, and the
dessert progressed without another word of remonstrance. But when the
door bell rang, and word came down that there were ladies in the
parlor--Juno with some one else--Phillips would not tell her of the
flour on her hair; and as Katy, after casting aside her apron and
putting down her sleeves, only glanced hastily at herself in the hall
mirror as she passed it, she appeared in the parlor with this mark upon
her curls, and greatly to her astonishment was presented to "Mrs. Sybil
Grandon," Juno explaining, that as Sybil was very anxious to see her,
and they were passing the house, she had presumed upon her privilege as
a sister and brought her in.

For a moment the room turned dark, and Katy felt that she was falling;
it was so sudden, so unexpected, and she so unprepared; but Sybil's
familiar manner soon quieted her, and she was able at last to look fully
at her visitor, finding her not as handsome as she expected, nor as
young but in all other points she had not perhaps been exaggerated.
Cultivated and self-possessed, she was still very pleasing in her
manner, making Katy feel wholly at ease by a few well-timed compliments,
which had the merit of seeming genuine, so perfect was she in the art of
deception, practicing it with so much skill that few saw through the
mask, and knew it was put on.

To Katy she was very gracious, admiring her house, admiring herself,
admiring everything, until Katy wondered how she could ever have dreaded
to meet her, laughing and chatting as familiarly as if the fashionable
woman were not criticising every movement and every act and every
feature of her face, wondering most at the flour upon her hair!

Juno wondered, too, but knowing Katy's domestic propensities, suspected
the truth, and feigning some errand with Phillips, she excused herself
for a moment and descended to the kitchen, where she was not long in
hearing about Katy's queer ways, coming where she was not needed, and
making country puddings after some heathenish aunt's rule.

"Was it Aunt Betsy?" Juno asked, her face betokening its disgust when
told that she was right, and her manner on her return to the parlor very
frigid toward Katy, who had discovered the flour on her hair, and was
laughing merrily over it, telling Sybil how it happened--how cross
Phillips was--and lastly, how "our folks" often made the pudding, and
that was why she wished to surprise Wilford with it.

There was a sarcastic smile upon Sybil's lip as she wished Mrs. Cameron
success and then departed, leaving Katy to finish the dessert, which,
when ready for the table, was certainly very inviting, and would have
tempted the appetite of any man who had not been listener to matters
not wholly conducive to his peace of mind.

On his way home Wilford had stopped at his father's, finding Juno, who
had just come in, relating the particulars of her call upon his wife,
and as she did not think it necessary to stop for him, he heard of
Katy's misdoings, and her general appearance in the presence of Sybil
Grandon, whom she entertained with a description of "our folks'"
favorite dishes, together with Aunt Betsy's receipts. This was the straw
too many, and since his marriage Wilford had not been as angry as he was
while listening to Juno, who reported Sybil's verdict on his wife, "A
domestic little body and very pretty."

Wilford did not care to have his wife domestic; he did not marry her
for that, and in a mood anything but favorable to the light, delicate
dessert Katy had prepared with so much care, he went to his luxurious
home, where Katy ran as usual to meet him, her face brimming with the
surprise she had in store for him, and herself so much excited that she
did not at first observe the cloud upon his brow, as he moodily answered
her rapid questions. But when the important moment arrived, and the
dessert was brought on, he promptly declined it, even after her
explanation that she made it herself, just to gratify and astonish him,
urging him to try it for the sake of pleasing her, if nothing more. But
Wilford was not hungry then, and even had he been, he would have chosen
anything before a pudding formed from a receipt of Betsy Barlow, so the
dessert was untasted even by Katy herself, who, knowing now that
something had gone wrong, sat fighting back her tears until the servant
left the room, when she timidly asked: "What is it, Wilford? What makes
you seem so--". She would not say cross, and substituted "queer,"
while Wilford plunged at once into the matter by saying, "Juno tells me
she called here this afternoon with Mrs. Grandon."

"Yes, I forgot to mention it," Katy answered, feeling puzzled to know
why that should annoy her husband; but his next remarks disclosed the
whole, and Katy's tears flowed fast as Wilford asked what he supposed
Mrs. Grandon thought, to see his wife looking as if fresh from the flour
barrel, and to hear her talk about Aunt Betsy's receipts and our folks.
"That is a bad habit of yours, Katy," he continued, "one of which I wish
you to break yourself, if possible. I have never spoken to you directly
on the subject before, but it annoys me exceedingly, inasmuch as it is
an indication of low breeding."

There was no answer from Katy, whose heart was too full to speak, and
so Wilford went on: "Our servants were selected by mother with a direct
reference to your youth and inexperience, and it is not necessary for
you to frequent the kitchen, or, indeed, to go there oftener than once a
week. Let them come to you for orders, not you go to them. Neither need
you speak quite so familiarly to them, treating them almost as if they
were your equals. Try to remember your true position, that whatever you
may have been you are now Mrs. Wilford Cameron, equal to any lady in New
York."

They were in the library now, and the soft May breeze came stealing
through the open window, stirring the fleecy curtain and blowing across
the tasteful bouquet which Katy had arranged; but Katy was too wretched
to care for her surroundings. It was the first time Wilford had ever
spoken to her just in this way, and his manner hurt her more than his
words, making her feel as if she were an ignorant, ill-bred creature,
whom he had raised to a position she did not know how to fill. It was
cruel thus to repay her attempts to please, and so, perhaps, Wilford
thought, as with folded arms he sat looking at her weeping so bitterly
upon the sofa; but he was too indignant to make any concession then, and
he suffered her to weep in silence until he remembered that his mother
had requested him to bring her around that evening, as they were
expecting a few of Juno's friends, and among them Sybil Grandon. If Katy
went he wished her to look her best, and he unbent so far as to try to
check her tears. But Katy could not stop, and she wept so passionately
that Wilford's anger subsided, leaving only tenderness and pity for the
wife he tried so hard to soothe, telling her he was sorry, and suing for
forgiveness, until the sobbing ceased, and Katy lay passively in his
arms, her face so white and the dark rings about her eyes showing so
distinctly that Wilford did not press her when she declined his mother's
invitation. He could go, she said, urging so many reasons why he
should, that, for the first time since their marriage, he left her
alone, and went to where Sybil Grandon smiled her sunniest smile, and
put forth her most persuasive powers to keep him at her side, expressing
so much regret that he did not bring his charming little wife, who
completely won her heart, she was so childlike and simple-hearted,
laughing so merrily when she discovered the flour on her hair, but not
seeming to mind it in the least. Really, she did not see how it happened
that he was fortunate enough to win such a domestic treasure. Where did
he find her?

If Sybil Grandon meant this to be complimentary it was not received as
such, Wilford almost grating his teeth with vexation as he listened to
it, and feeling doubly mortified with Katy, whom he found waiting for
him, when at a late hour he left the society of Sybil Grandon and
repaired to his home.

To Katy the time of his absence had seemed an age, for her thoughts had
been busy with the past, gathering up every incident connected with her
married life since she came to New York, and deducing from them the
conclusion that "Wilford's folks" were ashamed of her, and that Wilford
himself might perhaps become so, if he were not already. That would be
worse than death itself, and the darkest hours she had ever known were
those she spent alone that night, sobbing so violently as to bring on a
racking headache, which showed itself upon her face and touched Wilford
at once.

Sybil Grandon was forgotten in those moments of contrition, when he
ministered so tenderly to his suffering wife, whom he felt that he had
wronged. But somehow he could not tell her so then. It was not natural
for him to confess his errors. There had already been a struggle between
his duty and his pride when he had done so, and now the latter
conquered, especially as Katy, grown more calm, began to take the
censure to herself, lamenting her shortcomings, and promising to do
better, even to the imitating of Sybil Grandon, if that would make him
forget the past and love her as before.

Wilford could accord forgiveness far more graciously than he could ask
it, and so peace was restored again, and Katy's face next day looked
bright and happy when seen in her new carriage, which took her down
Broadway to Stewart's, where she encountered Sybil Grandon, and with her
Juno Cameron.

From the latter Katy instinctively shrank, but she could not resist the
former, who greeted her so familiarly that Katy readily forgave her the
pain of which she had been the cause, and could even speak of her to
Wilford without a pang when he next came home to dinner. Still she could
not overcome her dread of meeting her, and she grew more and more averse
to mingling in society, where she might do many things to mortify her
husband or his family, and thus provoke a scene she hoped never again to
pass through.

"Oh, if Helen were only here," she thought, as she began to experience a
sensation of loneliness she had never felt before.

But Helen was not there, nor yet coming there at present. One word from
Wilford had settled that, convincing Katy that it was better to wait
until the autumn, inasmuch as they were going so soon to Saratoga and
Newport, which Katy had so much wished to visit, but from which she now
shrank, especially after she knew that Mrs. Cameron and Juno were to be
of the party, and probably Sybil Grandon. Katy did not dislike the
latter, but she was never quite easy in her presence, and was conscious
of appearing to disadvantage whenever they were together, while she
could not deny to herself that since Sybil's return Wilford had not been
quite the same as before. In company he was more attentive than ever,
but at home he was sometimes moody and silent, while Katy strove in vain
to ascertain the cause.

They were not as happy in the new home as she had expected to be, but
the fault did not lie with Katy. She performed well her part, and more,
taking upon her young shoulders the whole of the burden which her
husband should have helped her bear. Housekeeping far more than boarding
brings out a husband's nature, for whereas in the latter case one
rightfully demands the services for which he pays, in the former he is
sometimes expected to do and think, and even wait upon himself. But this
was not Wilford's nature. The easy, indolent life he had led so long as
a petted son of a partial mother unfitted him for care, and he was as
much a boarder in his own home as he had ever been in the hotels in
Paris, thoughtlessly requiring of Katy more than he should have
required, so that Bell was not far from right when in her journal she
described her sister-in-law as "a little servant whose feet were never
supposed to be tired, and whose wishes were never consulted." It is true
Bell had put it rather strongly, but the spirit of what she said was
right, Wilford seldom considering Katy, or allowing her wishes to
interfere with his own plans, while accustomed to every possible
attention from his mother, he exacted the same from his wife, whose life
was not one of unmixed happiness, notwithstanding that every letter home
bore assurance to the contrary.



CHAPTER XVIII.

MARIAN HAZELTON.


The last days of June had come, and Wilford was beginning to make
arrangements for removing Katy from the city before the warmer weather.
To this he had been urged by Mark Ray's remarking that Katy was not
looking as well as when he first saw her, one year ago, "She had grown
thin and pale," he said. "Had Wilford remarked it?"

Wilford had not. She complained much of headache; but that was only
natural. Still he wrote to the Mountain House that afternoon to secure
rooms for himself and wife, and then at an earlier hour than usual went
home to tell her of the arrangement. Katy was out shopping, Esther said,
and had not yet returned, adding: "There is a note for her upstairs,
left by a woman who insisted on seeing the house, until I took her over
it, showing her every room."

"A strange woman went over my house in Mrs. Cameron's absence! Who was
it?" Wilford asked, hastily, visions of Helen, or possibly Aunt Betsy,
rising before his mind.

"She said she was a friend of Mrs. Cameron, and that she knew she would
allow the liberty," Esther replied, thus confirming Wilford in his
suspicions that some country acquaintance had thrust herself upon them,
and hastening up to Katy's room, where the note was lying, he took it up
and examined the superscription, examined it closely, holding it up to
the light full a minute, and forgetting to open it in his perplexity and
the train of thought it awakened.

"They are singularly alike," he said, and still holding the note in his
hand he went downstairs to the library, and opening a drawer of his
writing desk, which was always kept locked, he took from it a picture
and a bit of soiled paper, on which was written: "I am not guilty,
Wilford, and God will never forgive the wrong you have done to me."

There was no name or date, but Wilford needed neither, for he knew well
whose hand had penned those lines, and he sat looking at them, comparing
them at last with the "Mrs. Wilford Cameron" which the strange woman had
written. Then opening the note, he read that, having returned to New
York, and wishing employment either as seamstress or dressmaker, Marian
Hazelton had ventured to call upon Mrs. Cameron, remembering her promise
to give her work if she should desire it. The note concluded by saying:

"I am sure you will pardon me for the liberty I took of going over the
house. It was a temptation I could not resist. You have a delightful
home. God grant you may be happy in it. You see I have also made bold
to write this in your library, for which I beg pardon,

"Yours truly, MARIAN HAZELTON,

"No. ---- Fourth St., 4th floor, N.Y."

"Who is Marian Hazelton?" Wilford asked himself as he threw down the
missive. "Some of Katy's country friends, I dare say. Seems to me I have
heard that name. She certainly writes as Genevra did, except that this
Hazelton's is more decided and firm. Poor Genevra!"

There was a pallor about Wilford's lips as he said this, and taking up
the picture he gazed for a long time upon the handsome, girlish face,
whose dark eyes seemed to look reproachfully upon him, just as they must
have looked when the words were penned: "God will never forgive the
wrong you have done to me."

"Genevra was mistaken," he said. "At least, if God has not forgiven, he
has prospered me, which amounts to the same thing;" and without a single
throb of gratitude to Him who had thus prospered him, Wilford laid
Genevra's picture and Genevra's note back with the withered grass and
flowers plucked from Genevra's grave, and then went again upstairs, just
as Katy's ring was heard and Katy herself came in.

As thoughts of Genevra always made Wilford kinder toward his wife, so
now he kissed her white cheek, noticing that, as Mark had said, it was
whiter than last year in June. But mountain air would bring back the
roses, he thought, as he handed her the note.

"Oh, yes, from Marian Hazelton," Katy said, glancing first at the name
and then hastily reading it through.

"Who is Marian Hazelton? Some intimate friend, I judge, from the liberty
she took."

"Not very intimate, though I liked her so much, and thought her above
her position," Katy replied, repeating all she knew of Marian, and how
she chanced to know her at all. "Don't you remember Helen wrote that she
fainted at our wedding, and I was so sorry, fearing I might have
overworked her."

Wilford did remember something about it, and satisfied that Marian
Hazelton had no idea of intruding herself upon them, except as she might
ask for work, he dismissed her from his mind and told Katy of his plan
for taking her to the Mountain House a few weeks before going to
Saratoga.

"Would you not like it?" he asked, as she continued silent, with her
eyes fixed upon the window opposite.

"Yes," and Katy drew a long and weary breath. "I shall like any place
where there are birds, and rocks, and trees, and real grass, such as
grows of itself in the country; but Wilford," and Katy crept close to
him now, "if I might go to Silverton, I should get strong so fast. You
don't know how I long to see home once more. I dream about it nights and
think about it days, knowing just how pleasant it is there, with the
roses in bloom and the meadows so fresh and green. May I go, Wilford?
May I go home to mother?"

Had Katy asked for half his fortune, just as she asked to go home,
Wilford would have given it to her, but Silverton had a power to lock
all the softer avenues of his heart, and so he answered that the
Mountain House was preferable, that the rooms were engaged, and that as
he should enjoy it so much better he thought they would make no change.

Katy did not cry, nor utter a word of remonstrance; she was fast
learning that quiet submission was better than useless opposition, and
so Silverton was again given up. But there was one consolation. Seeing
Marian Hazelton would be almost as good as going home, for had she not
recently come from that neighborhood, bringing with her the odor from
the hills and freshness from the woods. Perhaps, too, she had lately
seen Helen or Morris at church, and had heard the music of the organ
which Helen played, and the singing of the children just as it sometimes
came to Katy in her dreams, making her start in her sleep and murmur
snatches of the sacred songs which Dr. Morris taught. Yes, Marian could
tell her of all this, and very impatiently Katy waited for the morning
when she would drive around to Fourth Street with the piles of sewing
she was going to take to Marian.

"Dear Marian, I wonder is she very poor?" Katy thought, as she next day
made her preparations for the call, and had Wilford been parsimoniously
inclined, he might have winced could he have seen the numerous stores
gathered up for Marian and packed away in the carriage with the bundle
of cambric and linen and lace, all destined for that fourth-story
chamber where Marian Hazelton sat that summer morning, looking drearily
out upon the dingy court and contrasting its sickly patch of grass,
embellished with rain water barrels, coal hods and ash pails, with the
country she had so lately left, the wooded hills and blooming gardens of
Silverton, which had been her home for nearly two years.

It was a fault of Marian's not to remain long contented in any place,
and so tiring of the country she had returned to the great city, urged
on by a strange desire it may be to see Mrs. Wilford Cameron, to know
just how she lived, to judge if she were happy, and perhaps--some time
see Wilford Cameron, herself unknown, for not for the world would she
have met face to face the man who had so often stood by Genevra
Lambert's grave in the churchyard beyond the sea. Thinking she might
succeed better alone, she had hired a room far up the narrow stairway of
a high, somber-looking building, and then from her old acquaintances, of
whom she had several in the city, she had solicited work. More than once
she had passed the handsome house on Madison Square where Katy lived,
walking slowly and gazing with dim eyes which could not weep at Wilford
Cameron's luxurious home, and contrasting it with hers, that one room,
which yet was not wholly uninviting, for where Marian went there was
always an air of humble comfort; and Katy, as she crossed the threshold,
uttered an exclamation of delight at the cheerful, airy aspect of the
apartment, with its bright ingrain carpet, its simple shades of white,
its chintz-covered lounge, its one rocking-chair, its small parlor
stove, and its pots of flowers upon the broad window sill.

"Oh, Marian," she exclaimed, tripping across the floor, and impulsively
throwing her arms around Miss Hazelton's neck, "I am so glad to meet
some one from home. It seems almost like Helen I am kissing," and her
lips again met those of Marian Hazelton, who amid her own joy at finding
Katy unchanged, wondered what the Camerons would say to see their Mrs.
Wilford kissing a poor seamstress whom they would have spurned.

But Katy did not care for Camerons then, or even think of them, as in
her rich basquine and pretty hat, with emeralds and diamonds sparkling
on her fingers, she sat down by Marian, whose hands, though delicate and
small, showed marks of labor such as Katy had never known.

"You must forgive me for going over your house," Marian said, after they
had talked together a moment, and Katy had told how sorry she was to
miss the call. "I could not resist the temptation, and it did me so much
good, although I must confess to a good cry when I came back and thought
of the difference between us."

There was a quiver of her lip and a tone in her voice which touched
Katy's heart, and she tried to comfort her, forgetting entirely whether
what she said was proper or not, and impetuously letting out that even
in houses like hers there was trouble. Not that she was unhappy in the
least, for she was not; but, oh! the fuss it was to be fashionable and
keep from doing anything to shock his folks, who were so particular
about every little thing, even to the way she tied her bonnet and sat
in a chair.

This was what Katy said, and Marian, looking straight into Katy's face,
felt that she would not exchange places with the young girl-wife whom so
many envied.

"Tell me of Silverton," was Katy's next remark. "You don't know how
I want to go there; but Wilford does not think it best--that is, at
present. Next fall I am surely going. I picture to myself just how it
will look; Morris' garden, full of the autumnal flowers--the ripe
peaches in our orchard, the grapes ripening on the wall, and the long
shadows on the grass, just as I used to watch them, wondering what made
them move so fast, and where they could be going. Will it be unchanged,
Marian? Do places seem the same when once we have left them?" and Katy's
eager eyes looked wistfully at Marian, who replied: "Not always--not
often, in fact; but in your case they may. You have not been long away."

"Only a year," Katy said. "I was as long as that in Canandaigua; but
this past year is different. I have seen so much, and lived so much,
that I feel ten years older than I did last spring, when you and Helen
made my wedding dress. Darling Helen! When did you see her last?"

"I was there five weeks ago," Marian replied. "I saw them all, and told
them I was coming to New York."

"Do they miss me any? Do they talk of me? Do they wish me back again?"
Katy asked, and Marian replied: "They talked of little else--that is,
your own family. Dr. Morris, I think, did not mention your name. He
has grown very silent and reserved," and Marian's eyes were fixed
inquiringly upon Katy, as if to ascertain how much she knew of the
cause for Morris' reserve.

But Katy had no suspicion, and only replied: "Perhaps he is vexed that
I do not write to him oftener, but I can't. I think of him a great deal,
and sometimes have so wished I could sit in his public library, and
forget that there are such things as dinner parties, where you are in
constant terror lest you should do something wrong--evening parties,
where your dress and style are criticised--receptions or calls, and all
the things which make me so confused. Morris could always quiet me. It
rested me just to hear him talk, and I respect him more than any living
man, except, of course, Wilford; but when I try to write, something
comes in between me and what I wish to say, for I want to convince him
that I am not as frivolous as I fear he thinks I am. I have not
forgotten the Sunday school, nor the church service, which I so loved to
hear, especially when Morris read it, as he did in Mr. Browning's
absence; but in the city it is so hard to be good, particularly when one
is not, you know--that is, good like you and Helen and Morris--and the
service and music seem all for show, and I feel so hateful when I see
Juno and Wilford's mother making believe, and putting their heads down
on velvet cushions, knowing as I do that they both are thinking either
of their own bonnets or those just in front."

"Are you not a little uncharitable?" Marian asked, laughing in spite of
herself at the picture Katy drew of fashion trying to imitate religion
in its humility.

"Perhaps so," Katy answered. "I grow bad from looking behind the scenes,
and the worst is that I do not care. But tell me, do you think Morris
likes me less than formerly?"

Marian did not, and assured on that point, Katy went back to the
farmhouse, asking numberless questions about its inmates, and at last
coming to the business which had brought her to Marian's room.

There were perceptible spots on Marian's neck, and her lips were very
white, while her hands grasped the bundles tossed into her lap--the
yards and yards of lace and embroidery, linen, and cambric, which she
was expected to make for the wife of Wilford Cameron; and her voice was
husky as she asked directions or made suggestions of her own.

"It's because she has no such joy in expectation. I should feel so, too,
if I were thirty and unmarried," Katy thought, as she noticed Marian's
agitation, and tried to divert her mind by telling her as delicately as
possible that she had brought with her sundry stores of which she had
such an abundance.

"I knew you were not an object of charity," she said, as she saw the
flush on Marian's brow, "but when I have so much I like to share it with
others, and you seem like our folks."

"Did Wilf--did Mr. Cameron know?" Marian asked, and Katy answered "No;
but it does not matter. He lets me do as I like in these matters, and
the greatest pleasure I have is giving. You are not offended?" she
continued, as she saw a tear drop from Marian's eyelids.

"No--oh, no," and Marian quietly laid aside the packages which would
find their way to many an humble garret or cellar, where biting poverty
had its abode.

It would choke her to eat whatever came from Wilford Cameron, but she
could not tell Katy so, though she did say: "I will keep these because
you brought them, but do not do so again. There are many far more needy.
I saved something in Silverton. I shall not suffer so long as my health
is spared."

Then after a few more inquiries concerning the work, about which she
could now talk calmly, she asked where Katy went when she was abroad,
her blue eyes growing almost black as Katy talked of Rome, of Venice, of
Paris, and then of Alnwick, where they had stopped so long.

"By the way, you were born in England? Were you ever at Alnwick?" Katy
asked, and Marian replied: "Once, yes. I've seen the castle and the
church. Did you go there--to St. Mary's, I mean?"

"Oh, yes, and I was never tired of that old churchyard, Wilford liked
it, too, and we wandered by the hour among the sunken graves and quaint
headstones."

"Do you remember any of the names upon the stones? Perhaps I may know
them?" Marian asked; but Katy did not remember any, or if she did, it
was not "Genevra Lambert, aged twenty-two." And so Marian asked her no
more questions concerning St. Mary's, at Alnwick, but talked instead of
London and other places, until three hours went by, and down in the
street the coachman chafed and fretted at the long delay, wandering what
kept his mistress in that neighborhood so long. Had she friends, or had
she come on some errand of mercy? The latter most likely, he concluded,
and so his face was not quite so cross when Katy at last appeared,
looking at her watch and exclaiming at the lateness of the hour. But
when, as they turned into the avenue, Katy called to him to stop,
bidding him drive back, as she had forgotten something, he showed
unmistakable signs of irritation, but nevertheless obeyed, and Katy was
soon mounting a second time to the fourth story of No. ----, where Marian
Hazelton knelt upon the floor, her head resting upon the costly fabrics
and her frame quivering with the anguish of the sobs which reached
Katy's ear even before she opened the unbolted door.

"What is it, Marian?" she asked, in great distress, while Marian,
struggling to her feet, remained for a moment speechless.

She had not expected Katy to return, else she had never given way as she
did, calling on her God to help her bear what she now knew she was not
prepared to bear. She had thought the heart struggle conquered, and that
she could calmly look upon Wilford Cameron's wife; but the sight of
Katy, together with the errand on which she came, had unnerved her, and
she wept bitterly in her desolation, until Katy's reappearance startled
her from her position on the floor, making her stammer out some excuse
about "homesickness and the seeing Katy bringing back the past."

Very lovingly Katy tried to comfort her, putting into her manner just
enough of pretty patronage to amuse without annoying Marian, who soon
grew calm, and then listened while Katy told why she returned. She
feared she had talked too much of her own affairs--too much of his
folks, who, after all, were nice, kind people, and she came to take
it back, asking Marian never to speak of it, as it might get to them
indirectly, and Wilford would be angry.

With a smile, as she thought how improbable it was that anything said to
her up in that humble room should reach to No. ---- Fifth Avenue, Marian
promised silence; and with a good-by kiss, given to convince Marian that
she was not proud, Katy again departed, and was soon driving toward
Madison Square. She was very happy that morning, for seeing Marian had
brought Silverton near to her, and airy as a bird she ran up the steps
of her own dwelling, where the door opened as by magic, and Wilford
himself confronted her, asking, with the tone which always made her
heart beat, where she had been, and he waiting for her two whole hours.
Surely it was not necessary to stop so long with a seamstress, he
continued when she tried to explain. Ten minutes would suffice for
directions, and he could not imagine what attractions there were in Miss
Hazelton to keep her there three hours, and then the real cause of his
vexation came out. He had come expressly for the carriage to take her
and Sybil Grandon to a picnic up the river, whither his mother, Juno and
Bell had already gone. Mrs. Grandon must wonder why he stayed so long,
and perhaps give up going. Could Katy be ready soon; and Wilford walked
rapidly up and down the parlor as he talked, with a restless motion of
his hands which always betokened impatience. Poor Katy, how the
brightness of the morning faded, and how averse she felt to joining that
picnic, which she knew had been in prospect for some time, and had
fancied she should enjoy. But not to-day, not with that cold, proud look
on Wilford's face, and the feeling that he was vexed. Still she could
think of no reasonable excuse, and so an hour later found her driving
into the country with Sybil Grandon, who received her apologies with as
much good-natured grace as if she had not worked herself into a passion
at the delay, for Sybil had been very cross and impatient; but all this
vanished when she met Wilford and saw that he, too, was disturbed and
irritated. Soft and sweet and smooth was she both in word and manner, so
that by the time the pleasant grove was reached Wilford's ruffled
spirits had been soothed, and he was himself again, ready to enjoy the
pleasures of the day as keenly as if no harsh word had been said to
Katy, who, silent and unhappy, listened to the graceful badinage between
Sybil and her husband, thinking how differently his voice had sounded
when addressing her only a little while before.

"Pray put some animation into your face, or Mrs. Grandon will certainly
think we have been quarreling," Wilford whispered, as he lifted his wife
from the carriage, and with a great effort Katy tried to be gay and
natural.

But all the while was she fighting back her tears and wishing she were
away. Even Marian's room, looking into the dingy court, was preferable
to that place, and she was glad when the long day came to an end, and
she with a fearful headache was riding back to the city.

The next morning was dark and rainy; but in spite of the weather Katy
found her way to Marian's room, this time taking the ---- avenue cars,
which left her independent as regarded the length of her stay. About
Marian there was something more congenial than about her city friends,
and day after day found her there, watching while Marian fashioned into
shape the beautiful little garments, the sight of which had over Katy a
strangely quieting influence, sobering her down and maturing her more
than all the years of her life had done. Those were happy hours spent
with Marian Hazelton, the happiest of the entire day, and Katy felt it
keenly when Wilford at last interfered, telling her she was growing
quite too familiar with that sewing woman, and her calls had best be
discontinued, except, indeed, such as were necessary to the work in
progress.

There was a grieved look on Katy's face, but she uttered no word of
remonstrance; while her husband went on to say, that of course he did
not wish to be unreasonable, nor interfere between her and her
acquaintances as a general thing, but when the acquaintance chosen was a
sewing woman, whose antecedents no one knew, and whose society could not
be improving, the case was different.

After this there were no more mornings spent in Marian's room, no more
talks of Silverton and Morris Grant; talks which did Katy a world of
good, and kept her heart open to better influences, which might
otherwise have been wholly choked and destroyed by the life she saw
around her. With one great gush of tears, when there was no one to see
her, Katy gave Marian up, writing her a note, in which were sundry
directions for the work, which would go on even after she had left for
the Mountain House, as she intended doing the last of June. And Marian,
reading this note, guessed at more than Katy meant she should, and with
a bitter sigh laid it in her basket, and then resumed the work, which
seemed doubly monotonous now that there was no more listening for the
little feet tripping up the stairs, or for the bird-like voice which had
brought so much of music and sunshine to her lonely room.



CHAPTER XIX.

SARATOGA AND NEWPORT.


For three weeks Katy had been at the Mountain House, growing stronger
every day, until now she was much like the Katy of one year ago, and
Wilford was very proud of her, as he saw how greatly she was admired by
those whose admiration he deemed worth having. But their stay among the
Catskills was ended, and on the morrow they were going to Saratoga,
where Mrs. Cameron and her daughter were, and where, too, was Sybil
Grandon, the reigning belle of the United States. So Bell had written to
her brother, bidding him hasten on with Katy, as she wished to see "that
chit of a widow in her proper place." And Katy had been weak enough for
a moment to feel a throb of satisfaction in knowing how effectually
Sybil's claims to belleship would be put aside when she was once in the
field; even glancing at herself in the mirror as she leaned on Wilford's
shoulder, and feeling glad that mountain air and mountain exercise had
brought the roses back to her white cheeks and the brightness to her
eyes. But Katy wept passionate tears of repentance for that weakness,
when an hour later she read the letter which Dr. Grant had sent in
answer to one she had written from the Mountain House, and in which she
had told him much of her life in New York, confessing her shortcomings,
and lamenting that the evils and excesses which shocked her once did not
startle her now. To this letter Morris had replied as a brother might
write to an only sister, first expressing his joy at her happiness, and
then coming to the subject which lay nearest his heart, warning her
against temptation, reminding her of that other life to which this is
only a preparation, and beseeching her so to use the good things of this
world, given her in such profusion, as not to lose the life eternal.

This was the substance of Morris' letter, which Katy read with
streaming eyes, forgetting Saratoga as Morris' solemn words of warning
and admonition rang in her ears, and shuddering as she thought of losing
the life eternal of going where Morris would never come, nor any of
those she loved the best, unless it were Wilford, who might reproach her
with having dragged him there when she could have saved him.

"Keep yourself unspotted from the world," Morris had said, and she
repeated it to herself, asking: "How shall I do that? How can one be
good and fashionable, too?"

Then laying her hand upon the rock where she was sitting, Katy tried to
pray as she had not prayed in months, asking that God would teach her
what she ought to know, and keep her unspotted from the world. But at
the Mountain House it is easier to pray that one be kept from temptation
than it is at Saratoga, which this summer was crowded to overflowing,
its streets presenting a fitting picture of Vanity Fair, so full were
they of show and gala dress. At the United States, where Mrs. Cameron
stopped, two rooms, for which an enormous price was paid, had been
reserved for Mr. and Mrs. Wilford Cameron, and this of itself would have
given them a certain _éclat_, even if there had not been present many
who remembered the proud, fastidious bachelor, and were proportionately
anxious to see his wife. She came, she saw, she conquered; and within
three days after her arrival Katy Cameron was the acknowledged belle of
Saratoga, from the United States to the Clarendon. And Katy, alas! was
not quite the same who on the mountain ridge had sat with Morris' letter
in her hand, praying that its teachings might not be all forgotten. Nor
were they, but she did not heed them here where all was so bright and
gay, and where the people thought her so perfect. Saratoga seemed
different to her from New York, and she plunged into its gayeties, never
pausing, never tiring, and seldom giving herself time to think, much
less to pray, as Morris had bidden her do. And Wilford, though hardly
able to recognize the usually timid Katy in the brilliant woman who led
rather than followed, was sure of her faith to him, and so was only
proud and gratified to see her bear off the palm from every competitor,
while even Juno, though she quarreled with the shadow into which she
was so completely thrown, enjoyed the _éclat_ cast upon their party by
the presence of Mrs. Wilford, who had passed beyond her criticism. Sybil
Grandon, too, stood back in wonder that a simple country girl should win
and wear the laurels she had so long claimed as her own; but as there
was no help for it she contented herself as best she could with the
admiration she did receive, and whenever opportunity occurred, said
bitter things of Mrs. Wilford, whose parentage and low estate were
through her pretty generally known. But it did not matter there what
Katy had been; the people took her for what she was now, and Sybil's
glory faded like the early dawn in the coming of the full day.

As it had been at Saratoga, so it was at Newport. Urged on by Mrs.
Cameron and Bell, who greatly enjoyed her notoriety, Katy plunged into
the mad excitement of dancing and driving and coquetting, until Wilford
himself became uneasy, locking her once in her room, where she was
sleeping after dinner, and conveniently forgetting to release her until
after the departure at evening of some young men from Cambridge, whose
attentions to the Ocean House belle had been more strongly marked than
was altogether agreeable to him. Of course it was a mistake--the locking
of the door--and a great oversight in him not to have remembered it
sooner, he said to Katy, by way of apology; and Katy, with no suspicion
of the truth, laughed merrily at the joke, repeating it downstairs to
the old dowagers, who shrugged their shoulders meaningly and whispered
to each other that it might be well if more young, handsome wives were
locked into their rooms and thus kept out of mischief.

Though flattered, caressed and admired, Katy was not doing herself much
credit at Newport, but after Wilford there was no one to raise a warning
voice, until Mark Ray came down for a few days' respite from the heated
city, where he spent the entire summer, taking charge of the business
which belonged as much to Wilford as to himself. But Wilford had a wife;
it was more necessary that he should leave, Mark had argued; his time
would come by and by. And so he had remained at home until the last of
August, when he appeared suddenly at the Ocean House one night when
Katy, in her airy robes and childlike simplicity, was breaking hearts by
the score. Like others, Mark was charmed, and not a little proud, for
Katy's sake, to see her thus appreciated; but when one day's experience
had shown him more and given him a look behind the scenes, he trembled
for her, knowing how hard it would be for her to come out of that sea of
dissipation as pure and spotless as she went in.

"If I were her brother I would warn her that her present career, though
very delightful now, is not one upon which she will look back with
pleasure when the excitement is over," he said to himself; "but if
Wilford is satisfied it is not for me to interfere. It is surely nothing
to me what Katy Cameron does," he kept repeating to himself; but as
often as he said it there came up before him a pale, anxious face,
shaded with Helen Lennox's bands of hair, and Helen Lennox's voice
whispered to him: "Save Katy, for my sake;" and so next day, when Mark
found himself alone with Katy, while most of the guests were at the
beach, he questioned her of her life at Saratoga and Newport, and
gradually, as he talked, there crept into Katy's heart a suspicion that
he was not altogether pleased with her account, or with what he had seen
of her since his arrival.

For a moment Katy was indignant, but when he said to her kindly: "Would
Helen he pleased?" her tears started at once, and she attempted an
excuse for her weak folly, accusing Sybil Grandon as the first cause of
the ambition for which she hated herself.

"She had been held up as my pattern," she said, half bitterly, and
forgetting to whom she was talking--"she the one whom I was to imitate;
and when I found that if I would I could go beyond her, I yielded to the
temptation, and exulted to see how far she was left behind. Besides
that," she continued, "is it no gratification, think you, to let
Wilford's proud mother and sister see the poor country girl, whom
ordinarily they would despise, stand where they cannot come, and even
dictate to them if she chooses so to do? I know it is wrong--I know it
is wicked--but I rather like the excitement, and so long as I am with
these people I shall never be any better. Mark Ray, you don't know what
it is to be surrounded by a set who care for nothing but fashion and
display, and how they may outdo each other. I hate New York society.
There is nothing there but husks."

Katy's tears had ceased, and on her white face there was a new look of
womanhood, as if in that outburst she had changed, and would never again
be just what she was before.

"Say," she continued, "do you like New York society?"

"Not always--not wholly," Mark answered; "and still you misjudge it
greatly, for all are not like the people you describe. Your husband's
family represent one extreme, while there are others equally high in the
social scale who do not make fashion the rule of their lives--sensible,
cultivated, intellectual people, of whose acquaintance one might be
glad--people whom I fancy your Sister Helen would enjoy. I have only met
her twice, it is true, but my impression is that she would not find New
York utterly distasteful."

Mark did not know why he had dragged Helen into that conversation,
unless it were that she seemed very near to him as he talked with Katy,
who replied:

"Yes, Helen finds some good in all. She sees differently from what I do,
and I wish so much that she was here."

"Why not send for her?" Mark asked, casting about in his mind whether in
case Helen came, he, too, could tarry for a week and leave that business
in Southbridge, which he must attend to ere returning to the city.

It would be a study to watch Helen Lennox there at Newport, and in
imagination Mark was already her sworn knight, shielding her from
criticism, and commanding her respect from those who respected him, when
Katy tore his castle down by answering impulsively:

"I doubt if Wilford would let me send for her here, nor does it matter,
as I shall not remain much longer. I do not need her now, since you have
showed me how foolish I have been. I was angry at first, but now I thank
you for it, and so would Helen. I shall tell her when I am in Silverton.
I am going there from here, and oh, I so wish it was to-day."

The guests were beginning to return from the beach by this time, and as
Mark had said all he had intended saying, and even more, he left Katy
with Wilford, who had just come in and joined a merry party of
Bostonians only that day arrived. That night at the Ocean House the
guests missed something from their festivities; the dance was not so
exhilarating or the small-talk between them so lively, while more than
one white-kidded dandy swore mentally at the innocent Wilford, whose
wife declined to join in the gayeties, and in a plain white muslin, with
only a pond lily in her hair, kept by her husband's side,
notwithstanding that he more than once bade her leave him and accept
some of her numerous invitations to join the giddy dance. This sober
phase of Katy did not on the whole please Wilford as much as her gayer
ones had done. Perfectly sure of her devotion to himself, he liked to
watch her as she glided amid the throng which paid her so much homage.
All he had ever dreamed of the sensation his bride would create was more
than verified. Katy had fulfilled his highest expectations, reaching a
point from which, as she had said to Mark, she could even dictate to his
mother, if she chose, and he did not care to see her relinquish it.

But Katy remained true to herself. Dropping her girlish playfulness she
assumed a quiet, gentle dignity, which became her even better than her
gayer mood had done, making her ten times more popular and more sought
after, until she begged to go away, persuading Wilford at last to name
the day for their departure, and then, never doubting for a moment that
her destination was Silverton, she wrote to Helen that she was coming on
such a day, and as they would come by way of Providence and Worcester,
they would probably reach West Silverton at ten o'clock, A.M.

"Wilford," she added, in a postscript, "has gone down to bathe, and as
the mail is just closing, I shall send this letter without his seeing
it. Of course it can make no difference, for I have talked all summer of
coming, and he understands it."



CHAPTER XX.

MARK RAY AT SILVERTON.


The last day of summer was dying out in a fierce storm of rain which
swept in sheets across the Silverton hills, hiding the pond from
view, and beating the windows of the farmhouse, whose inmates were
nevertheless unmindful of the storm save as they hoped the morrow would
prove bright and fair, such as the day should be which brought them back
their Katy. Nearly worn out with constant reference was her letter, the
mother catching it up from time to time to read the part referring to
herself, the place where Katy had told how blessed it would be "to rest
again on mother's bed," just as she had often wished to do, "and hear
mother's voice;" the deacon spelling out by his spluttering tallow
candle, with its long, smoky wick, what she had said of "darling old
Uncle Eph," and the rides into the fields which she should have with
him; Aunt Betsy, too, reading mostly from memory the words: "Good old
Aunt Betsy, with her skirts so limp and short, tell her she will look
handsomer to me than the fairest belle at Newport;" and as often as Aunt
Betsy read it she would ejaculate: "The land! what kind of company must
the child have kept?" wondering next if Helen had never written of the
hoop, for which she had paid a dollar, and which was carefully hung in
her closet, waiting for the event of to-morrow, while the hem of her
pongee had been let down and one breadth added to accommodate the hoop.
On the whole, Aunt Betsy expected to make a stylish appearance before
the little lady of whom she stood slightly in awe, always speaking of
her to the neighbors as "My niece, Miss Cameron, from New York," and
taking good care to report what she had heard of "Miss Cameron's" costly
dress and the grandeur of her house, where the furniture of the best
chamber cost over fifteen hundred dollars.

"What could it be--gold?" Aunt Betsy had asked in her simplicity,
feeling an increased respect for Katy, and consenting the more readily
to the change in her pongee, as suggested to her by Helen.

But that was for to-morrow when Katy came; to-night she only wore a
dotted brown, whose hem just reached the top of her "bootees," as she
stood by the window, wondering, first, if the rain would ever stop, and
wondering, secondly, where all them fish worms, squirming on the grass
by the back door, did come from. Needn't tell her they crawled out of
the ground; she knew better--they rained from the clouds, though she
should s'pose that somebody would sometime have catched one on their
bunnet or umberill. Dammed if she didn't mean to stand out o' doors some
day till she was wet to the skin, and see what would come, and having
thus settled a way by which to decide the only question, except that of
the "'Piscopal Church and its quirks," on which she was still obstinate,
Aunt Betsy went to strain the milk just brought by Uncle Ephraim, while
Helen took her position near the window, looking drearily out upon the
leaden clouds, and hoping it would brighten before the morrow. Like the
others, Helen had read Katy's letter many times, dwelling longest upon
the part which said: "I have been so bad, so frivolous and wicked here
at Newport, that it will be a relief to make you my confessor,
depending, as I do, upon your love to grant me absolution."

From a family at Silverton, who had spent a few days at a private house
in Newport, Helen had heard something of her sister's life; the lady had
seen her once driving a tandem team, or as Aunt Betsy had it, "driving
tanterum," down the avenue, with Wilford at her side giving her
instructions. Since then there had been some anxiety felt for her at the
farmhouse, and more than Dr. Grant had prayed that she might be kept
unspotted from the world; but when her letter came, so full of love and
self-reproaches, the burden was lifted, and there was nothing to mar
the anticipations of the events for which they had made so many
preparations, Uncle Ephraim going to the expense of buying at auction a
half-worn, covered buggy, which he fancied would suit Katy better than
the corn-colored wagon in which Katy used to ride. To pay for this the
deacon had parted with the money set aside for the "greatcoat" he so
much needed for the coming winter, his old gray one having done him
service for fifteen years. But his comfort was nothing compared with
Katy's happiness, and so, with his wrinkled face beaming with delight,
he had brought home his buggy, which he designated a carriage, putting
it carefully in the barn, and saying no one should ride in it till
Katy came, the corn-color was good enough for them, but Katy was
different--Katy was Mrs. Cameron, and used to something better. With
untiring patience the old man mended up his harness, for what he had
heard of Katy's driving had impressed him strongly with her powers of
horsemanship, and, truth to tell, raised her somewhat in his respect.
Could he have afforded it Uncle Ephraim in his younger days would have
been a horse jockey, and even now he liked nothing better than to make
Old Whitey run when alone in the strip of woods between the house and
the head of the pond.

"Katy inherits her love of horses from me," he said, complacently, and
with a view of improving Whitey's style and metal, he took to feeding
him on corn and oats, talking to him at times, and telling him who was
coming.

Dear, simple-hearted Uncle Ephraim, the days which he must wait seemed
long to him as they did to the female portion of his family, to Mrs.
Lennox, Aunt Hannah and Aunt Betsy, who each did what she could to make
the house attractive. They were ready for Katy at last, or could be
early on the morrow, and with the shutting in of night the candles were
lighted in the sitting-room, and Helen sat down to her work, wishing it
was to-night that Katy was coming. As if in answer to her wish there was
the sound of wheels, which stopped before the house, and dropping her
work, Helen ran quickly to the door, just as from under the dripping
umbrella held by a driver boy, a tall young man, sprang upon the step,
nearly upsetting her, but passing an arm around her shoulders in time to
keep her from falling.

"I beg pardon for this assault upon you," the stranger said; and then,
turning to the boy, he continued: "It's all right, you need not wait."

With a chirrup and a blow the horse started forward, and the
mud-bespattered vehicle was rapidly moving down the road ere Helen had
recovered her surprise at recognizing Mark Ray, who shook the raindrops
from his hair, and offering her his hand said in reply to her
involuntary exclamation: "I thought it was Katy." "Shall I infer,
then, that I am the less welcome?" and his bright, saucy eyes looked
laughingly into hers. "Business had brought him to Southbridge," he
said, "and it was his intention to take the cars that afternoon for New
York, but having been detained longer than he expected, and not liking
the looks of the hotel arrangements, he had decided to presume upon his
acquaintance with Dr. Grant and spend the night at Linwood. But," and
again his eyes looked straight at Helen, "it rained so hard and the
light from your window was so inviting that I ventured to stop, so here
I am, claiming your hospitality until morning, if convenient; if not, I
will find my way to Linwood."

There was something in this pleasant familiarity which won Uncle Ephraim
at once, and he bade the young man stay, as did Aunt Hannah and Mrs.
Lennox, who now for the first time were presented to Mark Ray. Always
capable of adapting himself to the circumstances around him, Mark did so
now with so much ease and courteousness as to astonish Helen, and partly
thaw the reserve she had assumed when she found the visitor was from the
hated city.

"Are you expecting Mrs. Cameron?" he asked, adding as Helen explained
that she was coming to-morrow: "That is strange. Wilford wrote decidedly
that he should be in New York to-morrow. Possibly, though, he does not
intend himself to stop."

"I presume not," Helen replied, a weight suddenly lifting from her heart
at the prospect of not having to entertain the formidable brother-in-law
who, if he stayed long, would spoil all her pleasure.

Thus at her ease on this point, she grew more talkative, half wishing
that her dress was not a shilling calico, or her hair combed back quite
so straight, giving her that severe look which Morris had said was
unbecoming. It was very smooth and glossy, and even Sybil Grandon would
have given her best diamond to have had in her own natural right the
long heavy coil of hair bound so many times around the back of Helen's
head, ornamented with neither ribbon, comb, nor bow--only a single
geranium leaf, with a white and scarlet blossom, was fastened just
below the ear, and on the side where Mark could see it best, admiring
its effect and forgetting the arrangement of the hair in his admiration
of the well-shaped head, bending so industriously over the work which
Helen had resumed--not crocheting, nor yet embroidery, but the very
homely work of darning Uncle Ephraim's socks, a task which Helen always
did, and on that particular night. Helen knew it was not delicate
employment and there was a moment's hesitancy as she wondered what Mark
would think--then with a grim delight in letting him see that she did
not care, she resumed her darning needle, and as a kind of penance of
the flash of pride in which she had indulged, selected from the basket
the very coarsest, ugliest sock she could find, stretching out the huge
fracture at the heel to its utmost extent, and attacking it with a right
good will, while Mark, with a comical look on his face, sat watching
her. She knew he was looking at her, and her cheeks were growing very
red, while her hatred of him was increasing, when he said, abruptly:
"You follow my mother's custom, I see. She used to mend my socks on
Tuesday nights."

"Your mother mend socks!" and Helen started so suddenly as to run the
point of her darning needle a long way into her thumb, the wound
bringing a stream of blood which she tried to wipe away with her
handkerchief.

"Bind it tightly around. Let me show you, please," Mark said, and ere
she was aware of what she was doing Helen was quietly permitting the
young man to wind her handkerchief around her thumb which he held in his
hand, pressing it until the blood ceased flowing, and the sharp pain had
abated.

Perhaps Mark Ray liked holding that small, warm hand, even though it
were not as white and soft as Juno's; at all events he did hold it until
Helen drew it from him with a quick, sudden motion, telling him it would
now do very well, and she would not trouble him. Mark did not look as if
he had been troubled, but went back to his seat and took up the
conversation just where the needle had stopped it.

"My mother did not always mend herself, but she caused it to be done,
and sometimes helped. I remember she used to say a woman should know
how to do everything pertaining to a household, and she carried out her
theory in the education of my sister."

"Have you a sister?" Helen asked, now really interested, and listening
intently while Mark told her of his only sister, Julia, now Mrs. Ernst,
whose home was in New Orleans, though she at present was in Paris, and
his mother was there with her. "After Julia's marriage, nine years ago,
mother went to live with her," he said, "but latterly, as the little
Ernsts increase so fast, she wishes for a more quiet home, and this
winter she is coming to New York to keep house for me."

Helen thought she might like Mark's mother, who, he told her, had been
twice married, and was now Mrs. Banker, and a widow. She must be
different from Mrs. Cameron; and Helen let herself down to another
degree of toleration for the man whose mother taught her daughter to
mend the family socks. Still there was about her a chilling reserve,
which Mark wondered at, for it was not thus that ladies were accustomed
to receive his advances. He did not guess that Wilford Cameron stood
between him and Helen's good opinion; but when, after the family came
in, the conversation turned upon Katy and her life in New York, the
secret came out in the sharp, caustic mariner with which she spoke of
New York and its people.

"It's Will and the Camerons," Mark thought, blaming Helen less than he
would have done, if he, too, had not known something of the Cameron
pride.

It was a novel position in which Mark found himself that night; an
inmate of a humble farmhouse, where he could almost touch the ceiling
with his hand, and where his surroundings were so different from what he
had been accustomed to; but, unlike Wilford Cameron, he did not wish
himself away, nor feel indignant at Aunt Betsy's odd, old-fashioned
ways, or Uncle Ephraim's grammar. He noticed Aunt Betsy's oddities, it
is true, and noticed Uncle Ephraim's grammar, too; but the sight of
Helen sitting there, with so much dignity and self-respect, made him
look beyond all else, straight into her open face and clear brown eyes,
where there was nothing obnoxious or distasteful. Her grammar was
correct, her manner, saving a little stiffness, ladylike and refined;
and Mark rather enjoyed his situation as self-invited guest, making
himself so agreeable that Uncle Ephraim forgot his hour of retiring, nor
discovered his mistake until, with a loud yawn, Aunt Betsy told him that
it was half-past nine, and she was "desput sleepy."

Owing to Helen's influence there had been a change of the olden customs,
and instead of the long chapter, through which Uncle Ephraim used to
plod so wearily, there was now read the Evening Psalms, Aunt Betsy
herself joining in the reading, which she mentally classed with the
"quirks," but confessed to herself that it "was most as good as the
Bible."

As there were only Prayer Books enough for the family, Helen, in
distributing them, purposely passed Mark by, thinking he might not care
to join them. But he did, and when the verse came around to Helen he
quickly drew his chair near to hers, and taking one side of her book,
performed his part, while Helen's face grew red as the blossoms in her
hair, and her hand so near to Mark's trembled visibly.

"A right nice chap, and not an atom stuck up," was Aunt Betsy's mental
comment, and then, as he often will do, Satan followed the saintly woman
even to her knees, making her wonder if "Mr. Ray hadn't some notion
after Helen." She hoped not, for she meant that Morris should have
Helen, "though if 'twas to be it was, and she should not go agin' it;"
and while Aunt Betsy thus settled the case, Uncle Ephraim's prayer
ended, and the conscience-smitten woman arose from her knees with the
conviction that "the evil one had got the better of her once," mentally
asking pardon for her wandering thoughts, and promising to do better.

Mark was in no haste to retire, and when Uncle Ephraim offered to
conduct him to his room, he frankly answered that he was not sleepy,
adding, as he turned to Helen: "Please let me stay until Miss Lennox
finishes her socks. There are several pairs yet undarned. I will not
detain you, though," he continued, bowing to Uncle Ephraim, who, a
little uncertain what to do, finally departed, as did Aunt Hannah and
his sister, leaving Helen and her mother to entertain Mark Ray. It had
been Mrs. Lennox's first intention to retire also, but a look from
Helen detained her, and she sat down by that basket of socks, while Mark
wished her away. Still it was proper for her to remain, he knew, and he
respected Helen for keeping her, as he knew she did. A while they talked
of Katy and New York, Mark laboring to convince Helen that its people
were not all heartless and fickle, and at last citing his mother as an
instance.

"You would like mother, Miss Lennox. I hope you will know her some
time," he said, and then they talked of books, Helen forgetting that
Mark was city bred in the interest with which she listened to him, while
Mark forgot that the girl who appreciated and understood his views
almost before they were expressed was country born, and sitting there
before him clad in homely garb, with no ornaments save those of her fine
mind and the sparkling face turned so fully toward him.

"Mark Ray is not like Wilford Cameron," Helen said to herself, when as
the clock was striking eleven she bade him good-night and went up to her
room. "But of course in his heart he feels above us all," and opening
her window she leaned her hot cheek against the wet casement, and looked
out upon the night, now so beautiful and clear, for the rain was over,
and up in the heavens the bright stars were shining, each one bearing
some resemblance to Mark's eyes as they kindled and grew bright with his
excitement, resting always kindly on her--on Helen, who, leaning thus
from the window, felt stealing over her that feeling which, once born,
can never be quite forgotten.

Helen did not recognize the feeling, for it was a strange one to her.
She was only conscious of a sensation half pleasurable, half sad, of
which Mark Ray had been the cause, and which she tried in vain to put
aside, wondering what he thought of them all, and if he did not secretly
despise them even while making himself so familiar. And then there swept
over her a feeling of desolation such as she had never experienced
before, a shrinking from living all her life in Silverton, as she fully
expected to do, and laying her head upon the little stand, she cried
passionately.

"This is weak, this is folly," she suddenly exclaimed, as she became
conscious of acting as Helen Lennox was not wont to act, and with a
strong effort of the will she dried her tears and crept quietly to bed
just as Mark was falling into his first sleep, and dreaming of
smothering.

Helen would not have acknowledged it, and yet it was a truth not to be
denied, that she stayed next morning a much longer time than usual
before her glass, arranging her hair, which was worn more becomingly
than on the previous night, softening the somewhat too intellectual
expression of her face, and making her seem more womanly and modest.
Once she thought to wear the light buff gown in which she looked so
well, but the thought was repudiated as soon as formed, and donning the
same dark calico she would have worn if Mark had not been there, she
finished her simple toilet and went downstairs, just as Mark came in at
the side door, his hands full of water lilies and his boots bearing
marks of what he had been through to get them.

"Early country air is healthful," he said, "and as I do not often have a
chance to try it I thought I would improve the present opportunity! So I
have been down by the pond, and spying these lilies I persevered until I
reached them, in spite of mud and mire. There is no blossom I like so
well. Were I a young girl I would always wear one in my hair, just as
your sister did one night at Newport, and I never saw her look better.
Just let me try the effect on you;" and selecting a half-opened bud,
Mark placed it among Helen's braids as if hairdressing were one of his
accomplishments. "The effect is good," he continued, turning her
blushing face to the glass and asking if it were not.

"Yes," Helen stammered, seeing more the saucy eyes looking over her head
than the lily in her hair. "Yes, good enough, but hardly in keeping with
this old dress," and vanity whispered the wish that the buff had really
been worn.

"Your dress is suitable for morning, I am sure," Mark replied, turning
a little more to the right the lily and noticing as he did so how very
white and pretty was the neck and throat seen above the collar.

Mark liked a pretty neck, and he was glad to know that Helen had one,
though why he should care was a puzzle. He could hardly have analyzed
his feelings then, or told what he did think of Helen. He only knew
that by her efforts to repel him she attracted him the more, she was so
different from any young ladies he had known; so different from Juno,
into whose hair he had never twined a water lily. It would not become
her as it did Helen, he thought, as he sat opposite her at the table,
admiring his handiwork, which even Aunt Betsy observed, remarking that
"Helen was mightily spruced up for morning," a compliment which Helen
acknowledged with a painful blush, while Mark began a disquisition upon
the nature of lilies generally, which lasted until breakfast was ended.

It was arranged that Mark should ride to the cars with Uncle Ephraim
when he went for Katy, and as this gave him a good two hours of leisure,
he spoke of Dr. Grant, asking Helen if she did not suppose he would call
around. Helen thought it possible, and then remembering how many things
were to be done that morning, she excused herself from the parlor, and
repairing to the platform out by the back door, where it was shady and
cool, she tied on a broad check apron, and rolling her sleeves above her
elbows, was just bringing the churn-dasher to bear vigorously upon the
thick cream she was turning into butter, when, having finished his
cigar, Mark went out into the yard, and following the winding path came
suddenly upon her. Helen's first impulse was to stop, but with a strong
nerving of herself she kept on while Mark, coming as near as he dared,
said to her: "Why do you do that? Is there no one else?"

"No," Helen answered; "that is, we keep no servant, and my young arms
are stronger than the others."

"And mine are stronger still," Mark laughingly rejoined, as he put Helen
aside and plied the dasher himself, in spite of her protestations that
he would certainly ruin his clothes.

"Tie that apron around me, then," he said, with the utmost nonchalance,
and Helen obeyed, tying her check apron around the young man's neck, who
felt her hands as they touched his hair and knew that they were brushing
queer fancies into his brain, fancies which made him wonder what his
mother would think of Helen, or what she would say if she knew just how
he was occupied that morning, absolutely churning cream until it turned
to butter, for Mark persisted until the task was done, standing by while
Helen gathered up the golden lumps, and admiring her plump, round arms
quite as much as he had done her neck.

She would be a belle like her sister, though of a different stamp, he
thought, as he again bent down his head while she removed the apron and
disclosed more than one big spot upon his broadcloth. Mark assured her
that it did not matter; his coat was nearly worn out; and anyway he
never should regret that he had churned once in his life, or forget
it either; and then he asked if Helen would be in New York the coming
winter, talking of the pleasure it would be to meet her there until
Helen herself began to feel what she never before had felt, a desire to
visit Katy in her own home.

"Remember if you come that I am your debtor for numerous hospitalities,"
he said, when he at last bade her good-by, and sprang into the covered
buggy, which Uncle Ephraim had brought out in honor of Katy's arrival.

       *       *       *       *       *

Old Whitey was hitched at a safe distance from all possible harm. Uncle
Ephraim had returned from the store nearby, laden with the six pounds
of crush sugar and the two pounds of real old Java, he had been
commissioned to purchase with a view to Katy's taste, and now upon the
platform at West Silverton, he stood with Mark Ray, waiting for the
arrival of the train just appearing in view across the level plain.

"It's fifteen months since she went away," he said, and Mark saw that
the old man's form trembled with the excitement of meeting her again,
while his eyes scanned eagerly every window and door of the cars now
slowly stopping before him. "There, there," and he laid his hand
nervously on Mark's shoulder as a white, jaunty feather appeared in
view; but no, that was not Katy, and the dim eyes ran again along the
whole line of the cars, from which so many were alighting, for that was
an eating house.

But Katy did not come, and with a long breath of wonder and
disappointment the deacon said: "Can it be she is asleep. Young
man, you are spryer than I. Go through the cars and find her."

Mark knew there was plenty of time, and so he made the tour of the cars,
but found, alas! no Katy.

"She's not there," was the report carried to the poor old man, who
tremblingly repeated his words: "Not there, not come," while over his
aged face there broke a look of touching sadness, which Mark never
forgot, remembering it always just as he remembered the big tear drops
which from his seat by the window he saw the old man wipe away with his
coat sleeve, whispering softly to Whitey of his disappointment as he
unhitched the horse and drove away alone.

"Maybe she's writ. I'll go and see," he said, and driving to their
regular office he found a letter directed by Wilford Cameron, but
written by Katy.

This last he knew, for he tore the envelope open; but he could not read
it then, and thrusting it into his pocket he went slowly back to the
home where the tempting dinner was prepared, and the family waiting
so eagerly for him. Even before he reached there they knew of the
disappointment, for from the garret window Helen had watched the road by
which he would come, and when the buggy appeared in sight she saw he was
alone.

There was a mistake; Katy had missed the train, she said to her mother
and aunts, who hoped she might be right. But Katy had not missed the
train, as was indicated by the letter which Uncle Ephraim without a word
put into Helen's hand, leaning on old Whitey's neck while she read aloud
the attempt at an explanation which Katy had hurried written, a stain on
the paper where a tear had fallen attesting her distress at the bitter
disappointment.

"Wilford did not know of the other letter," she said, "and had made
arrangements for her to go back with him to New York, inasmuch as the
house was already opened, and the servants there wanting ahead; besides
that, Wilford had been absent so long that he could not possibly stop at
Silverton himself, and as he would not think of living without her, even
for a few days, there was no alternative but for her to go with him on
the boat directly to New York. I am sorry, oh, so sorry, but indeed I
am not to blame," she added, in conclusion, and this was the nearest
approach there was to an admission that anybody was to blame for this
disappointment which cut so cruelly, making even Uncle Ephraim cry as
out in the barn he hung away the mended harness and covered the new
buggy, which had been bought for naught.

"I might have had the overcoat, for Katy will never come home again,
never. God grant that it's the Cameron pride, not hers, that kept her
from us," the old man said, as on the hay he knelt down and prayed that
Katy had not learned to despise the home where she was so beloved.

"Katy will never come to us again," seemed the prevailing opinion at
Silverton, where more than Uncle Ephraim felt a chilling doubt at times
as to whether she really wished to come or not. If she did, it seemed
easy of accomplishment to those who knew not how perfect and complete
were the fetters thrown around her, and how unbending the will which
governed hers. Could they have seen the look in Katy's face when she
first understood that she was not going to Silverton, their hearts would
have bled for the thwarted creature who fled up the stairs to her own
room, where Esther found her twenty minutes later, cold and fainting
upon the bed, her face as white as ashes, and her hands clinched so
tightly that the nails left marks upon the palms.

"It was not strange that the poor child should faint--indeed, it was
only natural that nature should give way after so many weeks of gayety,
and she very far from being strong," Mrs. Cameron said to Wilford, who
was beginning to repent of his decision, and who but for that remark
perhaps might have revoked it.

Indeed, he made an attempt to do so when, as consciousness came back,
Katy lay so pale and still before him; but Katy did not understand him
or guess that he wished her to meet him more than half the way, and so
the verdict was unchanged, and in a kind of bewilderment, Katy wrote the
hurried letter, feeling less actual pain than did its readers, for the
disappointment had stunned her for a time, and all she could remember of
the passage home on that same night when Mark Ray sat with Helen in the
sitting-room at Silverton, was that there was a fearful storm of rain
mingled with lightning flashes and thunder peals, which terrified the
other ladies, but brought to her no other sensation save that it would
not be so very hard to perish in the dark waters dashing so madly about
the vessel's side.



CHAPTER XXI.

A NEW LIFE.


"NEW YORK, December 16th.
"To Miss HELEN LENNOX, Silverton, Mass.:

"Your sister is very ill. Come as soon as possible.

"W. CAMERON."

This was the purport of a telegram received at the farmhouse toward the
close of a chill December day, and Helen's heart almost stopped its
beating as she read it aloud, and then looked in the white, scared faces
of those around her. Katy was very ill--dying, perhaps--or Wilford had
never telegraphed. What could it be? What was the matter? Had it been
somewhat later, they would have known; but now all was conjecture worse
than useless, and in a half-distracted state Helen made her hasty
preparations for the journey on the morrow, and then sent for Morris,
hoping he might offer some advice or suggestion for her to carry to that
sickroom in New York.

"Perhaps you will go with me," Helen said. "You know Katy's
constitution. You might save her life."

But Morris shook his head. If he was needed they might send and he would
come, but not without; and so next day he carried Helen to the cars,
saying to her, as they were waiting for the train: "I hope for the best,
but it may be Katy will die. If you think so, tell her. Oh, tell her! of
the better world, and ask if she is prepared. I cannot lose her in
heaven."

And this was all the message Morris sent, though his heart and prayers
went after the rapid train which bore Helen safely onward, until
Hartford was reached, where there was a long detention, so that the
dark wintry night had closed over the city ere Helen had reached it,
timid, anxious, and wondering what she should do if Wilford was not
there to meet her. "He will be, of course," she kept repeating to
herself, looking around in dismay, as passenger after passenger left,
seeking in stages and street cars a swifter passage to their homes.

"I shall soon be all alone," she said, feeling some relief as the car in
which she was seated began at last to move, and she knew she was being
taken whither the others had gone, wherever that might be.

"Is Miss Helen Lennox here?" sounded cheerily in her ears as she stopped
before the depot, and Helen uttered a cry of joy, for she recognized the
voice of Mark Ray, who was soon grasping her hand, and trying to
reassure her, as he saw how she shrank from the noise and clamor of New
York, heard now for the first time. "Our carriage is here," he said, and
in a moment she found herself in a close-covered vehicle, with Mark
sitting opposite, tucking the warm blanket around her, asking if she
were cold, and paying those numberless little attentions so gratifying
to one always accustomed to act and think for herself.

Helen could not see Mark's face distinctly; but full of fear for Katy,
she fancied there was a sad tone in his voice, as if he were keeping
something back, something he dreaded to tell her; and then, as it
suddenly occurred to her that Wilford should have met her, not Mark, her
great fear found utterance in words, and leaning forward so that her
face almost touched Mark's, she said: "Tell me, Mr. Ray, is Katy dead?"

"Not dead, oh, no, nor yet very dangerous, my mother hopes; but she kept
asking for you, and so my--that is, Mr. Cameron, sent the telegram."

There was an ejaculatory prayer of thankfulness, and then Helen
continued: "Is it long since she was taken sick?"

"Her little daughter will be a week old to-morrow," Mark replied; while
Helen, with an exclamation of surprise she could not repress, sank back
into the corner, faint and giddy with the excitement of this fact, which
invested little Katy with a new dignity, but drew her, oh, so much
nearer to the sister who could scarcely wait for the carriage to stop,
so anxious was she to be where Katy was, to kiss her dear face once
more, and whisper the words of love she knew she must have longed to
hear.

Awe-struck, bewildered and half terrified, Helen looked up at the huge
brown structure, which Mark designated as "the place." It was so lofty,
so high, so like the Camerons, and so unlike the farmhouse far away,
that Helen trembled as she followed Mark into the rooms flooded with
light, and seeming to her like fairyland. They were so different from
anything she had imagined, so much handsomer than even Katy's vivid
descriptions had implied, that for the moment the sight took her breath
away, and she sank passively into the chair Mark brought for her,
himself taking her muff and tippet, and noting, as he did so, that they
were not mink, nor yet Russian sable, but well-worn, well-kept fitch,
such as Juno would laugh at and criticise. But Helen's dress was a
matter of small moment to Mark, as he thought more of the look in her
dark eyes as she said to him: "You are very kind, Mr. Ray. I cannot
thank you enough," than of all the furs in Broadway. This remark had
been wrung from Helen by the feeling of homesickness and desolation
which swept over her, as she thought how really alone she should be
there, in her sister's house, on this first night of her arrival, if
it were not for Mark, thus virtually taking the place of the
brother-in-law, who should have been there to greet her.

"He was with Mrs. Cameron," the servant said, and taking out a card Mark
wrote down a few words, and handing it to the servant who had been
looking curiously at Helen, he continued standing until a step was heard
on the stairs and Wilford came quietly in.

It was not a very loving meeting, but Helen was civil and Wilford was
polite, offering her his hand and asking some questions about her
journey.

"I was intending to meet you myself," he said, "but Mrs. Cameron does
not like me to leave her, and Mark kindly offered to take the trouble
off my hands."

This was the most gracious thing he had said; this the nearest approach
to friendliness, and Helen felt herself hating him less than she had
supposed she should. He was looking very pale and anxious, while there
was on his face the light of a new joy, as if the little life begun so
short a time ago had brought an added good to him, softening his haughty
manner and making him even endurable to the prejudiced sister watching
him so closely!

"Does Phillips know you are here?" he asked, answering his own query by
ringing the bell and bidding Esther, who appeared, tell Phillips that
Miss Lennox had arrived and wished for supper, explaining to Helen that
since Katy's illness they had dined at three, as that accommodated them
the best.

This done and Helen's baggage ordered to her room, he seemed to think he
had discharged his duty as host, and as Mark had left he began to grow
fidgety, for a _tête-à-tête_ with Helen was not what he desired. He had
said to her all he could think to say, for it never once occurred to him
to inquire after the deacon's family. He had asked for Dr. Grant, but
his solicitude went no further, and the inmates of the farmhouse might
have been dead and buried for aught he knew to the contrary. The
omission was not made purposely, but because he really did not feel
enough of interest in people so widely different from himself even to
ask for them, much less to suspect how Helen's blood boiled as she
detected the omission and imputed it to intended slight, feeling so glad
when he at last excused himself, saying he must go back to Katy, but
would send his mother down to see her. His mother. Then she was there,
the one whom Helen dreaded most of all, whom she had invested with every
possible terror, hoping now that she would not be in haste to come down.
She might have spared herself anxiety on this point, as the lady in
question was not anxious to meet a person who, could she have had her
way, would not have been there at all.

From the first moment of consciousness after the long hours of
suffering, Katy had asked for Helen, rather than her mother, feeling
that the former would be more welcome, and could more easily conform
to their customs.

"Send for Helen; I am so tired, and she could always rest me," was her
reply, when asked by Wilford what he could do for her. "Send for Helen;
I want her so much," she had said to Mrs. Cameron, when she came,
repeating the wish until a consultation was held between the mother and
son, touching the propriety of sending for Helen. "She would be of no
use whatever, and might excite our Katy. Quiet is highly important just
now," Mrs. Cameron had said, thus veiling under pretended concern for
Katy her aversion to the girl whose independence in declining her
dressmaker had never been forgiven, and whom she had set down in her
mind as rude and ignorant.

She was well suited with Katy now, petting and caressing and talking
constantly of her; but it did not follow that she must like the sister,
too, and so she checked the impulse which would have prompted Wilford to
send for her as Katy so much desired.

"If her coming would do Katy harm she ought not to come," and so
Wilford's conscience was partially quieted, white Katy in her darkened
room moaned on.

"Send for Sister Helen, please send for Sister Helen."

At last on the fourth day came Mrs. Banker, Mark Ray's mother, to the
house, and in consideration of the strong liking she had evinced for
Katy ever since her arrival in New York, and the great respect felt for
her by Mrs. Cameron, she was admitted to the chamber and heard the
plaintive pleadings: "Send for Sister Helen," until her motherly heart
was touched, and as she sat with her son at dinner she spoke of the
young girl-mother moaning so for Helen.

Whether it was Mark's great pity for Katy, or whether he was prompted
by some more selfish motive, we do not profess to say, but that he was
greatly excited was very evident from his manner, as he exclaimed:

"Why not send for Helen, then? She is a splendid girl, and they idolize
each other. Talk of her injuring Katy, that's all a humbug. She is just
fitted for a nurse. Almost the sight of her would cure one of
nervousness, she is so calm and quiet."

This was what Mark said, and again the next morning Mrs. Banker's
carriage stood at the door of No. ---- Madison Square, while Mrs. Banker
herself was talking to Wilford in the library, and urging that Helen be
sent for at once.

"It may save her life. She is more feverish to-day than yesterday, and
this constant asking for her sister will wear her out so fast," she
added, and that last argument prevailed.

Helen was sent for and now sat waiting in the parlor for the coming of
Mrs. Cameron. Wilford did not mean Katy to hear him as he whispered to
his mother that Helen was below; but she did, and her blue eyes flashed
brightly as she started from her pillow, exclaiming:

"I am so glad, so glad. Kiss me, Wilford, because I am so glad. Does she
know? Have you told her? Wasn't she surprised, and will she come up
quick?"

They could not quiet her at once, and only the assurance that unless she
were more composed Helen should not see her that night had any effect
upon her; but when they told her that, she lay back upon her pillow
submissively, and Wilford saw the great tears dropping from her hot
cheeks, while the pallid lips kept softly whispering "Helen." Then the
sister love took another channel, and she said:

"She has not been to supper, and Phillips is always cross at extras.
Will somebody see to it? Send Esther to me, please. Esther knows and is
good-natured."

"Mother will do all that is necessary. She is going down," Wilford said;
but Katy had quite as much fear of leaving Helen to "mother" as to
Phillips, and insisted upon Esther until the latter came, receiving
numerous injunctions as to the jam, the sweetmeats, the peaches and the
cold ham Helen must have, each one being remembered as her favorite.

Wholly unselfish, Katy thought nothing of herself or the effort it cost
her thus to care for Helen, but when it was over and Esther had gone,
she seemed so utterly exhausted that Mrs. Cameron did not leave her, but
stayed at her bedside, ministering to her until the extreme paleness was
gone, and her eyes were more natural. Meanwhile the supper, which as
Katy feared had made Phillips cross, had been arranged by Esther, who
conducted Helen to the dining-room, herself standing by and waiting upon
her because the one whose duty it was had gone out for the evening, and
Phillips had declined the "honor," as she styled it.

There was a homesick feeling tugging at Helen's heart, while she tried
to eat, and only the certainty that Katy was not far away kept her tears
back. To her the very grandeur of the house made it desolate, and she
was so glad it was Katy who lived there and not herself as she went up
the soft carpeted stairway, which gave back no sound, and through the
marble hall to the parlor, where by the table on which her cloak and
furs were still lying, a lady stood, as dignified and unconscious as
if she had not been inspecting the self-same fur which Mark Ray had
observed, but not like him thinking it did not matter, for it did matter
very materially with her, and a smile of contempt had curled her lip as
she turned over the tippet which even Phillips would not have worn.

"I wonder how long she means to stay, and if Wilford will have to take
her out," she was thinking, just as Helen appeared in the door and
advanced into the room.

By herself, it was easy to slight Helen Lennox, but in her presence Mrs.
Cameron found it very hard to appear as cold and distant as she had
meant to do, for there was something about Helen which commanded her
respect, and she went forward to meet her, offering her hand, and
saying, cordially:

"Miss Lennox, I presume--my daughter Katy's sister?"

Helen had not expected this, and the warm flush which came to her cheeks
made her very handsome, as she returned Mrs. Cameron's greeting, and
then asked more particularly for Katy than she had yet done. For a while
they talked together, Mrs. Cameron noting carefully every item of
Helen's attire, as well as the purity of her language and her perfect
repose of manner after the first stiffness had passed away.

"Naturally a lady as well as Katy; there must be good blood somewhere,
probably on the Lennox side," was Mrs. Cameron's private opinion, while
Helen, after a few moments, began to feel far more at ease with Mrs.
Cameron than she had done in the dining-room with Esther, waiting on
her, and the cross Phillips stalking once through the room for no
ostensible purpose except to get a sight of her.

Helen wondered at herself as much as Mrs. Cameron wondered at her,
trying to decide whether it were ignorance, conceit, obtuseness, or
what, which made her so self-possessed when she was expected to appear
so different.

"Strong-minded," was her final decision, as she said at last: "We
promised Katy she should see you to-night. Will you go now?"

Then the color left Helen's face and lips, and her limbs shook
perceptibly, for the knowing she was soon to meet her sister unnerved
her; but by the time the door of Katy's room was reached she was herself
again, and there was no need for Mrs. Cameron to whisper: "Pray do not
excite her."

Katy heard her coming, and it required all Wilford's and the nurse's
efforts to keep her quiet, so great was her joy.

"Helen, Helen, darling, darling sister," she cried, as she wound her
arms around Helen's neck, and laid her golden head on Helen's bosom,
sobbing in a low, mournful way which told Helen more how much she was
beloved and had been longed for than did the weak, childish voice which
whispered: "I've wanted you so much, oh, Helen; you don't know how much
I've missed you all the years I've been away. You will not leave me
now," and Katy clung closer to the dear sister who gently unclasped the
clinging arms and put back upon the pillow the quivering face, which she
kissed so tenderly, whispering in her own old half-soothing,
half-commanding way: "Be quiet now, Katy. It's best that you should.
No, I will not leave you."

Next to Dr. Grant, Helen had more influence over Katy than any living
being, and it was very apparent now, for as if her presence had a power
to soothe, Katy grew very quiet, and utterly wearied out, slept for a
few moments with Helen's hand fast locked in hers. When she awoke the
tired look was gone, and turning to her sister, she said: "Have you seen
my baby?" while the young mother love which broke so beautifully over
her pale face, made it the face of an angel.

"It seems so funny that it is Katy's baby," Helen said, taking the puny
little thing, which with its wrinkled face and red, clinched fists was
not very attractive to her, save as she looked at it with Katy's eyes.

She did not even kiss it, but her tears dropped upon its head as she
thought how short the time since up in the old garret at home she had
dressed rag dolls for the Katy who was now a mother. And still in a
measure she was the same, hugging Helen fondly when she said good-night,
and welcoming her so joyfully in the morning when she came again,
telling her how just the sight of her sitting there by baby's crib
did her so much good.

"I shall get well so fast," she said; and she was right, for Helen was
worth far more to her than all the physician's powders, and Wilford,
when he saw how she improved, was glad that Helen came, even if she did
sometimes shock him with her independent ways, upsetting all his plans
and theories with regard to Katy, and meeting him on other grounds with
an opposition as puzzling as it was new to him.

To Mrs. Cameron, Helen was also a study, she seemed to care so little
for what others might think of her, evincing no hesitation, no timidity,
when told one day, the second day after her arrival, that Mrs. Banker
was in the parlor and had asked to see Miss Lennox. Mrs. Cameron did not
suspect how under that calm, unmoved exterior, Helen was hiding a heart
which beat most painfully as she went down to meet the mother of Mark
Ray, going first to her own room to make some little change in her
toilet, and wishing that her dress was more like the dress of those
around her--like Mrs. Cameron's, or even Esther's and the fashionable
nurse's. One glance she gave to the brown silk, Wilford's gift, but her
good sense told her that the plain merino she wore was far more suitable
to the sickroom, where she spent her time, and so with a fresh collar
and cuffs, and another brush of her rich hair, she went to Mrs. Banker,
forgetting herself in her pleasure at finding in the stranger a lady so
wholly congenial and familiar, whose mild, dark eyes, so like Mark
Ray's, rested so kindly on her, and whose pleasant voice had something
motherly in its tone, putting her wholly at her ease, and making her
appear at her very best.

Mrs. Banker was pleased with Helen, while she felt a kind of pity for
the young girl thrown so suddenly among strangers, without even her
sister to aid and assist her.

"Have you been out at all?" she asked, and upon Helen's replying that
she had not, she answered: "That is not right. Accustomed to the fresh
country air, you will suffer from too close confinement. Suppose you
ride with me. My carriage is at the door, and I have a few hours'
leisure. Tell your sister I insist," she continued, as Helen hesitated
between inclination and what she fancied was her duty.

To see New York with Mrs. Banker was a treat indeed, and Helen's heart
bounded high as she ran up to Katy's room with the request.

"Yes, by all means," Katy said. "It is so kind in Mrs. Banker, and so
like her, too. I meant that Wilford should have driven with you to-day,
and spoke to him about it, but Mrs. Banker will do better. Tell her I
thank her so much for her thoughtfulness," and with a kiss Katy sent
Helen away, while Mrs. Cameron, after twisting her rings nervously for
a moment, said to Katy:

"Perhaps your sister would do well to wear your furs. Hers are small and
common fitch."

"Yes, certainly. Take them to her," Katy answered, knowing intuitively
the feeling which had prompted this suggestion from her mother-in-law,
who hastened to Helen's room with the rich sable she was to wear in
place of the old fitch.

Helen appreciated the difference at once between her furs and Katy's,
and felt a pang of mortification as she saw how old and poor and dowdy
hers were beside the others. But they were her own; the best she could
afford. She would not begin by borrowing, and so she declined the offer,
and greatly to Mrs. Cameron's horror went down to Mrs. Banker clad in
the despised furs, which Mrs. Cameron would on no account have had
beside her on Broadway in an open carriage. Mrs. Banker noticed them,
too, but the eager, happy face, which grew each moment brighter as they
drove down the street, more than made amends; and in watching that and
pointing out the places which they passed, Mrs. Banker forgot the furs
and the coarse straw hat whose strings of black had undeniably been
dyed. Never in her life had Helen enjoyed a ride as she did that
pleasant winter day, when her kind friend took her wherever she wished
to go, showing her Broadway in its glory from Union Square to Wall
Street, where they encountered Mark in a bustling crowd. He saw them,
too, and beckoned to them, while Helen's face grew red as, lifting his
hat to her, he came up to the carriage, and at his mother's suggestion
took a seat just opposite, asking where they had been and jocosely
laughing at his mother's taste in selecting such localities as the
Bowery, the Tombs and Barnum's Museum, when there were so many finer
places to be seen.

Helen felt the hot blood pricking the roots of her hair, for the Bowery,
the Tombs and Barnum's Museum had been her choice as the points of which
she had heard the most. So when Mark continued:

"You shall ride with me, Miss Lennox, and I will show you something
worth your seeing," she frankly answered:

"Your mother is not in fault, Mr. Ray. She asked me where I wished to
go, and I mentioned these places; so please attribute it wholly to my
country breeding, and not to your mother's lack of taste."

There was something in the frank speech which won Mrs. Banker's heart,
while she felt an increased respect for the young girl, who, she saw,
was keenly sensitive, even with all her strength of character.

"You were quite right to commence as you have," she said, "for now you
have a still greater treat in store, and Mark shall drive you to the
park some day. I know you will like that."

Helen felt that she should like anything with that friendly voice to
reassure her, and leaning back she was thinking how pleasant it was to
be in New York, how different from what she had expected, when a bow
from Mark made her look up in time to see that they were meeting a
carriage, in which sat Wilford, and with two gayly-dressed ladies, both
of whom gave her a supercilious stare as they passed by, while the
younger of the two half turned her head, as if for a more prolonged
gaze.

"Mrs. Grandon and Juno Cameron," Mrs. Banker said, making some further
remark to her son; while Helen felt that the brightness of the day
changed, for she could not be unconscious of the look with which she had
been regarded by these two fashionable ladies, and again her furs came
up before her, bringing a feeling of which she was ashamed, especially
as she had fancied herself above all weakness of the kind.

But Helen was a woman, with a woman's nature, and so that ride was not
without its annoyance, though her face was very bright as she bade Mrs.
Banker and Mark good-by, and then ran up the steps to Katy's home. That
night at the dinner, from which Mrs. Cameron was absent, Wilford was
unusually gracious, asking "had she enjoyed her ride, and if she did
not find Mrs. Banker a very pleasant acquaintance."

The fact was, Wilford felt a little uncomfortable himself for having
suffered a stranger to do for Katy's sister what devolved upon himself.
Katy had asked him to drive with Helen; but he had found it very
convenient to forget it, and take a seat instead with Juno and Mrs.
Grandon, the latter of whom complimented "Miss Lennox's fine
intellectual face," after they had passed, and complimented it the more
as she saw how it vexed Juno, who could see nothing "in those bold eyes
and that masculine forehead," just because their _vis-à-vis_ chanced to
be Mark Ray's. Juno was not pleased with Helen's first appearance in the
street, but nevertheless she called upon her next day, with Sybil
Grandon and her sister, Bell. To this she was urged by Sybil, who,
having a somewhat larger experience of human nature, foresaw that Helen
would be popular just because Mrs. Banker had thus early taken her up,
and who, besides, had conceived a capricious fancy to patronize Miss
Lennox. But in this she was foiled, for Helen was not to be patronized,
and she received her visitors with that calm, assured manner so much a
part of herself.

"Diamond cut diamond," Bell thought, as she saw how frigidly polite
both Juno and Helen were, each recognizing in the other something
antagonistic, which could never harmonize.

Had Juno never cared for Dr. Grant, or suspected Helen of standing
between herself and him, and had Mark Ray never stopped at Silverton, or
been seen on Broadway with her, she might have judged her differently,
for there was something attractive in Helen's face and appearance as
she sat talking to her guests, not awkwardly nor timidly, but with as
much quiet dignity as if she had never mended Uncle Ephraim's socks, or
made a pound of butter among the huckleberry hills. Bell was delighted,
detecting at once traces of the rare mind which Helen Lennox possessed,
and wondering to find it so.

"I hope we shall see each other often," she said, at parting. "I do not
go out a great deal myself--that is, not as much as Juno--but I shall be
always glad to welcome you to my den. You may find something there to
interest you."

This was Bell's leave-taking, while Sybil's was, if possible, even more
friendly, for aside from really fancying Helen, she took a perverse kind
of pleasure in annoying Juno, who wondered "what she or Bell could see
to like in that awkward country girl, whom she knew had on one of Katy's
cast-off collars, and her wardrobe was the most ordinary she ever saw;
fitch furs, think of that!" and Juno gave a little pull at the
fastenings of her rich ermine collar, showing so well over her velvet
basquine.

"Fitch furs or not, they rode with Mark Ray on Broadway," Bell retorted,
with a wicked look in her eyes, which aroused Juno to a still higher
pitch of anger, so that by the time the carriage stopped at No. ----,
the young lady was in a most unamiable frame of mind as regarded both
Helen Lennox and the offending Mark.

That evening there was at Mrs. Reynolds' a little company of thirty
or more, and as Mark was present, Juno seized the opportunity for
ascertaining, if possible, his real opinion of Helen Lennox, joking him
first about his having taken her to ride so soon, and insinuating that
he must have a penchant for every new and pretty face.

"Then you think her pretty? You have called on her?" Mark replied, his
manner evincing so much pleasure that Juno bit her lip to keep down her
wrath, and flashing upon him her scornful eyes, replied: "Yes, Sybil and
Bell insisted that I should. Of myself I would never have done it, for I
have now more acquaintances than I can attend to, and do not care to
increase the list. Besides that, I do not imagine that Miss Lennox can
in any way add to my happiness, brought up as she has been among the
woods and hills, you know."

"Yes, I have been there--to her home, I mean," Mark rejoined, and Juno
continued:

"Only for a moment, though. You should have stayed, like Will, to
appreciate it fully. I wish you could hear him describe the feather beds
in which he slept--that is, describe them before he decided to take
Katy; for after that he was chary of his remarks, and the feathers by
some marvelous process were changed into hair, for what he knew or
cared."

Mark hesitated a moment, and then said, quietly:

"I have stayed there all night, and have tested that feather bed, but
found nothing disparaging to Helen, who was as much a lady in the
farmhouse as here in the city."

There was a look of withering scorn on Juno's face as she replied:

"As much a lady as here! That may very well be; but, pray, how long
since you took to visiting Silverton so frequently--becoming so familiar
as to spend the night?"

There was no mistaking the jealousy which betrayed itself into every
tone of Juno's voice as she stood before Mark a fit picture of the
enraged goddess whose name she bore. Soon recollecting herself, however,
she changed her mode of attack, and said, laughingly:

"Seriously, though, this Miss Lennox seems a very nice girl, and is
admirably fitted, I think, for the position she is to fill--that of a
country physician's wife," and in the black eyes there was a wicked
sparkle as Juno saw that her meaning was readily understood, Mark
looking quickly at her and asking if she referred to Dr. Grant.

"Certainly; I imagine that was settled as long ago as we met him in
Paris. Once I thought it might have been our Katy, but was mistaken. I
think the doctor and Miss Lennox well adapted to each other--it is an
excellent match."

There was for a moment a dull, heavy pain at Mark's heart, caused by
that little item of information which made him so uncomfortable. On the
whole he did not doubt it, for everything he could recall of Morris had
a tendency to strengthen the belief. Nothing could he more probable,
thrown together as they had been, without other congenial society, and
nothing could be more suitable.

"They are well matched," Mark thought, as he walked listlessly through
Mrs. Reynolds' parlors, seeing only one face, and that the face of Helen
Lennox, with the lily in her hair, just as it looked when she had tied
the apron about his neck and laughed at his appearance.

Helen was not the ideal which in his boyhood Mark had cherished of the
one who was to be his wife, for that was of a more brilliant, beautiful
woman, a woman more like Juno, with whom he had always been on the best
of terms, giving her some reason, it is true, for believing herself the
favored one; but ideals change as years go on, and Helen Lennox had more
attractions for him now than the most dashing belle of his acquaintance.

"I do not believe I am in love with her," he said to himself that night,
when, after his return from Mrs. Reynolds' he sat for a long time before
the fire in his dressing-room, cogitating upon what he had heard, and
wondering why it should affect him so much. "Of course I am not," he
continued, feeling the necessity of reiterating the assertion by way of
making himself believe it. "She is not at all what I used to imagine the
future Mrs. Mark Ray to be. Half my friends would say she had no style,
no beauty, and perhaps she has not. Certainly she does not look just
like the ladies at Mrs. Reynolds' to-night, but give her the same
advantages and she would surpass them all."

And then Mark Ray went off into a reverie, in which he saw Helen Lennox
his wife, and with the aids by which he would surround her rapidly
developing into as splendid a woman as little Katy Cameron, who did not
need to be developed, but took all hearts at once by that natural,
witching grace so much a part of herself. It was a very pleasant picture
which Mark painted upon the mental canvas; but there came a great blur
blotting out its brightness as he remembered Dr. Grant, and felt that
Linwood was one day to be Helen's home.

"But it shall not interfere with my being just as kind to her as before.
She will need some attendant here, and Wilford, I know, will be glad to
shove her off his hands. He is so infernal proud," Mark said, and taking
a fresh cigar he finished his reverie with the magnanimous resolve that
were Helen a hundred times engaged she should be his especial care
during her sojourn in New York.



CHAPTER XXII.

HELEN IN SOCIETY.


It was three days before Christmas, and Katy was talking confidentially
to Mrs. Banker, whom she had asked to see the next time she should call.

"I want so much to surprise her," she said, speaking in a whisper, "and
you have been so kind to us both that I thought it might not trouble you
very much if I asked you to make the selection for me, and see to the
engraving. Wilford gave me fifty dollars, all I needed, as I had fifty
more of my own, and now that I have a baby, I am sure I shall never
again care to go out. My darling baby, how small the whole world seems
to me now when compared with her," and the little mother glanced
lovingly at the crib where slept the baby, worth more than all the
world.

"Yes," Mrs. Banker said, thoughtfully, as she rolled up the bills,
"you wish me to get as heavy bracelets as I can find--for the hundred
dollars."

"Yes," Katy replied, "I think that will please her, don't you?"

Mrs. Banker knew Katy's fondness for jewelry, and knowing, too, that her
girlhood was spent in comparative poverty, she could readily understand
how she would gratify her taste when circumstances were favorable; but
Helen was different, and she felt certain that the hundred dollars could
be spent to better advantage and in a manner more satisfactory to her.
Still she hardly liked to interfere until Katy, observing her hesitancy,
asked again if she did not think Helen would be pleased.

"Yes, pleased with anything you choose to give her, but--excuse me, dear
Mrs. Cameron, if I speak as openly as if I were the mother of you both.
Bracelets are suitable for you who can have everything else, but is
there not something your sister needs more, something which will do more
good? Now, allowing me to suggest, I should say, buy her some furs, and
let the bracelets go. In Silverton her furs were well enough, but here,
as the sister of Mrs. Wilford Cameron, she is deserving of better."

It was the first time that Katy had thought that in New York her sister
might need more than at home. Seeing her only in the dim sickroom, the
contrast between Helen and her and her husband's sisters had not struck
her, or if it had, she gave the preference to Helen in her dark merino
and linen collar, rather than to Juno in her silks and velvet; but she
understood Mrs. Banker at once, her cheeks reddening as there flashed
upon her the reason why Wilford had never yet been in the street with
Helen, notwithstanding that she had more than once requested it.

"You are right," she said. "It was thoughtless in me not to think of
this myself. Helen shall have the furs, and whatever else is necessary.
I am so glad you reminded me of it. You are kind as my own mother," and
Katy kissed her friend fondly as she bade her good-by, charging her a
dozen times not to let Helen know the surprise in store for her.

There was little need of this caution, for Mrs. Banker understood human
nature too well to divulge a matter which might wound one as sensitive
as Helen. Between the latter and herself there was a strong bond of
friendship, and to the kind patronage of this lady Helen owed most of
the attentions she had as yet received from her sister's friends; while
Mark Ray did much toward lifting her to the place she held in spite of
the common country dress, which Juno unsparingly criticised, and which,
in fact, kept Wilford from taking her out, as his wife so often asked
him to do. And Helen, too, keenly felt the difference between herself
and those with whom she came in contact, crying over it more than once,
but never dreaming of the surprise in store for her, when on Christmas
morning she went as usual to Katy's room, finding her alone, her face
all aglow with excitement, and her bed a perfect showcase of dry goods,
which she bade Helen examine and say how she liked them.

Wilford was no niggard with his money, and when Katy had asked for more,
it had been given unsparingly, even though he knew the purpose to which
it was to be applied.

"Oh, Katy, Katy, why did you do it?" Helen cried, her tears falling
like rain through the fingers she clasped over her eyes.

"You are not angry?" Katy said, in some dismay, as Helen continued to
sob without looking at the handsome furs, the stylish hat, the pretty
cloak, and rich patterns of blue and black silk, which Mrs. Banker had
selected.

"No, oh, no!" Helen replied. "I know it was all meant well; but there is
something in me which rebels against taking this from Wilford. He had
better have sent to Silverton for that trunk. Its contents have never
been disturbed, and surely there might be something found good enough
for me."

It was the first time Helen had alluded to that trunk; but Katy did not
think that anything ill-natured was meant by the remark. She only felt
that Helen shrank from receiving so much from Wilford, as it was natural
she should, and she hastened to reassure her, using all her powers to
comfort her until she at last grew calm enough to examine and admire the
Christmas gifts upon which no expense had been spared. Much as we may
ignore dress, and sinful as is an inordinate love for it, there is yet
about it an influence for good, when the heart of the wearer is right,
holding it subservient to all higher, holier affections. At least Helen
Lennox found it so, when, clad in her new garments, which added so much
to her good looks, she drove with Mrs. Banker, or returned Sybil
Grandon's call, feeling that there was about her nothing for which Katy
need to blush, or even Wilford, who blandly invited her one pleasant day
to drive with him to the Park, seeming so disappointed when told that he
had been forestalled by Mr. Ray, whose fine turnout attracted less
attention that afternoon than did the handsome lady at his side, Helen
Lennox, who bade fair to rival even her Sister Katy tarrying at home,
and listening with delight to the flattering things which Wilford
reported as having been said of Helen by those for whose opinion he
cared the most. He was not afraid to be seen with her now, and Helen,
while knowing the reason of the change, did not feel like quarreling
with him for it, but accepted with a good-natured grace of what made her
life in New York very happy. With Bell Cameron she was on the best of
terms; while Sybil Grandon, always going with the tide, professed for
her an admiration, which, whether fancied or real, did much toward
making her popular; and when, as the mistress of her brother's house,
she issued cards of invitation for a large party, she took especial
pains to insist upon Helen's attending, even if Katy were not able. But
from this Helen shrank. She could not meet so many strangers alone, she
said, and so the matter was dropped, until Mrs. Banker offered to
chaperone her, when Helen began to waver, changing her mind at last
and promising to go.

Never since the days of her first party had Katy been so wild with
excitement as she was in deciding upon Helen's dress, which well became
the wearer, who scarcely knew herself when, before the mirror, with the
blaze of the chandelier falling upon her, she saw the picture of a young
girl arrayed in rich pink silk, with an overskirt of lace, and the light
pretty cloak, just thrown upon her uncovered neck, where Katy's pearls
were shining. Even Wilford was pleased, and stood by admiring her almost
as much as Katy.

"What would they say at home if they could only see you?" Katy
exclaimed, throwing back the handsome cloak so as to show more of the
well-shaped neck, gleaming so white beneath it.

"Aunt Betsy would say I had forgotten half my dress," Helen replied,
blushing as she glanced at the uncovered arms, which never since her
childhood had been thus exposed to view, except at such times as her
household duties had required it.

Even this exception would not apply to the low neck, at which Helen long
demurred, yielding finally to Katy's entreaties, but often wondering
what Mark Ray would think, and if he would not be shocked. Mark Ray had
been strangely blended with all Helen's thoughts as she submitted
herself to Esther's practiced hands, and when the hairdresser, summoned
to her aid, asked what flowers she would wear, it was a thought of him
which led her to select a single water lily, which looked as natural as
if its bed had really been the bosom of Fairy Pond.

"Nothing else? Surely mademoiselle will have these few green leaves?"
Celine had said, but Helen would have nothing save the lily, which was
twined tastefully amid the heavy braids of the brown hair, whose length
and luxuriance had thrown the hairdresser into ecstasies of delight,
and made Esther lament that in these days of false tresses no one would
give Miss Lennox credit for what was wholly her own.

"You will be the belle of the evening," Katy said, as she kissed her
sister good-night and then ran back to her baby, while Wilford, yielding
to her importunities that he should not remain with her, followed Mrs.
Banker's carriage in his own private conveyance, and was soon set down
at Sybil Grandon's door.

Meanwhile, at the elder Cameron's there had been a discussion touching
the propriety of their taking Helen under their protection, instead of
leaving her to Mrs. Banker to chaperone, Bell insisting that it ought to
be done, while the father swore roundly at the imperious Juno, who would
not "be bothered with that country girl."

"You would rather leave her wholly to Mark Ray and his mother, I
suppose," Bell said, adding, as she saw the flush on Juno's face. "You
know you are dying of jealousy, and nothing annoys you so much as to
hear people talk of Mark's attentions to Miss Lennox."

"Do they talk?" Mrs. Cameron asked quickly, while in her gray eyes there
gleamed a light far more dangerous and threatening to Helen than Juno's
open scorn.

Mrs. Cameron had long intended Mark Ray for her daughter, and accustomed
to see everything bend to her wishes, she had come to consider the
matter as almost certain, even though he had never proposed in words. He
had done everything else, she thought, attending Juno constantly and
frequenting their house so much that it was a standing joke for his
friends to seek him there when he was not at home or at his office.
Latterly, however, there had been a change, and the ambitious mother
could not deny that since Helen's arrival in New York Mark had visited
them less frequently and stayed a shorter time, while she had more than
once heard of him at her son's in company with Helen. Very rapidly a
train of thought passed through her mind; but it did not manifest itself
upon her face, which was composed and quiet as she decided with Juno
that Helen should not trouble them. With the utmost care Juno arrayed
herself for the party, thinking with a great deal of complacency how
impossible it was for Helen Lennox to compete with her in point of
dress.

"She is such a prude, I daresay she will go in that blue silk with the
long sleeves and high neck, looking like a Dutch doll," she said to
Bell, as she shook back the folds of her rich crimson, and turned her
head to see the effect of her wide braids of hair.

"I am not certain that a high dress is worse than bones," Bell retorted,
playfully touching Juno's neck, which, though white and gracefully
formed, was shockingly guiltless of flesh.

There was an angry reply, and then wrapping her cloak about her Juno
followed to their carriage, and was ere long one of the gay crowd
thronging Sybil Grandon's parlors. Helen had not yet arrived, and Juno
was hoping she would not come, when there was a stir at the door and
Mrs. Banker, in her velvet and diamonds, appeared, and with her Helen
Lennox, but so transformed that Juno hardly knew her, looking twice ere
she was sure that the beautiful young lady, so wholly self-possessed,
was indeed the country girl she affected to despise.

"Who is she?" was asked by many, who at once acknowledged her claims to
their attention, and as soon as practicable sought her acquaintance, so
that Helen suddenly found herself the center of a little court of which
she was the queen and Mark her sworn knight.

Presuming upon his mother's chaperonage, he claimed the right of
attending her, and Juno's glory waned quite as effectually as it had
done when Katy was the leading star to which New York paid homage.

Juno had been annoyed then, but now fierce jealousy took possession
of her heart as she watched the girl whom all seemed to admire, even
Wilford feeling a thrill of pride that the possession of so attractive
a sister-in-law reflected credit upon himself.

He was not ashamed of her now, nor did he retain a single thought of the
farmhouse or Uncle Ephraim as he made his way to her side, standing
protectingly at her left, just as Mark was standing at her right, and
at last asking her to dance.

With a heightened color Helen declined, saying frankly:

"I have never learned."

"You miss a great deal," Wilford rejoined, appealing to Mark for a
confirmation of his words.

But Mark did not heartily respond. He, too, had solicited Helen as a
partner when the dancing first commenced, and her quiet refusal had
disappointed him a little, for Mark was fond of dancing, and though
as a general thing he disapproved of waltzes and polkas when he was the
looker-on, he felt that there would be something vastly agreeable and
exhilarating in clasping Helen in his arm and whirling her about the
room just as Juno was being whirled by a young cadet, a friend of
Lieutenant Bob's. But when he reflected that not his arm alone would
encircle her waist, or his breath touch her snowy neck, he was glad she
did not dance, and professing a weariness he did not feel, he declined
to join the dancers on the floor, but kept with Helen, enjoying what she
enjoyed, and putting her so perfectly at her ease that no one would ever
have dreamed of the curdy cheeses she had made, or the pounds of butter
she had churned. But Mark thought of it as he secretly admired the neck
and arms seen once before on that memorable day when he assisted Helen
in the labors of the dairy. If nothing else had done so, the lily in
her hair would have brought that morning to his mind, and once as they
walked up and down the hall he spoke of the ornament she had chosen, and
how well it became her.

"Pond lilies are my pets," she said, "and I have kept one of those I
gathered last fall when at Silverton. Do you remember them?" and his
eyes rested upon Helen with a look that made her blush as she faintly
answered "yes"; but she did not tell him of a little box at home, a box
made of cones and acorns, and where was hidden a withered water lily,
which she could not throw away, even after its beauty and fragrance had
departed.

Had she told him this it might have put to flight the doubts troubling
Mark so much, and making him wonder if Dr. Grant had really a claim upon
the girl stealing his heart so fast.

"I mean to sound her," he thought, and as just then Lieutenant Bob
passed by, making some jocose remark about his offending all the fair
ones by the course he was taking, Mark said to Helen, who suggested
returning to the parlor:

"As you like, though it cannot matter; a person known to be engaged is
above Bob Reynolds' jokes."

Quick as thought the hot blood stained Helen's face and neck, for Mark
had made a most egregious blunder, giving her only the impression that
he was the engaged one referred to, not herself, and for a moment she
forgot the gay scene around her in the sharpness of the pang with which
she recognized all that Mark Ray was to her.

"It was kind in him to warn me. I wish it had been sooner," she thought,
and then with a bitter feeling of shame she wondered how much he had
guessed of her real feelings, and who the betrothed one was. "Not Juno
Cameron," she hoped, as after a few moments Mrs. Cameron came up, and
adroitly detaching Mark from her side, took his place while he sauntered
to a group of ladies and was ere long dancing merrily with Juno, whose
crimson robe once brushed against Helen's pink, and whose black eyes
looked exultingly into Helen's face.

"They are a well-matched pair," Mrs. Cameron said, assuming a very
confidential manner toward Helen, who assented to the remark, while the
lady continued: "There is but one thing wrong about Mark Ray. He is a
most unscrupulous flirt, pleased with every new face, and this of course
annoys Juno."

"Are they engaged?" came faintly and involuntarily from Helen's lips,
while Mrs. Cameron's foot beat the carpet with a very becoming
hesitancy, as she replied: "Oh, that was settled in our family a long
time ago. Wilford and Mark have always been like brothers."

If Helen had been on the watch for equivocations she would not have
placed as much stress as she did on Mrs. Cameron's words, for that lady
did not say positively "They are engaged." She could not quite bring
herself to a deliberate falsehood, which, if detected, would reflect
upon her character as a lady, but she could mislead Helen, and she did
so effectually, as was evinced by the red spot which burned on her
cheeks, and by her uncertain way of replying to a gentleman who stood by
her for a moment, addressing to her some casual remark and departing
with the impression that Miss Lennox was very timid and shy. After he
was gone, Mrs. Cameron continued, "It is not like us to bruit our
affairs abroad, and were my daughter ten times engaged, the world would
be none the wiser. I doubt if even Katy suspects what I have admitted;
but knowing how fascinating Mark can be, and that just at present he
seems to be pleased with you, I have acted as I should wish a friend to
act toward my own child. Were it not that you are one of our family, I
might not have interfered, and I trust you not to repeat even to Katy
what I have said."

Helen nodded assent, while in her heart was a wild tumult of
feelings--flattered pride, disappointment, indignation and mortification
all struggling for the mastery---mortification to feel that she who had
quietly ignored such a passion as love when connected with herself, had,
nevertheless, been pleased with the attentions of one who was only
amusing himself with her, as a child amuses itself with some new toy
soon to be thrown aside--indignation at him for vexing Juno at her
expense--disappointment that he should care for such as Juno, and
flattered pride that Mrs. Cameron should include her in "our family."
Helen had as few weak points as most young ladies, but she was not free
from them all, and the fact that Mrs. Cameron had taken her into a
confidence which even Katy did not share, was soothing to her ruffled
spirits, particularly as after that confidence Mrs. Cameron was
excessively gracious to her, introducing her to many whom she did not
know before, and paying her numberless little attentions, which made
Juno stare, while the clearer-seeing Bell arched her eyebrows, and
wondered for what Helen was to be made a catspaw by her clever mother.
Whatever it was, it did not appear, save as it showed itself in Helen's
slightly changed demeanor when Mark again sought her society, and tried
to bring back to her face the look he had left there. But something
evidently had come between them, and the young man racked his brain to
find the cause of this sudden indifference in one who had been pleased
with him only a short half hour before.

"It's that confounded waltzing which disgusted her," he said, "and no
wonder, for if ever a man looks like an idiot, it is when he is kicking
up his heels to the sound of a viol, and wheeling around some woman
whose skirts sweep everything within the circle of a rod, and whose face
wears that die-away expression I have so often noticed. I've half a mind
to swear I'll never dance again."

But Mark was too fond of dancing to quit it at once, and finding Helen
still indifferent, he yielded to circumstances, and the last she saw of
him, as at a comparatively early hour she left the gay scene, he was
dancing again with Juno, whose face beamed with a triumphant look, as if
she in some way guessed the aching heart her rival carried home. It was
a heavy blow to Helen, for she had become greatly interested in Mark
Ray, whose attentions had made her stay in New York so pleasant. But
these were over now--at least the excitement they brought was over, and
Helen, as she sat in her dressing-room at home, and thought of the
future as well as the past, felt stealing over her a sense of desolation
and loneliness such as she had experienced but once before, and that on
the night when leaning from her window at the farmhouse where Mark Ray
was stopping she had shuddered and shrank from living all her days among
the rugged hills of Silverton. New York had opened an entirely new world
to her, showing her much that was vain and frivolous, with much too,
that was desirable and good; and if there had crept into her heart the
vague thought that a life with such people as Mrs. Banker and those who
frequented her house would be preferable to a life in Silverton, where
only Morris understood her, it was but the natural result of daily
intercourse with one who had studied to please and interest as Mark Ray
had done. But Helen had too much good sense and strength of will long to
indulge in what she would have called "love-sick regrets" in others, and
she began to devise the best course for her to adopt hereafter,
concluding finally to treat him much as she had done, lest he should
suspect how deeply she had been wounded. Now that she knew of his
engagement, it would be an easy matter, she thought, so to demean
herself as neither to annoy Juno nor really to vex him. Thoroughly now
she understood why Juno Cameron had seemed to dislike her so much.

"It is natural," she said, "and yet I honestly believe I like her better
for knowing what I do. There must be some good beneath that proud
exterior, or Mark would never seek her."

Still, look at it from any point she chose, it seemed a strange,
unsuitable match, and Helen's heart ached sadly as she finally retired
to rest, thinking what might have been had Juno Cameron found some other
lover more like her than Mark could ever be.



CHAPTER XXIII.

GENEVRA.


Far more elated with her sister's success than Helen herself, Katy could
talk of little else next morning, telling Helen how many complimentary
things Wilford had said of her, and how much he had heard others say,
while Mark Ray had seemed perfectly fascinated.

"I never thought till last night how nice it would be for you to marry
Mark and settle in New York," Katy said, never dreaming how she was
wounding Helen, who, but for Mrs. Cameron's charge, would have
proclaimed Mark's engagement with Juno.

As it was, she felt the words struggling against her lips; but she
forced them back, and tried to laugh at Katy's castles in the air, as
she called them.

"You looked beautiful, Wilford said," Katy continued, "and I am so glad,
only," and Katy's voice fell, while her eyes rested upon the crib where
the baby was sleeping, "only I think Wilford is more anxious than ever
for me to go again into society. He will not hear of my staying home for
the entire season, as I wish to do, for baby is better to me than all
the parties in the world. I am so tired of it all, and have been ever
since I was at Newport. I was so vain and silly there, and I have been
so sorry since. But that summer cured me entirely, and you don't know
how I loathe the very thought of entering society again. For your sake I
should be willing to go sometimes, if there were no one else. But Mrs.
Banker has kindly offered to take you under her charge, and so there is
no necessity for me to matronize you."

Helen laughed merrily at the idea of being matronized by the little
girlish creature not yet twenty years of age, kissing fondly the white,
thin cheek so much whiter and thinner than it used to be.

"You are confining yourself too much," she said. "You are losing all
your color. Fresh air will do you good, even if parties will not.
Suppose we drive this afternoon to Marian Hazelton's and show her the
baby."

Nothing could please Katy better. Several times since baby's birth she
sent a message to Fourth Street, begging of Marian to come and see her
treasure, and once, urged by her entreaties, Wilford himself had written
a brief note asking that Miss Hazleton would call if perfectly
convenient. But there had always been some excuse, some plea of work,
some putting off the coming, until Katy feared that something might he
wrong, and entered heartily into Helen's propositions. It was a pleasant
winter's day, and toward the middle of the afternoon the Cameron
carriage stopped before the humble dwelling where Marian Hazleton was
living.

"You needn't go up," Katy said to the nurse, feeling that she would
rather meet Marian without the presence of a stranger. "Miss Lennox will
carry baby and you can wait here. It is not cold," she added, as the
nurse showed signs of remonstrance, "and if it is, John can drive you
around a square or two."

After this there was no further demur, and Katy soon stood with Helen at
the door of Marian's room. She was at home, uttering an exclamation of
astonishment when she saw who her visitors were, and turning white as
ashes, when Katy, taking her baby from Helen's arms, placed it in her
lap, saying,

"You would not come to see it and so I brought it to you. Isn't she a
beauty?"

There was a blur before Marian's eyes, a pressure about her heart which
seemed congealing into stone, but she tried to stammer out something,
bending over the tiny thing. Wilford Cameron's child, which she could
not see for the thick blackness around her. Tears and bitter pangs of
grief had the news of that child's birth wrung from Marian, bringing
back all the dreadful past, and making her hear again as if it were but
yesterday, the cold, decisive words:

"If there were a child it would of course be different."

There was a child now, and it lay in Marian's lap, clad in the garments
she had made, the cambric and the lace, the flannel and the merino,
which nevertheless could not take from it that look of sickly infancy,
or make it beautiful to others beside the mother. But it was Wilford's
child, and so when for a moment both Helen and Katy turned to examine a
rosebush just in bloom, Marian Hazleton hugged the little creature to
her bosom, whispering over it a blessing which, coming from one so
wronged, was doubly valuable. There was a tear, one of Marian's, on its
face, when Katy came back to it, and there were more in Marian's eyes,
falling like rain, as Katy asked, "What makes you cry?"

"I was thinking of what might have been," came struggling from Marian's
pale lips, and Helen felt a throb of pain as she remembered Dr. Grant,
and then thought of herself in connection with this sad "Might have
been."

Marian, too, knew the full meaning of those words, as was attested by
the gush of tears which dropped so fast on baby's face that Katy,
alarmed for the safety of the crimson cloak wrapped around it for
effect, took the child in her own arms, commencing that cooing
conversation which shows how much young mothers love their first born.
Marian's tears ceased at last, and after questioning Helen of Silverton
and its people, she turned abruptly to Katy, still rocking and talking
to her child, and asked:

"What do you intend to call her?"

"Genevra," Katy said, and simultaneously with that word Marian Hazleton
dropped without sound or motion to the floor.

Had Helen and Katy been put upon their oath, both would have testified
that even before the answer came, Marian had fainted, just as she did
when Helen first went to secure her services for Katy's bridal wardrobe.
This time, however, there was no Dr. Grant at hand, and so the
frightened ladies did what they could, bathing her face and chafing
her cold hands until the life came slowly back, and with a frightened
expression Marian looked around her, asking what had happened?

"Yes, I know now," she said, as baby's cry fell on her ear, but
restoring her wholly to herself. "Fainting is one of my weaknesses,"
she continued, turning to Helen. "You have seen me so before. It is my
heart," and with this explanation she satisfied her visitors, though
Katy expressed much solicitude and proposed to send her medical aid.

But Marian declined, and when it was time for Katy to go, she took the
child in her own arms again, and as if there was now a new link which
bound her to it, she kissed it many times, while in the eyes fastened so
lovingly, so wistfully upon its face, there was a strange, yearning look
which neither Helen nor Katy could fathom. Certain it is they had no
suspicion of the truth, and on their way home they spoke with much
concern of these fainting attacks, wondering if nothing could be done
to ward them off.



CHAPTER XXIV.

THE NAME.


Wilford had wished for a son, and in the first moment of disappointment
he had almost been conscious of a half-resentful feeling toward Katy,
who had given him only a daughter. A boy, a Cameron heir, was something
of which to be proud, especially as Jamie would always remain a helpless
cripple; but a little girl, scarcely larger than the last doll with
which Katy had played, was a different thing, and it required all
Wilford's philosophy and common sense to keep him from showing his
chagrin to the girlish creature, whose love had fastened with an
idolatrous grasp upon her child, clinging to it with a devotion which
made Helen tremble as she thought what if God should take it from her.

"He won't, oh, He won't," Katy had said, when once she suggested the
possibility, and in the eyes usually so soft and gentle there was a
fierce gleam, as Katy hugged her baby closer to her, and said:

"God does not willfully torment us. He will not take my baby, when my
whole life would die with it. I had almost forgotten to pray, there was
so much else to do, till baby came, but now I never go to sleep at night
or waken in the morning, that there does not come a prayer of thanks
for baby given to me. I could hardly love God if He took her away."

There was a chill feeling at Helen's heart as she listened to her sister
and then glanced at the baby so passionately loved. In time it would be
pretty, for it had Katy's perfect features, and the hair just beginning
to grow was a soft, golden brown; but it was too small now, too puny to
be handsome, while in its eyes there was a scared, hunted kind of look,
which chafed Wilford more than aught else could have done, for that was
the look which had crept into Katy's eyes at Newport when she found she
was not going home. Still it was a Cameron, of royal lineage, loved at
least by four, its mother, its grandfather, Helen and Jamie, while the
others looked forward to a time when they should be proud of it, even if
they were not so now.

Many discussions had been held at the elder Cameron's concerning its
name, Mrs. Cameron deciding finally that it should bear her own,
Margaret Augusta, while Juno advocated that of Rose Marie, inasmuch as
their new clergyman would Frenchify the pronunciation so perfectly,
rolling the "_r_," and placing so much accent on the last syllable. At
this the Father Cameron swore as cussed nonsense--"better call it
Jemima, a grand sight, than saddle it with such a silly name as Rose
Mah-ree, with a roll to the 'r,'" and with another oath the disgusted
old man departed, while Bell suggested that Katy might wish to have a
voice in naming her own child.

This was a possibility that had formed no part of Mrs. Cameron's
thoughts, or Juno's. Of course Katy would acquiesce in whatever Wilford
said was best, and he always thought as they did. Consequently there
would be no trouble whatever. It was time the child had a name--time it
wore the elegant christening robe, Mrs. Cameron's gift, which cost more
money than would have fed a hungry family for weeks. The matter must be
decided, and so with a view of deciding it a family dinner party was
held at No. ---- Fifth Avenue, the day succeeding the call on Marian
Hazleton.

Very pure and beautiful Katy looked as she once more took her old place
in the chair they called hers at Father Cameron's, because it was the
one she had always preferred to any other--a large, motherly
easy-chair, which took in nearly the whole of her petite figure, and
against whose soft cushioned back she leaned her curly head with a
pretty air of importance, as after dinner was over, she came back to the
parlor with the other ladies, waiting for the gentlemen to join them,
when they were to talk up baby's name.

Katy knew exactly what it would be called, but as Wilford had never
asked her, she was keeping it a secret, not doubting that the others
would be quite as much delighted as herself with the novel name,
"Genevra." Not long before her illness she had read an English story,
which had in it a Genevra, and she had at once seized upon it as the
most delightful cognomen a person could well possess. "Genevra Cameron!"
She had repeated it to herself many a time as she sat with her baby on
her lap. She had written it on sundry slips of paper, which had
afterward found their way into the grate; and once she had scratched
with her diamond ring upon the window pane in her dressing-room, where
it now stood in legible characters, "Genevra Cameron!" There should be
no middle name to take from the sweetness of the first--only
Genevra--that was sufficient; and the little lady tapped her foot
impatiently upon the carpet, wishing Wilford and father would hurry and
come in.

Never for an instant had it entered her mind that she, as the mother,
would not be permitted to call her baby what she chose; so when she
heard Mrs. Cameron speaking to Helen of Margaret Augusta, she smiled
complacently, tossing her curls of golden brown, and thinking to
herself, "Maggie Cameron--pretty enough, but not like Genevra. Indeed
I shall not have any Margarets now; next time perhaps I may."

Since the party at Mrs. Grandon's, Mrs. Cameron had been very kind and
gracious to Helen, while Juno, who understood that Helen believed her
engaged to Mark, treated her with far more attention than before, and
now both kept near to her, chatting familiarly, Mrs. Cameron about the
opera, and Juno the matinée, to which they were to take her, without
waiting for Katy. Helen's success at the party, together with Mrs.
Banker's and Sybil's evident determination to bring her forward, had
taught them that she could not well be longer ignored, and as Juno did
not greatly dread her as a rival now, she could afford to be gracious;
and she was, making herself so agreeable that Helen observed the change,
imputing it to the fact that Mark had probably returned to his
allegiance, and blaming herself for having unwittingly wounded Juno by
receiving his attentions. The belief that she was adding to another's
happiness made it easier to bear the pang, which would make itself felt
whenever she recalled the kindly manner, the handsome face, and more
than all the expressive eyes, which had looked whole volumes into hers;
and Helen quite enjoyed her first dinner party at the Camerons, though
she began to wish, with Katy, that the gentlemen would join them.

They came at last, and Father Cameron drew his chair close to Katy's
side, laying his hand on her little soft, warm one, giving it a squeeze
as the bright face glanced lovingly into his. Father Cameron was a
milder, gentler man than he was before Katy came, going much oftener
into society, and not so frequently shocking his wife with expressions
and opinions which she held as heterodox. Katy had a softening influence
over him, and he loved her as well perhaps as he had ever loved his own
children.

"Better," Juno said, and now she touched Bell's arm, to have her see
"how father was petting Katy."

But Bell did not care, while Wilford was pleased, and drew himself
nearer the chair, standing just behind it, so that Katy could not see
him as he smoothed her curly head, and said, half indifferently, "Now
for the all-important name. What shall we call our daughter?"

"Let your mother speak first," Katy said, and thus appealed to Mrs.
Cameron came up to Wilford and expressed her preference for Margaret, as
being a good name--an aristocratic name, and her own.

"Yes, but not half so pretty and striking as Rose Marie," Juno chimed
in.

"Rose Mary! Thunder!" Father Cameron exclaimed. "Call her a marygold, or
a sunflower, just as much. Don't go to being fools by giving a child a
heathenish name. Give us your opinion, Katy."

"I have known from the first," Katy replied, "and I am sure you will
agree with me. Tis such a beautiful name of a sweet young girl, and
there was a great secret about her, too--Genevra, baby will be called,"
and Katy looked straight into the fire, wholly unconscious of the effect
that name had produced upon two of her auditors, Wilford and his mother.

They did not faint, like Marian, but Wilford's face was white as marble,
and his eyes turned quickly to his mother, who, in her first shock,
started so violently as to throw down from the stand a costly vase,
which was broken in many pieces. This occasioned a little diversion, and
by the time the flowers and fragments were gathered up, Wilford's lips
were not quite as livid, but he dared not trust his voice yet, and
listened while his sisters gave their opinion of the name. Bell deciding
for it at once, and Juno hesitating until she had heard from a higher
power than Katy. One there was in that family council who seized upon it
eagerly. Jamie had been brought into the parlor in his wheel-chair, and
sat leaning his cheek upon his hand when the name was spoken. Then, with
a sudden lighting up of his face, he exclaimed, "Genevra! I've heard it
before. Where was it, grandma? Didn't you talk of it once with--"

"Hush-h, Jamie. Don't interrupt us now," Wilford said, in a voice so
much sterner than he was wont to use when addressing the little boy,
that Jamie shrank back abashed and frightened; while Mrs. Cameron, still
with her back to Katy, asked, what had put that fanciful name into her
mind? Where had she heard it?

Katy explained, and, with the removal of the fear which for a few
moments had chilled his blood, Wilford grew calm again; while into his
heart there crept the thought that by giving that name to his child some
slight atonement might be made to the occupant of that grave in St.
Mary's churchyard--to her above whose head the English daisies had
blossomed and faded many a year. But not so with his mother--the child
should not be called Genevra if she could prevent it; and she opposed it
with all her powers, offering at last, as a great concession on her
part, to let it bear the name of any of Katy's family--Hannah and Betsy
mentally excepted, of course--Lucy Lennox, Helen Lennox, Katy Lennox,
anything but Genevra. As usual, Wilford when he had learned her mind,
joined with her, notwithstanding the secret preference, and the
discussion became quite warm, especially as Katy evinced a willfulness
for which Helen had never given her credit. Hitherto she had been as
yielding as wax, but on this point she was firm, gathering strength from
the fact that Wilford did not oppose her as he usually did. She could
not, perhaps, have resisted him, but his manner was not very decided,
and so she quietly persisted. "Genevra, or nothing," until the others
gave up the contest, hoping she would feel differently after a few days'
reflection. But Katy knew she shouldn't; and Helen could not overcome
the exultation with which she saw her little sister put the Camerons to
rout and remain master of the field.

"After all it does not matter," Mrs. Cameron said to her daughters,
when, after Mrs. Wilford had gone, she sat talking of Katy's queer fancy
and her obstinacy in adhering to it. "It does not matter; and on the
whole I had as soon the christening would be postponed until the child
is more presentable than now. It will be prettier by and by, and the
dress will become it better. We can afford to wait."

This heartless view of the case was readily adopted by Juno, while Bell
professed to be terribly shocked at hearing them talk thus of a baptism,
as if it were a mere show and nothing more, wondering if the Savior
thought either of dress or personal appearance when the Hebrew mothers
brought their children to Him. But little did Mrs. Cameron or Juno care
for the baptism except as a display, and as both would be much prouder
of a fine looking child, they were well content to wait until such time
as Katy should incline more favorably to their Margaret or Rose Marie.
To Helen it seemed highly probable that after a private interview with
Wilford Katy would change her mind, and she felt a wickedly agreeable
degree of disappointment when, on the day following the dinner party,
she found her sister even more resolved than ever upon having her own
way. Like the Camerons, she did not feel the necessity of haste--time
enough by and by, when she would not have so much opposition to
encounter, she said; and as Wilford did not care, it was finally
arranged that they would wait a while, ere they gave a cognomen to
the little nameless child, only known as Baby Cameron.



CHAPTER XXV.

TROUBLE IN THE HOUSEHOLD.


As soon as it was understood that Mrs. Wilford Cameron was able to go
out, there were scores of pressing invitations from the gay world which
had missed her so much, but Katy declined them all on the plea that baby
needed her care. She was happier at home, and as a mother it was her
place to stay there. At first Wilford listened quietly, but when he
found it was her fixed determination to abjure society entirely, he
interfered in his cool, decisive way, which always carried its point.

"It was foolish to take that stand," he said. "Other mothers went and
why should not she? She had already stayed in too much. She was injuring
herself, and"--what was infinitely worse to Wilford--"she was losing her
good looks."

As proof of this he led her to the glass, showing her the pale, thin
face and unnaturally large eyes, so distasteful to him. Wilford Cameron
was very proud of his handsome house, proud to know that everything
there was in keeping with his position and wealth, but when Katy was
immured in the nursery, the bright picture was obscured, for it needed
her presence to make it perfect, and he began to grow dissatisfied with
his surroundings, while abroad he missed her quite as much, finding the
opera, the party or the reception insipid where she was not, and feeling
fully conscious that Wilford Cameron, without a wife, and that wife
Katy, was not a man of half the consequence he had thought himself to
be. Even Sybil Grandon did not think it worth her while to court his
attention, especially if Katy were not present, for unless some one saw
and felt her triumph it ceased directly to be one. On the whole Wilford
was not well pleased with society, as he found it this winter, and
knowing where the trouble lay he resolved that Katy should no longer
remain at home, growing pale and faded and losing her good looks.
Wilford would not have confessed it, and perhaps was not himself aware
of the fact, that Katy's beauty was quite as dear to him as Katy
herself. If she lost it her value was decreased accordingly, and so as
a prudent husband it behooved him to see that what was so very precious
was not unnecessarily thrown away. It did not take long for Katy to
understand that her days of quiet were at an end, that neither crib nor
cradle could avail her longer. Mrs. Kirby, selected from a host of
applicants, was wholly competent for Baby Cameron, and Katy must throw
aside the mother which sat so prettily upon her and become again the
belle. It was a sad trial, but Katy knew that submission was the only
alternative, and so when Mrs. Banker's invitation came, she accepted it
at once, but there was a sad look upon her face as she kissed her baby
for the twentieth time ere going to her dressing-maid.

Never until this night had Helen realized how beautiful Katy was when in
full evening dress, and her exclamations of delight brought a soft flush
to Katy's cheek, while she felt a thrill of the olden vanity as she saw
herself once more arrayed in all her costly apparel. Helen did not
wonder now at Wilford's desire to have Katy with him, and very proudly
she watched her young sister as Esther twined the flowers in her hair
and then brought out the ermine cloak she was to wear as a protection
against the cold.

"If they could only see you at home," she said, while instantly there
arose a thought of Dr. Grant, and Helen felt a throb of keen regret as
she contrasted the gay, airy figure with the grave, quiet Morris, who
found his chief delights in works of charity, and whose feet lingered
amid the haunts of poverty and suffering, rather than such scenes as
that to which she was going.

But Katy's path lay far from Dr. Grant's, and only Wilford Cameron had
A right to say whither she should go or when return. He was standing by
her now, making a few suggestions and expressing his approbation in a
way which reminded Helen of that night before the marriage, when Katy's
dress had been condemned, and of that sadder, bitterer time when she
had poured her tears like rain into that trunk returned. All she had
thought of Wilford then was now more than confirmed, but he was kind to
her and very proud of Katy, so she forced back her feelings of disquiet,
which, however, were roused again when she saw the dark look on his
face, as Katy, at the very last, ran to the nursery to kiss baby again,
succeeding this time in waking it, as was proven by the cry that made
Wilford scowl angrily and brought to his lips a word of rebuke for
Katy's childishness.

"You are like a girl with her first doll," he said, as he opened the
door for her to pass, and Helen, though she felt the truth of the
remark, knew there was no necessity for him to throw so much of lordly
displeasure into his manner, and make poor Katy look so distressed and
worried as they drove rapidly along the streets to Mrs. Banker's.

The party was not so large as that at Sybil Grandon's, but it was more
select, and Helen enjoyed it better, meeting people like Morris, who
readily appreciated the peculiarities of her mind, and who would have
made her forget all else around her if she had not been a guest at Mark
Ray's house. It was the first time she had met him away from home since
the night of Mrs. Grandon's, and as if forgetful of her reserve, he paid
her numberless attentions, which, coming from the master of the house,
were the more to be valued.

With a quiet dignity Helen received them all, the thought once creeping
into her heart that she was preferred, notwithstanding that engagement.
But she soon repudiated this idea as unworthy of her. She could not be
wholly happy with one who, to win her hand, had trampled upon the
affections of another, even if that other were Juno Cameron.

And so she kept out of his way as much as possible, watching her sister
admiringly as she moved about with an easy, assured grace, or floated
like a snow flake through the dance in which Wilford persuaded her to
join, looking after her with a proud, all-absorbing feeling, which left
no room for Sybil Grandon's coquettish advances.

As if the reappearance of Katy had awakened all that was weak and silly
in Sybil's nature, she now put forth her full powers of attraction, but
met only with defeat. Katy, and even Helen, was preferred before
her--both belles of a different type; but both winning golden laurels
from those who hardly knew which to admire most--Katy, with her pure,
delicate beauty and charming simplicity, or Helen, with her attractive
face and sober, quiet manner. But Katy grew tired early. She could not
endure what she once did; and when she came to Wilford with a weary look
upon her face and asked him to go home, he did not refuse, though Mark,
who was near, protested against their leaving so soon.

"Surely Miss Lennox might remain; the carriage could be sent back for
her; and he had hardly seen her at all."

But Miss Lennox chose to go; and after her white cloak and hood passed
down the stairs and through the door into the street, there was nothing
attractive for Mark in his crowded parlors, and he was glad when the
last guest had departed and he was left alone with his mother.

Operas, parties, receptions, dinners, matineés, morning calls, drives,
visits and shopping; how fast one crowded upon the other, leaving
scarcely an hour of leisure to the devotee of fashion who attended to
them all. How astonished Helen was to find what high life in New York
implied, ceasing to wonder that so many of the young girls grew haggard
and old before their time, or that the dowagers grew selfish and hard
and scheming. She would die outright, she thought, and she pitied poor
little Katy, who, having once returned to the world, seemed destined to
remain there, in spite of her entreaties and the excuses she made for
declining the invitations which poured in so fast.

"Baby was not well--baby needed her," was the plea with which she met
Wilford's arguments, until the mention of his child was sure to bring a
scowl upon his face, and it became a question in Helen's mind whether he
would not be happier if baby had never come between him and his
ambition.

To hear Katy's charms extolled, and know that she was admired, and he
was envied the possession of so rare a gem, feeling all the while sure
of her faith, was Wilford's great delight, and it is not strange that,
without any very strong fatherly feeling or principle of right in that
respect, he should be irritated by the little life so constantly
interfering with his pleasure and so surely undermining Katy's health.
For Katy did not improve, as Wilford hoped she might; and with his two
hands he could almost span her slender waist, while the beautiful neck
and shoulders, once his chiefest pride, were no longer worn uncovered,
for Katy would not display her bones, whatever the fashion might be. In
this dilemma Wilford sought his mother, and the result of that
consultation brought a more satisfied look to his face than it had worn
for many a day.

"Strange he had never thought of it, when it was what so many people
did," he said to himself as he hurried home. "It was the very best thing
both for Katy and the child, and would obviate every difficulty."

Next morning, as she sometimes did when more than usually fatigued, Katy
breakfasted in bed; while Wilford's face, as he sat opposite Helen at
the table, had on it a look of quiet determination, such as she had
rarely seen there before. In a measure accustomed to his moods, she felt
that something was wrong, and never dreaming that he intended honoring
her with his confidence, she was wishing he would finish the coffee and
leave, when, motioning the servant from the room, he said abruptly, and
in a tone which roused Helen's antagonistic powers at once, it was so
cool, so decided: "I believe you have more influence over your sister
than I have; at least, she has latterly shown a willfulness in
disregarding me and a willingness to listen to you, which confirms
me in this conclusion--"

"Well," and Helen twisted her napkin ring nervously, waiting for him to
say more; but her manner, so different from Katy's, disconcerted him,
making him a little uncertain what might be hidden behind that rigid
face, confronting him so steadily, a little doubtful as to the
expression it would put on when he had said all he meant to say.

He did not expect it to wear a look as frightened and hopeless as Katy's
did when he last saw it upon the pillow, for he knew how different the
two sisters were, and much as he had affected to despise Helen Lennox,
he was afraid of her now. It had never occurred to him before that he
was somewhat uncomfortable in her presence, that her searching brown
eyes held him often in check; but it came to him now that his wife's
sister was in his way, for what could he do with a will almost as firm
as his own, and she was sure to take Katy's part. He saw it in her face,
even though she had no idea of what he meant to say.

"Well;" that was the last sound heard in the quiet room; but since its
utterance the relative positions of the two individuals sitting opposite
each other had changed. Wilford regarding Helen as an obstacle in his
path, and Helen regarding him as a tyrant contemplating some direful
harm against her sister.

He must explain some time, and so at last he continued: "You must have
seen how opposed Katy is to complying with my wishes, setting them at
naught, when she knows how much pleasure she would give me by yielding
as she used to do."

"I don't know what you mean," Helen replied, "unless it is her aversion
to going out, as that I think is the only point where her obedience has
not been absolute."

Wilford did not like the words "obedience" and "absolute;" that is, he
did not like the sound. Their definition suited him, but Helen's
enunciation was at fault, and he answered quickly: "I do not require
absolute obedience from Katy. I never did; but in the matter to which
you refer, I think she might consult my wishes as well as her own. There
is no reason for her secluding herself in the nursery as she does. Do
you think there is?"

He put the question direct, and Helen answered it.

"I do not believe Katy means to displease you, but she has conceived a
strong aversion for festive scenes, and besides baby is not healthy, you
know, and like all young mothers she may be over-anxious, while I fancy
she has not the fullest confidence in the nurse, and this may account
for her unwillingness to leave the child with her."

Kirby was all that was desirable, Wilford replied. His mother had taken
her from a genteel, respectable house in Bond Street, and he paid her an
enormous price, consequently she must be right; and then there came out
the story how his mother had decided that neither Katy nor baby would
improve so long as they remained together--that for both a separation
was desirable--that she had recommended sending the child into the
country, where it would be better cared for than it could be at home
with Katy constantly undoing all Mrs. Kirby had done, disregarding her
orders, waking it from sleep whenever the fancy took her, and in short
treating it much as she probably did her doll when she was a little
girl. With the child away there would be nothing to prevent Katy's going
out as she used to do, and getting back her good looks, which were
somewhat impaired.

"Why, she looks older than you do," Wilford said, thinking thus to
conciliate Helen, who quietly replied:

"There is not two years difference between us, and I have always been
well, keeping regular hours until I came here."

Wilford's compliment had failed, and more annoyed than before, he asked,
not what Helen thought of the arrangement, but if she would influence
Katy to act and think rationally upon it; "at least you will not make it
worse," he said, and this time there was something quite deferential and
pleading in his manner.

Helen knew the matter was fixed, that neither Katy's tears nor
entreaties would avail to revoke the decision, and so, though her whole
soul rose in indignation against a man who would deliberately send his
nursing baby from his roof because it was in his way, and was robbing
his bride's cheek of its girlish bloom, she answered composedly:

"I will do what I can, but I must confess it seems to me an unnatural
thing. I had supposed parents less selfish than that."

Wilford did not care what Helen had supposed, and her opposition only
made him more resolved. Still he did not say so, and he even tried to
smile as he quitted the table and remarked to her:

"I hope to find Katy reconciled when I come home. I think I had better
not go up to her again, so tell her I send a good-by kiss by you. I
leave her case in your hands."

It was a far more difficult case than either he or Helen imagined, and
the latter started back in alarm from the white face which greeted her
view as she entered Katy's room, and then with a moan hid itself in the
pillow.

"Wilford thought he had better not come up, but he sent a kiss by me,"
Helen said, softly touching the bright, disordered hair, all she could
see of her sister.

"It does not matter," Katy gasped. "Kisses cannot help me if they take
my baby away. Did he tell you?" and she turned now partly toward Helen,
who nodded affirmatively while Katy continued: "Had he taken a knife and
cut a cruel gash it would not have hurt me half so badly. I could bear
that, but my baby--oh, Helen, do you think they will take her away?"

She was looking straight at Helen, who shivered as she met an expression
so unlike Katy, and so like to that a hunted deer might wear if its
offspring were in danger.

"Say, do you think they will?" she continued, shedding back with her
thin hand the mass of tangled curls which had fallen about her eyes.

"Whom do you mean by 'they'?" Helen asked, coming near to her, and
sitting down upon the bed.

There was a resentful gleam in the blue eyes usually so gentle, as Katy
answered:

"Whom do I mean? His folks of course! They have been the instigators of
every sorrow I have known since I left Silverton. Oh, Helen, never,
never marry anybody who has folks, if you wish to be happy."

Helen could not repress a smile, though she pitied her sister, who
continued:

"I don't mean Father Cameron, nor Bell, nor Jamie, for I love them all,
and I believe that they love me. Father does, I know, and Jamie, while
Bell has helped me so often; but Mrs. Cameron and Juno--oh, Helen, you
will never know what they have been to me."

"I notice you always say 'father' and 'Mrs. Cameron.' Why is that?"
Helen asked, hoping thus to divert Katy's mind from her present trouble,
and feeling a little anxious to hear Katy's real sentiments with regard
to her husband's family.

Since Helen came to New York there has been so much to talk about
that, though Katy had told her of her fashionable life, she had said
comparatively little of the Camerons. Now, however, there was no holding
back on Katy's part, and beginning with the first night of her arrival
in New York she told what is already known to the reader, and more,
exonerating Wilford in word, but dealing out full justice to his mother
and Juno, the former of whom controlled him so completely.

"I tried so hard to love her," Katy said, "and if she had given me ever
so little in return I would have been satisfied, but she never did--that
is, when I hungered for it most, missing you at home, and the loving
care which sheltered me in childhood. After the world took me into favor
she too began to caress me, but I was wicked enough to think it all came
of selfishness. I know I am hard and bad, for when I was sick Mrs.
Cameron was really very kind, and I began to like her; but if she takes
baby away, I shall surely die."

Katy had come back to the starting point, and in her eye there was the
same fierce look which Helen had at first observed.

"Where is baby to be sent?" Helen asked, and Katy answered:

"Up the river, to a house which Father Cameron owns, and which is kept
by a farmer's family. I can't trust Kirby. I do not like her. She keeps
baby asleep too long, and acts so cross if I try to wake her, or hint
that she looks unnatural. I cannot give baby to her care, with no one to
look after her, though Wilford says I must."

"Why then do you try to resist, when you know how useless it is?" Helen
asked, and something in her manner brought a sudden flush of shame to
Katy's cheek, as she said:

"What do you mean? Of what are you thinking?"

Helen did not stop to consider the propriety of her remarks, but
replied:

"I was thinking that you reminded me of a bird beatings wings against
the bars of its cage, vainly hoping to escape into the freedom which it
feels is outside its prison house, but falling back bruised and bleeding
with its efforts, and no nearer escape."

For a moment Katy regarded her sister intently, while she seemed trying
to digest the meaning of her words; then, as it vaguely flashed upon
her, tears gathered on her eyelashes and rolled down her cheeks, while
with a quivering lip she asked:

"If you were that bird, what would you do?"

"I? What would I do? I should beat my wings until I died; but your
nature is different. You are more yielding, more loving, more
submissive. You can bear it better."

This was not the first time since she came to New York and saw how firm,
how unbending was the will which held Katy in its grasp, that Helen had
thought how surely she, with her high, imperious spirit, should die,
from the very resistance she should offer to that will. But as she had
truly expressed it, Katy's gentle, submissive nature saved her, for
never had she offered so violent opposition to any plan as she did now
to that of sending her child away.

"I can't, I can't," she repeated constantly, and Mrs. Cameron's call,
made that afternoon with a view to reconcile the matter, only made it
worse, so that Wilford, on his return at night, felt a pang of
self-reproach as he saw the drooping figure holding his child upon its
lap and singing it a lullaby in a plaintive voice, which told how sore
was its heart.

Wilford did not mean to be either a savage or a brute. On the contrary
he had made himself believe that he was acting only for the good of both
mother and child; but the sight of Katy touched him, and he might have
given up the contest had not Helen unfortunately taken up the cudgels in
Katy's defense, neglecting to conceal the weapons, and so defeating her
purpose. It was at the dinner from which Katy was absent that she
ventured to speak, not asking that the plan be given up, but speaking of
it as an unnatural one which seemed to her not only useless but cruel.

Wilford did not tell her that her opinion was not desired, but his
manner implied as much, and Helen felt the angry blood prickling through
her veins as she listened to his reply, that it was neither unnatural
nor cruel, that many people did it, and his would not be an isolated
case.

"Then if it must be," Helen said, "pray let it go to Silverton, and I
will be its nurse. Katy will not object to that."

In a very ironical tone Wilford thanked her for her offer, which he
begged leave to decline, intimating a preference for settling his own
matters according to his own ideas. Helen knew that further argument was
useless, and but for Katy, wished herself at home, where there were no
wills like this with which she had unwittingly come in contact, and
which, ignoring Katy's tears and Katy's pleading face, would not retract
one iota, or even stoop to reason with the suffering mother, except to
reiterate, "It is only for your good, and every one with common sense
will say so."

Next morning Helen was surprised at Katy's proposition to drive around
to Fourth Street, and call on Marian, whom they had not seen for several
days.

"I am always better after talking with her," Katy said, "And I have a
strong presentiment that she can do me good."

"Shall you tell her?" Helen asked in some surprise; and Katy replied,
"perhaps I may. I'll see."

An hour later, and Katy, up in Marian's room, sat with her hands clasped
together upon the table, listening intently while Marian spoke of a
letter received a few days since from an old friend who had worked with
her at Madam ----'s, and to whom she had been strongly attached, keeping
up a correspondence with her after her marriage and removal to New
London, in Connecticut; and whose little child, born two months before
Katy's, was dead, and the mother, finding her home so desolate, had
written, beseeching Marian to come to her for the remainder of the
winter, adding in conclusion: "If you know of any little homeless baby,
bring it to me in place of mine, which God has taken. I shall thus be
doing good, and in part forget my sorrow."

Instantly Helen and Katy glanced at each other, the same thought
flashing upon both, and finding form in Katy's vehement outburst, "If
Mrs. Hubbell would take baby, and Marian would go, too, I should be so
happy."

In a few moments Marian had heard Katy's trouble--struggling hard to
fight back the giddy faintness she felt stealing over her, as she
thought of nursing Wilford Cameron's child.

"Write to her, Marian--write to-day--now, before I go," Katy continued,
clasping Marian's hand, with an expression which, more than aught else
won Marian Hazelton's consent to a plan which seemed so strange.

"Yes, I will write," she answered; "I will tell Amelia what you desire."

"But, Marian, you, too, must go. I'll trust baby with you. Say, Marian,
will you take care of my darling?"

It was hard to refuse, with those great, wistful, pleading eyes looking
so earnestly into hers; but Marian must have time to consider. She had
thought of going to New London to open a shop, and if she did she should
board with Mrs. Hubbell, and so be with the child. She would decide when
the answer came to the letter.

This was all the encouragement she would give; but it was enough to
change the whole nature of Katy's feelings, and her face looked bright
and cheerful as she tripped down the stairway, talking to Helen of what
seemed to both like a direct interposition of Providence, and what she
was sure would please Wilford quite as well as the farmhouse up the
river.

"Surely he will yield to me in this," she said. Nor was she wrong; for
glad of an opportunity to make some concessions, and still in the main
have his own way, Wilford raised no objection to the plan as
communicated to him by Katy, when, at an earlier hour than usual, he
came home to dinner, drawn thither by a remembrance of the face which
had haunted him the entire day, and bringing as a peace offering to both
wife and sister--a new book for the one, and for the other a set of
handsome coral, which he had heard her admire only the week before.

These he presented with that graceful, winning manner he knew so well
how to assume, and with the harmony of his household once more restored,
felt himself a model husband as he listened to Katy's plan of sending
baby to New London. On the whole, it might be better even than the
farmhouse up the river, he thought, for it was farther away, and Katy
could not be tiring herself with driving out every few days, and keeping
herself constantly uneasy and excited. The distance between New York
and New London was the best feature of the whole; and he wondered Katy
had not thought of it as an objection. But she had not, and but for the
pain when she remembered the coming separation, she would have been very
happy that evening, listening with Wilford and Helen to the opera of
"Norma," and sympathizing so keenly with the poor distracted mother.

Very differently from this was Marian's evening passed, and on her face
there was a look such as Katy's had never worn, as on her knees she
asked for guidance to choose the right, to lay all self aside, and if it
were her duty and care for the child which had stirred the pulsations of
her heart and made the old wound bleed and throb with bitter anguish as
she remembered what she once hoped would be, and what but for a cruel
wrong might still have been. And as she prayed there crept into her face
another look which told that self was sacrificed at last, and Katy
Cameron was safe with her.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mrs. Hubbell was willing--aye, more than that--was glad to take the
child, and the generous remuneration offered would make them so
comfortable in their little cottage, she wrote to Marian, who hastened
to confer by note with Katy, adding in a postscript, "Is it still your
wish that I should go? if so, I am at your disposal."

It was Katy's wish, and she hastened to reply, going next to the nursery
to confer with Mrs. Kirby. Dark were the frowns and dire the displeasure
of that lady when told that her services would soon be no longer needed
on Madison Square--that instead of going up the river as she had hoped,
she was free to return to the "genteel and highly respectable home on
Bond Street," where Mrs. Cameron had found her.

"Wait till the madam comes and then we'll see," she thought, referring
to Mrs. Cameron, and feeling delighted when that very day she heard that
lady's voice in the parlor.

But Mrs. Cameron, though a little anxious with regard to both Mrs.
Hubbell's and Marian's antecedents, and a little doubtful as to the
effect a common dressmaker's nursing might have upon the child, saw at
once that Wilford was in favor of New London and so voted accordingly,
only asking that she might see and talk with Marian Hazelton herself.

"One can judge so much better from hearing one converse. If her manner
should be very bad and her grammar execrable, I should consider it my
duty to withdraw my consent," she said, with as much deliberation as if
the matter were wholly at her disposal. "Would Katy drive around with
her to Marian Hazelton's to-morrow?"

Katy would be delighted; and so next day Mrs. Cameron, the elder, was
holding high her aristocratic skirts and glancing ruefully around as she
followed Mrs. Cameron, the younger, up the three flights of stairs to
Marian's door, which did not open to the assured knock, nor yet yield to
the gentle pressure. Marian was out, and there was no alternative but
for Katy to scribble a few lines upon the card she left upon the knob,
telling Marian who had been there, and requesting her to call that
evening at No. ---- Fifth Avenue, as the elder Mrs. Cameron was
particularly anxious to see her before committing her grandchild to her
care. "Please go, Marian, for my sake," Katy added, but in reading to
Wilford's mother what she had written, she omitted that, and so escaped
a lecture from that lady upon undue familiarity with inferiors.



CHAPTER XXVI.

HOW IT ENDED.


"Will Marian go to No. ---- Fifth Avenue?" Marian asked herself that
question many times, as with Katy's card in her hand she stood pondering
the subject and feeling glad of the good fortune which had sent her from
home when Wilford's mother called.

Yes, Marian would; and at the hour between the daylight and the dark,
just as the lamps are lighted in the street, and before they are usually
lighted in the parlors there was a ring at the door, whose massive plate
bore the name of Cameron, and the colored man who answered that ring
stared at the figure he ushered in, seating it in the dim hall and
asking for the name.

"Miss Hazelton wishes to see Mrs. Cameron," was the reply, and at the
sound of that musical, well-bred voice, the servant half opened the
parlor door, but closed it again as he went for his mistress, who
expressed her surprise that Marian Hazelton should presume to enter
where she did.

"Maybe she is a lady, mother; Katy raves about her continually," Bell
said; but with an air of incredulity at the lady part, Mrs. Cameron
swept haughtily down the broad staircase, the rustle of her heavy silk
sending a chill of fear through Marian's frame, but not affecting her so
much as did the voice; the cold, proud, metallic voice, which said to
her as she half arose to her feet, "Miss Hazelton, I believe?"

At that sound there crept over her the same sensation she had felt years
ago, whenever the tones of that voice fell on her ear, for this was not
the first meeting of Mrs. Cameron and Marian Hazelton. But for all the
former guessed or knew, it was the first, and she looked curiously at
the graceful figure, but dimly seen in the shadowy twilight, noticing
the thick green veil which so nearly concealed the face, and wondering
why it was worn, or being worn, why it was kept so nearly down.

"Miss Hazelton, I believe?" was all that had passed between them as yet,
for at these words a great fear had come upon Marian lest her own voice
should seem as natural as did the one which had just spoken to her.

But she could not stand there long without answering, and so she
ventured at last to say:

"Yes, I found Mrs. Wilford Cameron's note, and came around as she
requested."

There was nothing objectionable in that remark, while the voice was
very, very sweet and musical, so musical, indeed, so like a voice heard
before, that Mrs. Cameron involuntarily went a step nearer to the
stranger, and even thought of calling up a servant to light the gas. But
that would perhaps be too great a civility, or at least betoken too
great a curiosity, and so she forebore, while she began to question
Marian of her own and Mrs. Hubbell's antecedents. Both were English,
both had worked upon the Isle of Wight, and later in New York, at
Madam ----'s; one had married, living now in New London, and the other
Stood there as Marian Hazelton, puzzling and bewildering Mrs. Cameron,
who tried to recall the person of whom she was reminded by that voice and
that manner, so wholly ladylike and refined.

Marian Hazelton pleased her, as was apparent from her expressing a wish
that "as far as practicable Miss Hazelton should take charge of the
child. We cannot tell how early life-long impression may be made, and it
is desirable that they be of the right nature, and wholly in accordance
with refinement and good-breeding."

There was a curl on Marian's lip as she remembered another meeting with
the proud lady whose words were not as complimentary as now, but she
merely bent her head in supposed acquiescence to the belief that Baby
Cameron was, or soon would be, capable of discriminating between a nurse
refined and one the opposite. There was a moment's silence and then
Marian asked if baby had been christened?

"Not yet, we cannot decide upon a name," was the reply, while Marian
continued:

"I understood your daughter that it was to be Genevra."

Marian Hazelton was growing too familiar, and so the lady deigned no
answer, but stepped a little to one side, as if she would thus indicate
that the conference was ended.

Dropping her veil entirely over her face, for the servant was now
lighting the parlor lamps, Marian turned toward the door which Mrs.
Cameron opened, and she passed out just as up the steps came Wilford,
Marian's skirts brushing him as she passed, and her heart beating
painfully as she thought of her escape and began to realize the danger
she incurred when she accepted the office of partial nurse to his child.

"Dark, mother? How is that? Why is the hall not lighted?" she heard him
say, and the old, familiar tones, so little changed, vibrated sadly in
her ear, as she dashed away a tear, and then hurried on through the
darkened streets toward her humble home, so different from the Cameron's.

"Who was that, mother?" Wilford said, expressing regret that he had not
happened in a little earlier, so as to have seen her himself, and
asking what his mother thought of her.

"I liked her. She seemed a well-bred person, and her voice is much like
Genevra's."

Wilford turned his eyes quickly upon his mother, who continued:

"I did not think of her, it is true, until Miss Hazelton inquired about
baby's name, and said she understood from Katy that it was to be
Genevra. Then it came to me whose her voice was like. Genevra's, you
know, was very musical."

"Yes," Wilford answered, and in his eyes there was a look of pain, such
as thoughts of Genevra always brought.

She was in his mind when he ran up his father's steps, not Genevra
living, but Genevra dead--she who slept in that lone corner of the
churchyard across the sea. "Genevra Lambert, aged twenty-two," and not
Genevra, aged nearly thirty-two, if she had been still living. Kindly,
regretfully, he always spoke of her now, separating her entirely from
the little fairy who was mistress of his house and love--Katy, who was
preferred before Genevra, and to whom no wrong was done, he thought, by
his sad memories of the beautiful English girl, whose grave was at St.
Mary's, and whose picture was so securely hidden from every eye save his
own. He never liked to talk of her now, and he changed the subject at
once, asking when it would be best to send his child away.

"Miss Hazelton is ready any time, and so I decided upon the day after
to-morrow--that will be Saturday--thus giving Katy the benefit of Sunday
in which to get over it and recover her usual spirits."

"You are sure it is right?" Wilford asked, for now that the time drew
near when the little crib at home would be empty, the nursery desolate,
with no fretful, plaintive wail to annoy and worry him, he began to feel
that after all that cry was not so very vexing as he had imagined it to
be; that he might miss it when it was gone, and wish back the little
creature which had been so greatly in his way.

Besides this, there was a sense of injustice to Katy. Perhaps he had not
been considerate enough of her feelings; at all events, his mother's
arranging the time of baby's departure looked like ignoring Katy
altogether, and he ventured a remonstrance. But his mother soon
convinced him of her infallible judgment; not only in that matter, but
in all others pertaining to his household; and so with his good opinion
of himself restored, he went home to where Katy waited for him, with her
baby in her lap, both tastefully attired, and making a most lovely
picture. Wilford kissed them both, and took his daughter in his arms, an
act he had not often been guilty of, for baby tending was not altogether
to his taste.

In the dark hours of agony which came to him afterward, he remembered
that night, feeling again the touch of the velvet cheek and the warmth
of the faint breath which floated across his face as he held his little
girl for a moment to it, laughing at Katy's distress because "his
whiskers scratched it."

It was strange how much confidence Katy had in Marian Hazelton, and how
the fact that she was going to New London reconciled her to the plan,
making her even cheerful during the last day of baby's stay at home. But
as the daylight waned and the night came on, a shadow began to steal
across her sunny face, and her step was slower as it went up the stairs
to the nursery, while only herself that night could disrobe the little
creature and hush it into sleep.

"'Tis the last time, you know," she said to Kirby, who readily yielded
her post and went out, leaving the young mother and child alone.

Mournfully sad and sweet was the lullaby Katy sang, and Helen, in the
hall, listening to the low, sad moaning, half prayer, half benediction,
likened it to a farewell between the living and the dead. Half an hour
later, when she glanced into the room, lighted only by the moonbeams,
baby was sleeping in her crib, which Katy knelt beside, her face buried
in her hands, and her form quivering with the sobs she tried to smother
as she softly prayed that her darling might come back again; that God
would keep the little child and forgive the erring mother who had sinned
so deeply since the time she used to pray in the home among the hills of
Massachusetts. She was very white next morning, and to Helen she seemed
to be expanding into something more womanly, more mature, as she
disciplined herself to bear the pain welling up so constantly from her
heart, and at last overflowing in a flood of tears when Marian was
announced as in the parlor below waiting for her charge. Fortunately
there was but little time for parting kisses and fond good-byes, for
Marian had purposely waited as long as possible ere coming, and
expedition was necessary if she reached the train.

It was Katy who made her baby ready, trusting her to no one else, and
repelling with a kind of fierce decision all offers of assistance made
either by Helen, Mrs. Cameron, Bell, or the nurse, who were present.
While Katy's hands drew on the little bright, soft socks of wool, tied
the hood of satin and lace, and fastened the scarlet cloak, her tears
falling like rain as she met the loving, knowing look the baby was just
learning to give her, half smiling, half cooing, as she bent her face
down to it.

"Please all of you go out," she said, when baby was ready--"Wilford and
all. I had rather be alone."

They granted her request, but Wilford stood beside the open door,
listening while the mother bade farewell to her baby.

"Darling," she murmured, "what will poor Katy do when you are gone,
or what will comfort her as you have done? Precious baby, my heart is
breaking to give you up; but will the Father in Heaven who knows how
much you are to me, keep you from harm and bring you back again? Some
time I'd give the world to keep you, but I cannot do it, for Wilford
says that you must go, and Wilford is your father."

At that moment Wilford Cameron would have given half his fortune to have
kept his child for Katy's sake, but it was now too late; the carriage
was at the door, and Marian, whom no one had seen but Helen, was waiting
in the hall, her thick green veil dropped before her face, and a muffler
about her mouth as if suffering from the toothache. Helen had asked if
it were so, but Marian's answer was prevented by the little procession
filing down the stairs--Mrs. Cameron and Bell, Wilford and Katy, who
carried the baby herself, her face bent over it and her tears still
dropping like rain. But it was Wilford who put his child into Marian's
extended arms, forgetting in his excitement to notice aught in the new
nurse except the long, green veil which was not raised at all, even when
Katy said, pleadingly, "You will care for her, Marian, as if she were
your own."

"Yes, I will, I will," was the response, spoken huskily and having in
it no tone like Genevra's. "I will as if it were my own," were the last
words Marian said as she went down the steps, followed by Wilford, to
whom the thought had just occurred that he ought to see her off.

Marian had not expected this, and the tension of her nerves was hardly
equal to the task of sitting there with Wilford Cameron opposite, his
baby in her lap, his voice in her ear, and his eyes turned upon her as
if curious to know what manner of woman she was. But the thick veil did
its duty well, while the muffler answered the purpose intended; it
changed the voice which was only natural once, and that when it
addressed the baby, which began to grow restless as they drew near the
depot. Then Wilford was reminded of Genevra, and the thought carried him
across the sea, so that he forgot all else until the station was reached
and he was busy, procuring checks and ticket. He saw her into the car,
procuring for her a double seat, and speaking a word for her to the
conductor, whom he knew. And this he did partly for Katy's sake, and
partly because in spite of the plain attire he recognized the lady and
felt that Marian Hazelton was no ordinary person. He offered her his
hand, wondering why hers trembled so in his grasp, wondering why it was
so cold, and wondering, too, why, if she had never been a wife, she wore
that plain gold circlet which glittered upon her third finger.

"They certainly call her Miss Hazelton," he thought, as he bade her
good-by and then left her alone, going back to the house which even to
him seemed lonely, with all the paraphernalia of babyhood removed.
Still, now that the worst was over, he rather enjoyed it, for Katy was
free from care; there was nothing to hinder her gratifying his every
wish, and with his spirits greatly enlivened as he reflected how
satisfactory everything had been managed at the last, he proposed taking
both Helen and Katy to the theatre that night. But Katy answered: "No,
Wilford, not to-night; it seems too much like baby's funeral. I'll go
next week, but not to-night."

So Katy had her way, but among the worshipers who next day knelt in
Grace Church with words of prayer upon their lips, there was not one
more in earnest than she whose only theme was, "My child, my darling
child."

She did not get over it by Monday, as Mrs. Cameron had predicted. She
did not get over it at all, though she went without a word where Wilford
willed that she should go, and even Helen, with her sounder health and
stronger constitution, grew tired of that endless round, which gave her
scarcely a quiet hour at home. And Katy was a belle again, her name on
every lip, her praise in every heart, for none could feel jealous, she
bore her honors so meekly, wondering why people liked her so much and
loving them because they did. And none admired her more than Helen, who,
scarcely less a belle herself, yielded everything to her young sister
whom she pitied while she admired, for nothing had power to draw one
look from her blue eyes, the look which many observed, and which Helen
knew sprang from the mother love, hungering for its child. Only once
before had Helen seen a look like this, and that came to Morris' face on
the sad night when she said to him, "It might have been." It had been
there ever since, and Helen, though revering him before, felt that by
the pangs with which that look was born he was a better man, just as
Katy was growing better for that hunger in her heart. God was taking his
own way to purify them both, but the process was going on and Helen
watched it intently, wondering what the end would be.



CHAPTER XXVII.

AUNT BETSY GOES ON A JOURNEY.


Just through the woods, where Uncle Ephraim was wont to exercise old
Whitey, was a narrow strip of land, extending from the highway to the
pond, and fertile in nothing except the huckleberry bushes, where the
large, dark fruit grew so abundantly, and the rocky ledges over which a
few sheep roamed, seeking for the short grass and stunted herbs, which
gave them a meager sustenance. As a whole it was comparatively
valueless, but to Aunt Betsy Barlow it was of great importance, as it
was her own--her property--her share--set off from the old estate--the
land on which she paid taxes willingly--the real estate the deed of
which was lying undisturbed in her hair trunk, where it had lain for
years. Several dispositions the good old lady had mentally made of this
property, sometimes dividing it equally between Helen and Katy,
sometimes willing it all to the former, and again, when she thought of
Mark Ray, leaving the interest of it to some missionary society in which
she was greatly interested.

How then was the poor woman amazed and confounded when suddenly there
appeared a claimant to her property; not the whole, but a part, and that
part taking in the big sweet apple tree and the very best of the berry
bushes, leaving her nothing but rocks and bogs, a pucker cherry tree, a
patch of tansy, and one small tree, whose gnarly apples were not fit,
she said, to feed the pigs.

Of course she was indignant, and all the more so because the claimant
was prepared to prove that the line fence was not where it should be,
but ran into his own dominions for the width of two or three rods, a
fact he had just discovered by looking over a bundle of deeds, in which
the boundaries of his own farm were clearly defined.

In her distress Aunt Betsy's first thoughts were turned to Wilford as
the man who could redress her wrongs if any one, and a long letter was
written to him in which her grievances were told in detail and his
advice solicited. Commencing with "My dear Wilford," closing with
"Your respected ant," sealed with a wafer, stamped with her thimble,
and directed bottom side up, it nevertheless found its way to
No. ---- Broadway, and into Wilford's hands. But with a frown and pish of
contempt he tossed it into the grate, and vain were all Aunt Betsy's
inquiries as to whether there was any letter for her when Uncle Ephraim
came home from the office. Letters there were from Helen, and sometimes
one from Katy, but none from Wilford, none for her, and her days were
passed in great perplexity and distress, until another idea took
possession of her mind. She would go to New York herself! She had never
traveled over half a dozen miles in the cars, it was true, but it was
time she had, and now that she had a new bonnet and shawl, as good as
anybody's, she could go to York as well as not!

Wholly useless were the expostulations of the family, for she would not
listen to them, nor believe that she would not be welcome at that house
on Madison Square, to which even Mrs. Lennox had never been invited
since Katy was fairly settled in it. Much at first had been said of her
coming, and of the room she was to occupy; but all that had ceased, and
in the mother's heart there had been a painful doubt as to the reason of
the silence, until Helen's letters enlightened her, telling her it was
not Katy, for she was still unchanged--was still the loving, impulsive
creature who, if she could, would take all Silverton to her arms. It was
Wilford who had built so high a wall between Katy and her friends;
Wilford who at first had endured Helen because he must, but who now kept
her with him from choice, even though she was sometimes greatly in his
way, especially when her will clashed with his and her stronger
arguments for the right swept his own aside. Far better than she used,
did Mrs. Lennox understand her son-in-law, and she shrank in horror from
suffering her aunt to go where she would be so serious an annoyance,
frankly telling her the reason for her objections, and asking if she
wished to mortify the girls.

At this Aunt Betsy took umbrage at once.

"She'd like to know what there was about her to mortify anybody? Wasn't
her black silk dress made long and full, and the old pongee fixed into a
Balmoral, and hadn't she a bran-new cap with purple ribbon, and couldn't
she travel in her delaine, and didn't she wear hoops always now, except
at cleanin' house times? Didn't she nuss both the girls, especially
Catherine, carrying her in her arms one whole night when she had the
canker-rash, and everybody thought she'd die; and when she swallered
that tin whistle didn't she spat her on the back and swing her in the
air till she came to and blew the whistle clear across the room? Tell
her that Catherine would be ashamed? she knew better!"

Then as a doubt began to cross her own mind as to Wilford's readiness to
entertain her at his house, she continued:

"At any rate, the Tubbses, who moved from Silverton last fall, and who
were living in such style on the Bowery, wouldn't be ashamed, and I can
stop with them at first, till I see how the land lies. They have invited
me to come, both Miss Tubbs and 'Tilda, and they are nice folks, who
belong to the Orthodox Church. Tom is in town now, and if I see him I
shall talk with him about it, even if I never go."

Most devoutly did Mrs. Lennox and Aunt Hannah hope that Tom would
return to New York without honoring the farmhouse with a call; but
unfortunately for them he came that very afternoon, and instead of
throwing obstacles in Aunt Betsy's way, urged her warmly to make the
proposed visit.

"Mother would be so glad to see an old neighbor," the honest youth said,
"for she did not know many folks in the city. 'Till had made some flashy
acquaintances, of whom he did not think much, and they kept a few
boarders, but nobody had called, and mother was real lonesome. He wished
Miss Barlow would come; she would have no difficulty in finding them,"
and on a bit of paper he marked out the route of the Fourth Avenue cars,
which passed their door, and which Aunt Betsy would take after arriving
at the New Haven depot. "If he knew when she was coming he would meet
her," he said, but Aunt Betsy could not tell; she was not quite certain
whether she should go at all, she was so violently opposed.

Still she did not give it up entirely, and when, a few days after Tom's
return to New York, there came a pressing invitation from the daughter
Matilda, or Mattie, as she signed herself, the fever again ran high, and
this time with but little hope of its abating.

"We shall be delighted, both mother and me," Mattie wrote. "I will show
you all the lions of the city, and when you get tired of us you can go
up to Mrs. Cameron's. I know exactly where they live, and have seen her
at the opera in full dress, looking like a queen."

Over the last part of this letter Aunt Betsy pondered for some time.
That as good an orthodox as Miss Tubbs should let her girl go to the
opera, passed her. She had wondered at Helen's going, but then she was a
'Piscopal, and them 'Piscopals had queer notions about usin' the world
and not abusin' it. Still, as Helen did not attend the theatre and did
attend the opera, there must be a difference in the two places, and into
the old lady's heart there slowly crept the thought that possibly she
might try the opera too, if 'Tilda Tubbs would go, and promise never to
tell the folks at Silverton! She should like to see what it was, and
also what full dress meant, though she s'posed it was pilin' on all the
clothes you had so as to make a show; but if she wore her black silk
gown with her best bunnet and shawl, she guessed that would be dress
enough for her.

This settled, Aunt Betsy began to devise the best means of getting off
with the least opposition. Both Morris and her brother would be absent
from town during the next week, and she finally resolved to take that
opportunity for starting on her visit to New York, wisely concluding to
keep her own counsel until she was quite ready. Accordingly, on the very
day Morris and the deacon left Silverton, she announced her intention so
quietly and decidedly that further opposition was useless, and Mrs.
Lennox did what she could to make her aunt presentable. And Aunt Betsy
did look very respectable in her dark delaine, with her hat and shawl,
both Morris' gift, and both in very good taste. As for the black silk
and the new cap, they were carefully folded away, one in a box and the
other in a satchel she carried on her arm, and in one compartment of
which were sundry papers of fennel, caraway, and catnip, intended for
Katy's baby, and which could be sent to it from New York. There was also
a package of dried plums and peaches for Katy herself, and a few cakes
of yeast of her own make, better than any they had in the city! Thus
equipped she one morning took her seat in the Boston and New York train,
which carried her swiftly on toward Springfield.

"If anybody can find their way in New York, it is Betsy," Aunt Hannah
said to Mrs. Lennox, as the day wore on and their thoughts went after
the lone woman, who with satchel, umbrella and capbox, was felicitating
in the luxury of a whole seat, and the near neighborhood of a very nice
young man, who listened with well-bred interest while she told of her
troubles concerning the sheep pasture, and how she was going to New York
to consult a first-rate lawyer.

Once she thought to tell who the lawyer was, and perhaps enhance her own
merits in the eyes of her auditors by announcing herself as aunt to Mrs.
Wilford Cameron, of whom she had no doubt he had heard--nay, more, whom
he possibly knew, inasmuch as his home was in New York, though he spent
much of his time at West Point, where he had been educated. But certain
disagreeable remembrances of Aunt Hannah's parting injunction, "not to
tell everybody in the cars that she was Katy's aunt," kept her silent on
that point, and so Lieutenant Bob Reynolds failed to be enlightened with
regard to the relationship existing between the fastidious Wilford
Cameron of Madison Square, and the quaint old lady whose very first act
on entering the car amused him vastly. At a glance he saw that she was
unused to traveling, and as the car was crowded, he had kindly offered
his seat near the door, taking the side one under the window, and so
close to her that she gave him her capbox to hold while she adjusted her
other bundles. This done and herself comfortably settled, she was just
remarking that she liked being close to the door in case of a fire, when
the conductor appeared, extending his hand officially toward her as the
first one convenient. For an instant Aunt Betsy scanned him closely,
thinking she surely had never seen him before, but as he seemed to claim
acquaintance she could not find it in her kind heart to ignore him
altogether, and so she grasped the offered hand, which she tried to
shake, saying apologetically:

"Pretty well, thank you, but you've got the better of me, as I don't
justly recall your name."

Instantly the eyes of the young man under the window met those of the
conductor with a look which changed the frown gathering in the face of
the latter into a comical smile as he withdrew his hand and shouted:

"Ticket, madam, your ticket!"

"For the land's sake, have I got to give that up so quick, when it's at
the bottom of my satchel," Aunt Betsy replied, somewhat crestfallen at
her mistake, and fumbling in her pocket for the key, which was finally
produced, and one by one the paper parcels of fennel, caraway, and
catnip, dried plums, peaches and yeast cakes, were taken out, until at
the very bottom, as she had said, the ticket was found, the conductor
waiting patiently, and advising her, by way of avoiding future trouble,
to pin the card to her shawl, where it could be seen.

"A right nice man," was Aunt Betsy's mental comment, but for a long time
there was a red spot on her cheeks as she felt that she had made herself
ridiculous, and hoped the girls would never hear of it.

The young man, however, helped to reassure her, and in telling him her
troubles she forgot her chagrin, feeling very sorry that he was going on
to Albany, and so down the river to West Point. West Point was
associated in Aunt Betsy's mind with that handful of noble men who
within the walls of Sumter were then the center of so much interest, and
at parting with her companion she said to him:

"Young man, you are a soldier, I take it, from your havin' been to
school at West Point. Maybe you'll never have to use your learning, but
if you do, stick to the old flag. Don't you go against that, and if an
old woman's prayers for your safety can do any good, be sure you'll have
mine."

She raised her hand reverently, and Lieutenant Bob felt a kind of awe
steal over him as if he might one day need that benediction, the first
perhaps given in the cause now so terribly agitating all hearts both
North and South.

"I'll remember what you say," he answered, and then as a new idea was
presented he took out a card, and writing a few lines upon it, bade her
hand it to the conductor just as she was getting into the city.

Without her glasses Aunt Betsy could not read, and thinking it did not
matter now, she thrust the card into her pocket, and bidding her
companion good-by, took her seat in the other train. Lonely and a very
little homesick she began to feel; for her new neighbors were not
one-half as willing to talk as Bob had been, and she finally relapsed
into silence, which resulted in a quiet sleep, from which she awoke
just as they were entering the long, dark tunnel, which she would have
likened to Purgatory had she believed in such a place.

"I didn't know we ran into cellars," she said, faintly; but nobody
heeded her, or cared for the anxious and now timid-looking woman, who
grew more and more anxious, until suddenly remembering the card, she
drew it from her pocket, and the next time the conductor appeared handed
it to him, watching him while he read that "Lieutenant Robert Reynolds
would consider it as a personal favor if he would see the bearer into
the Fourth Avenue cars."

Surely there is a Providence which watches over all; and Lieutenant
Reynolds' thoughtfulness was not a mere chance, but the answer to the
simple trust Aunt Betsy had that God would take her safely to New York,
never doubting until she reached it that she had been heard. And even
then she did not doubt it long, for the conductor knew Lieutenant Bob,
and attended as faithfully to his wishes as if it had been a born
princess instead of Aunt Betsy Barlow whom he led to a street car,
ascertaining the number on the Bowery where she wished to stop, and
reporting to that conductor, who bowed in acquiescence, after glancing
at the woman, and knowing intuitively that she was from the country.
Could she have divested herself wholly of the fear that the conductor
would forget to put her off at the right place, Aunt Betsy would have
enjoyed that ride very much; and as it was, she looked around with
interest, thinking New York a mightily cluttered-up place, and wondering
if all the folks were in the streets. "They must be a gadding set," she
thought; and then, as a lady in flaunting robes took a seat beside her,
crowding her into a narrow space, the good old dame thought to show that
she did not resent it, by an attempt at sociability, asking if she knew
"Mrs. Peter Tubbs, whose husband kept a store on the Bowery?"

"I have not that honor," was the haughty reply, the lady drawing up
her costly shawl and moving a little away from her interlocutor, who
continued: "I thought like enough you might have seen 'Tilda, or Mattie
she calls herself now. She is a right nice girl, and Tom is a very
forrard boy."

To this there was no reply; and as the lady soon left the car, Aunt
Betsy did not make another attempt at conversation, except to ask once
how far they were from the Bowery, adding, as she received a civil
answer, "You don't know Mr. Peter Tubbs?"

The worthy man was evidently a stranger to the occupants of that car,
and so Aunt Betsy employed her time in wondering if they kept up a sight
of style. She presumed they did from what 'Tilda had written to one of
Captain Perry's girls about their front parlor, and back parlor, and
library; but she did so hope their boarders were not the stuck up kind.
In Mrs. Peter Tubbs herself she had the utmost confidence, knowing her
to be a kind, friendly woman; and so her heart did not beat quite as
fast as it would otherwise have done when the car stopped at last upon
a crossing, and the conductor pointed back a few doors to the right,
telling her that was her number.

"I should s'pose he might have driv right up, instead of leaving me
here," she said, looking wistfully at the retreating car, which now
seemed almost like home. "Coats, and trousers, and jackets! I wonder if
there is nothing else to be seen here," she continued, as her eye caught
the long line of clothing so conspicuously displayed in that part of the
Bowery. "'Tain't no great shakes," was the feeling struggling into Aunt
Betsy's mind, as with Tom's outline map in hand she peered at the
numbers of the doors, finding the right one at last, and ringing the
bell with a force which brought Mattie at once to the rescue.

If Mattie was not glad to see her guest, she seemed to be, which
answered every purpose for the tired woman, who followed her into the
dark, narrow hall, filled with the sickly odor of the kitchen, and up
the narrow stairs, through a still darker hall, and into the front
parlor, which looked out upon the Bowery. This was comparatively
comfortable, for there was a fire in the stove, and the carpet the same
which Aunt Betsy remembered to have seen in Mrs. Tubbs' best room at
Silverton. But the diminutive dimensions of the apartment struck her at
once, and she mentally decided that it must be the "libry." But, alas!
the so-called "library" was a large-sized closet, or single room, at the
other end of the hall, and now used as an _omnium gatherum_ for the
various articles Mrs. Tubbs found necessary for her "back parlor," or
dining-room, where the table was set cornerwise, its soiled linen and
dingy napkins presenting a striking contrast to the snowy cloth which
always covered the table at the farmhouse, while the dry, baker's bread,
and the frowsy butter were almost more than Aunt Betsy could swallow,
hungry as she was.

But all this was half an hour after the time when Mrs. Tubbs came in to
meet her, expressing genuine pleasure at seeing her there, and feeling
what she said; for Mrs. Tubbs did not take kindly to city life, and the
sight of a familiar face, which brought the country with it, was very
welcome to her. Mattie, on the contrary, liked New York, and there was
scarcely a street where she had not been, with Tom for a protector;
while she was perfectly conversant with all the respectable places of
amusement--with their different prices and different grades of patrons.
She knew where Wilford Cameron's office was, and also his house, for she
had walked by the latter many times, admiring the elegant curtains and
feasting her eyes upon the glimpses of inside grandeur, which she
occasionally obtained as some one came out or went in. Once she had seen
Helen and Katy enter their carriage, which the colored coachman drove
away, but she had never ventured to accost them. Katy would not have
known her if she had, for the family had come to Silverton while she was
at Canandaigua, and as, after her return to Silverton, until her
marriage, Mattie had been in one of the Lawrence factories, they had
never met. With Helen, however, she had a speaking acquaintance; but she
had never presumed upon it in New York, though to some of her young
friends she had told how she once sat in the same pew with Mrs. Wilford
Cameron's sister when she went to the "Episcopal meeting," and the
consideration which this fact procured for her from those who had heard
of Mrs. Wilford Cameron, of Madison Square, awoke in her the ambition to
know more of that lady, and, if possible, gain an entrance to her
dwelling. To this end she favored Aunt Betsy's visit, hoping thus to
accomplish her object, for, of course, when Miss Barlow went to Mrs.
Cameron's, she was the proper person to go with her and point the way.
This was the secret of Mattie's letter to Aunt Betsy, and the warmth
with which she welcomed her to that tenement on the Bowery, over a
clothing store, and so small that it is not strange Aunt Betsy wondered
where they all slept, never dreaming of the many devices known to city
housekeepers, who can change a handsome parlor into a kitchen or
sleeping-room, and _vice versa_, with little or no trouble. But she
found it out at last, lifting her hands in speechless amazement, when,
as the hour for retiring came, what she imagined the parlor bookcase was
converted into a comfortable bed, on which her first night in New York
was passed in comfort if not in perfect quiet.

The next day had been set apart by Mattie for showing their guest the
city and possibly calling on Mrs. Wilford; but the poor old lady, unused
to travel and excitement, was too tired to venture out, seeing from the
window more than she had seen in all her life before, and coming to the
conclusion that New York must contain "a sight of folks," judging from
the crowds who passed that way and the glimpses she caught of other
crowds in the streets beyond. Still in some things she was disappointed.
New York was not so grand as she had imagined it to be--not as grand as
Helen's letters would imply; and she "didn't suppose everybody lived
upstairs and kept men's clothes to sell." The boarders, too, troubled
her. They were well enough, it is true, but they were neither fine
ladies nor gentlemen, such as Wilford and Katy; and Aunt Betsy, while
receiving every attention which Mrs. Tubbs could give her, was guilty of
wishing herself back in the clean, bright kitchen at home, where the
windows looked out upon woods and fields instead of that never-ceasing
rush which made her dizzy and faint. On the whole she was as nearly
homesick as she well could be, and so when Mattie asked if she would
like to go out that evening, she caught eagerly at the idea, as it
involved a change, and again the opera came before her mind, in spite
of her attempts to thrust it away.

"Did 'Tilda know if Katy went to the opera now? Did she s'pose she
would be there to-night? Was it far to the show house? What was the
price--and was it a very wicked place?"

To all these queries Mattie answered readily. She presumed Katy would be
there, as it was a new opera. It was not so very far. Distance in the
city was nothing, and it was not a wicked place, but over the price
Mattie faltered. Tickets for Aunt Betsy, herself and Tom, who of course
must go with them, would cost more than her father had to give. The
theatre was preferable, as that came within their means, and she
suggested Laura Keene's; but from that Aunt Betsy recoiled as from
Pandemonium itself.

Catch her at a theatre--her, a deacon's sister, looked up to for a
sample, and who run once for vice-president of the Sewing Society in
Silverton! It was too terrible to think of. But the opera seemed
different. Helen went there; it could not be very wrong, particularly as
the tickets were so high that bad folks could not go, and taking out her
purse Aunt Betsy counted its contents carefully, holding the bills
thoughtfully for a moment, while she seemed to be balancing between what
she knew was safe and what she feared might be wrong, at least in the
eyes of Silverton.

"But Silverton will never know it," the tempter whispered, "and it is
worth something to see the girls in full dress."

This decided it, and Aunt Betsy generously offered "to pay the fiddler,"
as she termed it, "provided 'Tilda would never let it get to Silverton
that Betsy Barlow was seen inside a playhouse!" To Mrs. Tubbs it seemed
impossible that Aunt Betsy could be in earnest, but when she was, she
put no impediments in her way; and so, conspicuous among the crowd of
transient visitors who that night entered the Academy of Music was Aunt
Betsy Barlow, chaperoned by Miss Mattie Tubbs and protected by Tom, a
shrewd, well-grown youth of seventeen, who passed for some years older,
and consequently was a sufficient escort for the ladies under his
charge. It was not his first visit there and he managed to procure a
seat which commanded a good view of several private boxes, and among
them that of Wilford Cameron. This Mattie, who remembered where she had
seen both Helen and Katy, pointed out to the excited woman gazing about
her in a maze of bewilderment, and half doubting her own identity with
the Betsy Barlow who, six weeks before, if charged with such a sin as
she was now committing, would have exclaimed, "Is thy servant a dog to
do this thing?" Yet here she was, a deacon's sister, a candidate for the
vice-presidency of the Silverton Sewing Society, a woman who, for
sixty-three years and a-half, had led a blameless life, frowning upon
all worldly amusements and setting herself for a burning light to
others--here she was in her black silk dress, her best shawl pinned
across her chest, and her bonnet tied in a square bow which reached
nearly to her ears, which Mattie Tubbs, who tied it, had said was all
the style. Here she was, in that huge building, where the lights were so
blinding and the crowd so great that she shut her eyes involuntarily,
while she tried to realize what she could be doing.

"I'm in for it now anyhow, and if it is wrong may the good Father
forgive me," she said softly to herself, just as the orchestra struck
up, thrilling her with its ravishing strains, and making her forget all
else in her rapturous delight.

She was very fond of music and listened eagerly, beating time with both
her feet, and making her bonnet go up and down until the play commenced
and she saw stage dress and stage effect for the first time in her life.
This part she did not like: "they mumbled their words so nobody could
understand more than if they spoke a heathenish tongue," she thought,
and she was beginning to yawn when a nudge from Mattie and a whisper,
"There they come," roused her from her stupor, and looking up she saw
both Helen and Katy entering their box, and with them Mark Ray and
Wilford Cameron.

Very rapidly Katy's eyes swept the house, running over the sea of heads
below but failing to see the figure which, half arising from its seat,
stood with clasped hands, gazing upon her, the tears running like rain
over the upturned face, and the lips murmuring: "Darling Katy! blessed
child! She's thinner than when I see her last, but oh! so beautiful and
grand! Precious lambkin! It isn't wicked now for me to be coming here,
where I can see her face again."

It was all in vain that Mattie pulled her dress, bidding her sit down
as people were staring at her. Aunt Betsy did not hear, and if she had
she would scarcely have cared for those who did look at her, and who,
following her eyes, saw the beautiful young ladies, behind whom Wilford
and Mark were standing, but never dreamed of associating them with the
"crazy thing" who sank back at last into her seat, keeping her eyes
still upon the box where Helen and Katy sat, their heads uncovered and
their rich cloaks falling off just enough to show the astonished woman
that both their necks were uncovered, too, while Helen's arms, raised to
adjust her glass, were discovered to be in the same condition.

"Ain't they splendid in full dress?" Mattie whispered, while Aunt Betsy
replied:

"Call that full dress? I'd sooner say it was no dress at all! They'll
catch their death of cold. What would their mother say?"

Then as the enormity of the act grew upon her, she continued more to
herself than to Mattie:

"I mistrusted Catherine, but that Helen should come to this passes me."

Still as she became more accustomed to it, and glanced at other
full-dressed ladies, the first shock passed away, and she could calmly
contemplate Katy's dress, wondering what it cost, and then letting her
eyes pass on to Helen, to whom Mark Ray seemed so loverlike that Aunt
Betsy remembered her impressions when he stopped at Silverton, her heart
swelling with pride as she thought of both the girls making out so well.

"Who is that young man talking to Helen?" Mattie asked, between the
acts, and when told that it was "Mr. Ray, Wilford's partner," she drew
her breath eagerly, and turned again to watch him, envying the young
girl who did not seem as much gratified with the attentions as Mattie
fancied she should do were she in Helen's place.

How could she, with Juno Cameron just opposite, watching her jealously,
while Madam Cameron fanned herself in dignity, refusing to look upon
what she so greatly disapproved.

But Mark did not care who was watching him, and continued his attentions
until Helen wished herself away, and though a good deal surprised, was
not sorry when Wilford abruptly declared the opera a bore, and suggested
going home.

They would order an ice, he said, and have a much pleasanter time in
their own private parlor.

"Please don't go; I rather like the play to-night," Katy said; but on
Wilford's face there was that look which never consulted Katy's wishes,
and so the two ladies tied on their cloaks, and just as the curtain rose
in the last act, left their box, Juno wondering at the movement, and
hoping Mark would now come around to her, while Aunt Betsy looked
wistfully after them, but did not suspect she was the cause of their
exit, and of Wilford's evident perturbation.

Running his eye over the house below, it had fallen upon the trio, Aunt
Betsy, Mattie and Tom, the first of whom was at that moment partly
standing, while she adjusted her heavy shawl, which the heat of the
building had compelled her to unfasten.

There was a start, a rush of blood to the head and face, and then he
reflected how impossible it was that she should be there, in New York,
and at the opera, too.

The shawl arranged, Aunt Betsy took her seat and turned her face fully
toward him, while Wilford seized Katy's glass and leveled it at her. He
was not mistaken. It was Aunt Betsy Barlow, and Wilford felt the
perspiration oozing out beneath his hair and about his lips, as he
remembered the letter he had burned, wishing now that he had answered
it, and so, perhaps, have kept her from his door. For she was coming
there, nay, possibly had come, since his departure from home, and
learning his whereabouts, had followed on to the Academy of Music,
leaving her baggage where he should stumble over it on entering the
hall.

Such was the fearful picture conjured up by Wilford's imagination, as
he stood watching poor Aunt Betsy, a dark cloud on his brow and fierce
anger at his heart, that she should thus presume to worry and annoy him.

"If she spies us she will be finding her way up here; there's no piece
of effrontery of which that class is not capable," he thought, wondering
next who the vulgar-looking girl and _gauche_ youth were who were with
her.

"Country cousins, of whom I have never heard, no doubt," and he ground
his teeth together as with his next breath he suggested going home,
carrying out his suggestion and hurrying both Helen and Katy to the
carriage as if some horrible dragon had been on their track.

There was no baggage in the hall, there had been no woman there, and
Wilford's fears for a time subsided, but growing strong again about the
time he knew the opera was out, while the sound of wheels coming toward
his door was sufficient to make his heart stop beating and every hair
prickle at its roots.

But Aunt Betsy did not come except in Wilford's dreams, which she
haunted the entire night, so that the morning found him tired, moody,
and cross. That day they entertained a select dinner party, and as this
was something in which Katy rather excelled, while Helen's presence,
instead of detracting from, would add greatly to the _éclat_ of the
affair, Wilford had anticipated it with no small degree of complacency.
But now, alas! there was a phantom at his side--a skeleton of horror,
wearing Aunt Betsy's guise; and if it had been possible he would have
given the dinner up. But it was too late for that; the guests were
bidden, the arrangements made, and there was nothing now for him but
to abide the consequences.

"She shall at least stay in her room, if I have to lock her in," he
thought, as he went down to his office without even kissing Katy or
bidding her good-by.

But business that day had no interest for him, and in a listless, absent
way he sat watching the passers-by and glancing at his door as if he
expected the first assault to be made there. Then as the day wore on,
and he felt sure that what he so much dreaded had really come to pass,
that the baggage expected last night had certainly arrived by this time
and spread itself over his house, he could endure the suspense no
longer, and startled Mark with the announcement that he was going home,
and should not return again that day.

"Going home, when Leavitt is to call at three!" Mark said, in much
surprise, and feeling that it would be a relief to unburden himself to
some one, the story came out how Wilford had seen Aunt Betsy at the
opera, and expected to find her at Madison Square.

"I wish I had answered her letter about that confounded sheep pasture,"
he said, "for I would rather give a thousand dollars--yes, ten
thousand--than have her with us to-day. I did not marry my wife's
relations," he continued, excitedly, adding, as Mark looked quickly up,
"Of course I don't mean Helen. She is right; and though she rasps me a
little, I'd rather have her than not. Neither do I mean that doctor, for
he is a gentleman. But this Barlow woman--oh! Mark, I am all of dripping
sweat just to think of it."

He did not say what he intended doing, but with Mark Ray's ringing laugh
in his ears, passed into the street, and hailing a stage was driven
toward home, just as a downtown stage deposited on the walk in front of
his office "that Barlow woman" and Mattie Tubbs!



CHAPTER XXVIII.

AUNT BETSY CONSULTS A LAWYER.


Aunt Betsy did not rest well after her return from the opera. Novelty
and excitement always kept her awake, while her mind was not wholly at
ease with regard to what she had done. Not that she really felt she had
committed a sin, except so far as the example might be bad, but she
feared the result, should it ever reach the orthodox church at Silverton.

"There's no telling what Deacon Bannister would do--send a subpoena
after me, for what I know," she thought, as she laid her tired head upon
her pillow and went off into that weary state halfway between sleep and
wakefulness, a state in which operas, play actors, Katy in full dress,
Helen and Mark Ray, choruses, music by the orchestra, to which she had
been guilty of beating her foot, Deacon Bannister and the whole offended
brotherhood, with constable and subpoenas, were pretty equally blended
together--the music which she liked, and the subpoena which she feared
taking the precedence of the others.

But with the daylight her fears subsided, and at the breakfast table
she was hardly less enthusiastic over the opera than Mattie herself,
averring, however; that "once would do her and she had no wish to go
again."

The sight of Katy looking so frail and delicate, but so beautiful
withal, had awakened all the olden intense love she had felt for her
darling, and she could not wait much longer without seeing her "in her
own home and hearing her blessed voice."

"Hannah, and Lucy amongst 'em, advised me not to come," she said to Mrs.
Tubbs, "hinting that I might not be wanted up there; but now I'm here I
shall go if I don't stay more than an hour."

"Of course I should," Mattie answered, herself anxious to stand beneath
Wilford Cameron's roof and see Mrs. Wilford at home. "She don't look as
proud as Helen, and you are her aunt, her blood kin, so why shouldn't
you go there if you like?"

"I shall--I am going," Aunt Betsy replied, feeling that to take Mattie
with her was not quite the thing, and not exactly knowing how to manage,
for the girl must of course pilot the way. "I'll risk it and trust to
Providence," was her final decision, and so after an early lunch she
started out with Mattie as her escort, suggesting that they visit
Wilford's office first and get that affair out of her mind.

At this point Aunt Betsy began to look upon herself as a most hardened
wretch, wondering at the depths of iniquity to which she had fallen. The
opera was the least of her offenses, for she was not harboring pride and
contriving how to be rid of 'Tilda Tubbs, as clever a girl as ever
lived, hoping that if she found Wilford he would see her home, and so
save 'Tilda the trouble? Playhouses, pride, vanity, subterfuge and
deceit--it was a long catalogue she would have to confess to Deacon
Bannister, if confess she did, and with a groan the conscience-smitten
woman followed her conductor along the street, and at last into the
stage which took them to Wilford's office.

Broadway was literally jammed that day, and the aid of two policemen was
required to extricate the bewildered countrywoman from the mass of
vehicles and horses' heads, which took all her sense away. Trembling
like a leaf when Mattie explained that the "two nice men" who had
dragged her to the walk were police officers, and thinking again of the
subpoena, the frightened woman who had escaped such peril, followed up
the two flights of stairs and into Wilford's office, where she sank
breathless into a chair, while Mark, not in the least surprised, greeted
her cordially, and very soon succeeded in getting her quiet, bowing so
graciously to Mattie when introduced that the poor girl dreamed of him
for many a night, and by day built castles of what might have been had
she been rich, instead of only 'Tilda Tubbs, whose home was on the
Bowery. Why need Aunt Betsy in her introduction have mentioned that
fact? Mattie thought, her cheeks burning scarlet; or why need she
afterward speak of her as 'Tilda, who was kind enough to come with her
to the office where she hoped to find Wilford? Poor Mattie, she knew
some things very well, but she had never yet conceived of the
immeasurable distance between herself and Mark Ray, who cared but little
whether her home were on the Bowery or on Murray Hill, after the first
sight which told him what she was. He was very polite to her, however,
for it was not in his nature to be otherwise, while the fact that she
came with Helen's aunt gave her some claim upon him.

"Mr. Cameron had just left the office and would not return that day,"
he said to Aunt Betsy, asking if he could assist her in any way, and
assuring her of his willingness to do so.

Aunt Betsy could talk with him better than with Wilford, and was about
to give him the story of the sheep pasture in detail, when, motioning to
a side door, he said, "Walk in here, please. You will not be liable to
so many interruptions."

"Come, 'Tilda, it's no privacy," Aunt Betsy said; but Tilda felt
intuitively that she was not wanted, and rather haughtily declined,
amusing herself by the window, while Aunt Betsy in the private office
told her troubles to Mark Ray; and received in return the advice to let
the claimant go to law if he chose, he probably would make nothing by
it, and even if he did, she would not sustain a heavy loss, according to
her own statement of the value of the land.

"If I could keep the sweet apple-tree, I wouldn't care," Aunt Betsy
said, "for, the rest ain't worth a lawsuit; though it's my property, and
I have thought of willing it to Helen, if she ever marries."

Here was a temptation which Mark Ray could not resist. Ever since Mrs.
General Reynolds' party Helen's manner had puzzled him; but her shyness
only made him more in love than ever, while the rumor of her engagement
with Dr. Morris tormented him continually. Sometimes he believed it, and
sometimes he did not, wishing always that he knew for certain. Here then
was a chance for confirming his fears or for putting them at rest, and
blessing 'Tilda Tubbs for declining to enter his back office, he said in
reply to Aunt Betsy's "If she ever marries," "And of course she will.
She is engaged, I believe?"

"Engaged? Who to? When? Strange she never writ, nor Katy neither," Aunt
Betsy exclaimed, while Mark, raised to an ecstatic state, replied, "I
refer to Dr. Grant. Haven't they been engaged for a long time past?"

"Why--no--indeed," was the response, and Mark could have hugged the good
old lady, who continued in a confidential tone: "I used to think they'd
make a good match; but I've gin that up, and now I sometimes mistrust
'twas Katy, Morris wanted. Anyhow, he's mighty changed since she was
married, and he never speaks her name. I never heard anybody say so, and
maybe it's all a fancy, so you won't mention it."

"Certainly not," Mark replied, drawing nearer to her, and continuing in
a low tone, "Isn't it possible that after all Helen is engaged to her
cousin, and you do not know it?"

"No," and Aunt Betsy grew very positive. "I am sure she ain't, for only
t'other day I said to Morris that I wouldn't wonder if Helen and another
chap had a hankerin' for one another; and he said he wished it might be
so, for you--no, that other chap, I mean--would make a splendid
husband," and Aunt Betsy turned very red at the blunder, which made Mark
Ray feel as if he walked on air, with no obstacle whatever in his path.

Still he could not be satisfied without probing her a little deeper, and
so he said: "And that other chap? Does he live in Silverton?"

Aunt Betsy's look was a sufficient answer; for the old lady knew he was
quizzing her, just as she felt that in some way she had removed a
stumbling block from his path. She had--a very large stumbling block,
and in the first flush of his joy and gratitude he could do most
anything. So when she spoke of going up to Katy's, he set himself
industriously at work to prevent it for that day at least. "They were to
have a large dinner party," he said, "and both Mrs. Cameron and Miss
Lennox would be wholly occupied. Would it not be better to wait until
to-morrow? Did she contemplate a long stay in New York?"

"No, she might go back to-morrow--certainly the day after," Aunt Betsy
replied, her voice trembling at this fresh impediment thrown in the way
of her seeing Katy.

The quaver in her voice touched Mark's sympathy. "She was old and
simple-hearted. She was Helen's aunt," and this, more than aught else,
helped him to a decision. "She must be homesick in the Bowery; he should
die if compelled to stay there long; he would take her to his mother's
and keep her until the morrow, and perhaps until she left for home;
telling Helen that night, of course, and then suffering her to act
accordingly."

This he proposed to his client; assuring her of his mother's entire
willingness to receive her, and urging so many reasons why she should go
there, instead of "up to Katy's," where they were in such confusion that
Aunt Betsy was at last persuaded, and was soon riding uptown in a
Twenty-third Street stage, with Mark Ray her _vis-à-vis_ and Mattie at
her right. Why Mattie was there Mark could not conjecture; and perhaps
she did not know herself, unless it were that, disappointed in her call
on Mrs. Cameron, she vaguely hoped for some redress by calling on Mrs.
Banker. How then was she chagrined, when, as the stage left them at a
handsome brownstone front, near Fifth Avenue Hotel, Mark said to her, as
if she were not of course expected to go in, "Please tell your mother
that Miss Barlow is stopping with Mrs. Banker to-day. Has she baggage at
your house?--If so, we will send around for it at once. Your number,
please?"

His manner was so offhand and yet so polite that Mattie could neither
resist him, nor yet be angry, though there was a sad feeling of
disappointment at her heart as she gave the required number, and then
shook Aunt Betsy's hand, whispering in a choked voice:

"You'll come to us again before you go home?"

"Of course I shall," Aunt Betsy answered, feeling that something was
wrong, and wondering if she herself were in fault.

With a good-by to Mark, whose bow atoned for a great deal, Mattie walked
slowly away, leaving Mark greatly relieved. Aunt Betsy was as much as he
cared to have on his hands at once, and as he led her up the steps, he
began to wonder more and more what his mother would say to his bringing
that stranger into her house, unbidden and unsought.

"I'll tell her just the truth," was his rapid decision, and assuming
a manner which warned the servant who answered his ring neither to be
curious nor impertinent, he conducted his charge into the parlor, and
bringing her a chair before the grate, went in quest of his mother, who
he found was out.

"Kindle a fire then in the front guest chamber," he said, "and see that
it is made comfortable as soon as possible."

The servant bowed in acquiescence, wondering who had come, and feeling
not a little surprised at the description given by John of the woman he
had let into the house, and who now in the parlor was looking around her
in astonishment and delight, thinking she had found New York at last,
and condemning herself for the feeling of homesickness with which she
remembered the Bowery, contrasting her "cluttered quarters" there with
the elegance around her. "Was Katy's house as fine as this?" she asked
herself, feeling intuitively that such as she might be out of place in
it, just as she began to fear she was out of her place here, bemoaning
the fact that she had forgotten her capbox, with its contents, and so
could not remove her bonnet, as she had nothing with which to cover her
gray head.

"What shall I do?" she was asking herself, when Mark appeared, explaining
that his mother was absent, but would be at home in a short time.

"Your room will soon be ready," he continued, "and meantime you might
lay aside your wrappings here if you find them too warm."

There was something about Mark Ray which inspired confidence, and in her
extremity Aunt Betsy gasped, "I can't take off my bunnet till I get my
caps down to Mrs. Tubbs'. Oh, what a trouble I be."

Not exactly comprehending the nature of the difficulty, Mark suggested
that she go without a cap until he could send for them; but Aunt Betsy's
assertion that "she was grayer than a rat," enlightened him with regard
to her dilemma, and full permission was given for her "to sit in her
bonnet" until such time as a messenger could go to the Bowery and back.
In this condition she had better be in her own room, and as it was in
readiness, Mark himself conducted her to it, the stern gravity of his
face putting down the laugh which sprang to the waiting maid's eyes at
the old lady's ejaculations of surprise and amazement that anything
could be so fine as the house where she so unexpectedly found herself a
guest.

"She is unaccustomed to the city, but a particular friend of mine; so
see that you treat her with respect," was all the explanation he
vouchsafed to the curious girl.

But that was enough. A friend of Mr. Ray's must be somebody, even if she
sat with two bonnets on instead of one, and appeared ten times more
rustic than Aunt Betsy, who breathed freer when she found herself alone
upstairs, and knew her baggage would soon be there.

In some little trepidation Mark paced up and down the parlor waiting
for his mother, who came ere long, expressing her surprise to find him
there, and asking if anything had happened that he seemed so agitated.

"Yes, I'm in a deuced scrape," he answered, coming up to her with the
saucy, winning smile she could never resist, and continuing, "To be in
at the foundation, you know how much I am in love with Helen Lennox?"

"No, I don't," was the reply, as Mrs. Banker removed her fur with the
most provoking coolness. "How should I know when you have never told me?"

"Haven't you eyes? Can't you see? Don't you like her yourself?"

"Yes, very much."

"And are you willing she should be your daughter?"

Mark had his arm around his mother's neck, and bending his face to hers,
kissed her playfully as he asked her the last question.

"Say, mother, are you willing I should marry Helen Lennox?"

There was a struggle in Mrs. Banker's heart, and for a moment she felt
jealous of the girl whom she had guessed was dearer to her son than ever
his mother could be again, but she was a sensible woman. She knew that
it was natural for another and a stronger love to come between her and
her boy. She liked Helen Lennox. She was willing to take her as a
daughter, and she said so at last, and listened half amazed and half
amused to the story which had in it so much of Aunt Betsy Barlow, who
had cleared away his doubts, and who at that very moment was an occupant
of their best guest chamber, sitting with her bonnet on, and waiting for
her cap from the Bowery.

"Perhaps it was wrong to bring her home," he added, "but I did it to
spare Helen. I knew just what a savage Wilford would be if he found her
there, where she would be in the way. Say, mother, was I wrong?"

He was not often wrong in his mother's estimation, and certainly he was
not now, when he kissed her so often, begging her to say he had done
right.

Certainly he had. Mrs. Banker was very glad to find him so thoughtful;
few young men would do as much, she said, and from feeling a little
doubtful, Mark came to look upon himself as a very nice young man, who
had done a most unselfish act, for of course he had not been influenced
by any desire to keep Aunt Betsy from the people who would be present at
the dinner, neither had Helen been at all mixed up in the affair.

It was all himself, and he began to whistle "Annie Laurie" very
complacently, thinking the while what a clever fellow he was, and
meditating other dangerous acts toward the old lady overhead, standing
by the window, and wondering what the huge building could be gleaming
so white in the fading light.

"Looks as if it was made of stone cheena," she thought, just as Mrs.
Banker appeared, her kind, friendly manner making Aunt Betsy feel wholly
at ease, as she answered the lady's questions or volunteered remarks of
her own.

Mrs. Banker had lived in the country, and had seen just such women as
Aunt Betsy Barlow, understanding her intrinsic worth, and knowing how
Helen Lennox, though her niece, could still be refined and cultivated.
She could also understand how one educated as Wilford Cameron had been
would shrink from coming in contact with her, and possibly be rude if
she thrust herself upon him. Mark did well to bring her here, she
thought, as she left the room to order the tea which the tired woman so
much needed. The satchel, umbrella and capbox, with a note from Mattie,
had by this time arrived, and in her Sunday cap, with the purple bows,
Aunt Betsy felt much better, and enjoyed the tempting little supper,
served on silver and Sèvres china, the attendant waiting in the hall
instead of in her room, where her presence might embarrass one
unaccustomed to such usages. They were thoughtful, very kind, and had
Mark been her own son she could not have been more deferential than he
appeared when just before starting for the dinner he went up to see her,
asking what message he should take to Helen. Mrs. Banker, too, came in,
her dress eliciting many compliments from her guest, who ventured to ask
the price of the diamond pin which fastened the point lace collar. Five
hundred dollars seemed an enormous sum, but Aunt Betsy was learning fast
not to say all she thought, and merely remarked that Katy had some
diamonds, too, which she presumed cost full as much as that.

"She should do very well alone," she said, "she could read her Bible,
and if she got too tired, go to bed, though she guessed she should stay
up till they came home, so as to hear about the doin's," and with a
good-by she sent them away, after saying to Mrs. Banker, "Maybe you
ain't the kissin' kind, but if you be, I wish you would kiss Katy once
for me."

There was a merry twinkle in Mark's eyes as he asked:

"And Helen, too?"

"I meant your marm, not you," Aunt Betsy answered; while Mrs. Banker
raised her hand to her mischievous son, who ran lightly down the stairs,
carrying a happier heart than he had known since Helen Lennox had first
come to New York, and he had met her at the depot.



CHAPTER XXIX.

THE DINNER PARTY.


It was a very select party which Wilford Cameron entertained that
evening; and as the carriages rolled to his door and deposited the
guests, the cloud which had been lifting ever since he came home and
found "no Barlow woman" there, disappeared entirely, leaving him the
blandest, most urbane of hosts, pleased with everybody--himself, his
guests, his sister-in-law, and his wife, who had never looked better
than she did to-night, in pearls and light blue silk, which harmonized
so perfectly with her waxlike complexion. Like some little fairy she
flitted through the rooms, receiving, with a sweet childlike grace the
kiss which Mrs. Banker gave her, but never dreaming from whom it came.
Aunt Betsy's proximity was wholly unsuspected, both by her and Helen,
who was very handsome to-night, in crimson and black, with lilies in her
hair. Nothing could please Mark better than his seat at table, where he
could look into her eyes, which dropped so shyly whenever they met his
ardent gaze. Helen was beginning to doubt the story of his engagement
with Juno, or at least to think that it might possibly have been broken
off. Certainly she could not mistake the nature of the attentions he
paid to her, especially to-night, when he hovered continually near her,
totally ignoring Juno's presence, and conscious apparently of only one
form, one face, and that the face and form of Helen Lennox.

There was another, too, who felt the influence of Helen's beauty, and
that was Lieutenant Bob, who, after dinner, attached himself to her
side, while around them gathered quite a group, all listening with peals
of laughter as Bob, who was something of a mimic, related his adventure
of two days before, with "the most rustic and charming old lady it was
ever his fortune to meet." Told by Bob the story lost nothing of its
freshness; for every particular, except indeed the kindness he had shown
her, was related, even to the sheep pasture, about which she was going
to New York to consult a lawyer.

"I thought once of referring her to you, Mr. Cameron," Bob said; "but
couldn't find it in my heart to quiz her, she was so wholly unsuspicious.
You have not seen her, have you?"

"No," came faintly from the lips which tried to smile; for Wilford knew
who was the heroine of that story; wondering more and more where she
was, and feeling a sensation of uneasiness as he thought, "Can any
accident have befallen her?"

It was hardly probable; but Wilford felt very uncomfortable after
hearing the story, which had brought a pang of doubt and fear to another
mind than his. From the very first Helen feared that Aunt Betsy was the
"odd woman" who had gotten upon the train at some station which Bob
could not remember; while, as the story progressed, she was sure of it,
for she had heard of the sheep-pasture trouble, and of Aunt Betsy's
projected visit to New York, privately writing to her mother not to
suffer it, as Wilford would be so greatly vexed. "Yes, it must be Aunt
Betsy," she thought, and she turned so white that Mark, who was watching
both her and Wilford, came as soon as possible to her side, and adroitly
separating from the group around, said softly: "You look tired, Miss
Lennox. Come with me a moment. I have something to tell you."

Alone with her in the hall, he continued, "I have the sequel of Bob
Reynolds' story. That woman--"

"Was Aunt Betsy," Helen gasped. "But where is she now? That was two days
ago. Tell me if you know. Mr. Ray, you do know," and in her agony of
fear lest something dreadful had happened, she laid her hand on Mark's,
beseeching him to tell her if he knew where Aunt Betsy was.

It was worth torturing her for a moment to see the pleading look in her
eyes, and feel the soft touch of the hand which he took between both his
own, holding it there while he answered her: "Aunt Betsy is at my house;
kidnapped by me for safe keeping, until I could consult with you. Was
that right?" he asked as a flush came to Helen's cheek, and an
expression to her eye which told that his meaning was understood.

"Is she there willingly? How did it happen?" was Helen's reply, her
hand still in those of Mark, who thus circumstanced grew very warm and
eloquent with the sequel to Bob's story, making it as long as possible,
telling what he knew, and also what he had done.

He had not implicated Wilford in any way; but Helen read it all, saying
more to herself than him: "And she was at the opera. Wilford must have
seen her, and that is why he left so suddenly, and why he has appeared
so absent and nervous to-day, as if expecting something. Excuse me," she
suddenly added, drawing her hand away and stepping back a little, "I
forgot that I was talking as if you knew."

"I do know more than you suppose--that is, I know human nature--and I
know Will better than I did that morning when I first met you," Mark
said, glancing at the freed hand he wished so much to take again.

But Helen kept her hands to herself, and answered him.

"You did right under the circumstances. It would have been unpleasant
for us all had she happened here to-night. I thank you, Mr. Ray--you and
your mother, too--more than I can express. I will see her early to-morrow
morning. Tell her so, please, and again I thank you."

There were tears in Helen's soft brown eyes, and they glittered like
diamonds as she looked even more than spoke her thanks to the young man,
who, for another look like that, would have driven Aunt Betsy amid the
gayest crowd that ever frequented the Park, and sworn she was his blood
relation! A few words from Mrs. Banker confirmed what Mark had said, and
it was not strange if that night Miss Lennox, usually so entertaining,
was a little absent, for her thoughts were up in that chamber on
Twenty-third Street, where Aunt Betsy sat alone, but not lonely, for
her mind was very busy with all she had been through since leaving
Silverton, while something kept suggesting to her that it would have
been wiser and better to have stayed at home than to have ventured where
she was so sadly out of place. This last came gradually to Aunt Betsy
as she thought the matter over, and remembered Wilford as he had
appeared each time he came to Silverton.

"I ain't like him; I ain't like this Miss Banker; I ain't like anybody,"
she whispered. "I'm nothin' but a homely, old-fashioned woman, without
larnin', without nothin'. I might know I wasn't wanted," and a rain of
tears fell over the wrinkled face as she uttered this tirade against
herself, standing before the long mirror and inspecting the image it
gave back of a plain, unpolished countrywoman, not much resembling Mrs.
Banker, it must be confessed, nor much resembling the gay young ladies
she had seen at the opera the previous night. "I won't go near Katy,"
she continued; "it will only mortify her, and I don't want to make her
trouble. The poor thing's face looked as if she had it now, and I won't
add to it. I'll start for home to-morrow. There's Miss Smith, in
Springfield, will keep me overnight, and Katy shan't be bothered."

When this decision was reached Aunt Betsy felt a great deal better, and
taking the Bible from the table, she sat down again before the fire,
opening, as by a special Providence, to the chapter where hewers of wood
and drawers of water are mentioned as being necessary to mankind, each
filling his appointed place.

"That's me--that's Betsy Barlow," she whispered, taking off her glasses
to wipe away the moisture gathering so fast upon them. Then resuming
them, she continued: "I'm a hewer of wood--a drawer of water. God made
me so, and shall the clay find fault with the potter for making it into
a homely jug? No, indeed; and I was a very foolish old jug to think of
sticking myself in with the chinaware. But I've larnt a lesson," and the
philosophic woman read on, feeling comforted to know that though a
vessel of the rudest make, a paltry jug, as she called herself, the
promises were still for her as much as for the finer wares--ay, that
there was more hope of her entering at last where "the walls are all of
precious stones and the streets are paved with gold," than of those
whose good things are given so abundantly during their lifetime.

Assured, comforted, and encouraged, she fell asleep at last, and when
Mrs. Banker returned she found her slumbering quietly in her chair, the
Bible open on her lap, and her finger upon the passage referring to the
hewers of wood and drawers of water, as if that was the last thing read.

Next morning, at a comparatively early hour, Helen stood ringing the
bell of Mrs. Banker's house. She had passed a restless, but not
altogether wretched night, for the remembrance of Mark's kindness in
keeping Aunt Betsy away, and his manner while telling her of it would
not permit of her being more than anxious as she lay awake, wondering
why Mark was so kind, and if it could be possible that he was free from
Juno and cared for her. It made her happy to think so, and her face, as
she stood upon the steps, looked bright and fresh, instead of pale and
tired, as it usually did after a night of wakefulness. She had said to
Katy that she was going out and could not tell just when she might
return, and as Katy never questioned her acts, while Wilford was too
intent upon his own miserable thoughts as to "where Aunt Betsy could be
or what had befallen her," to heed any one else, no inquiries were made
and no obstacles put in the way of her going to Mrs. Banker's, where
Mark met her himself, holding her cold hand until he led her to the fire
and placed her in a chair. He knew she would rather meet her aunt alone,
and so when he heard her step in the hall he left the room, holding the
door for Aunt Betsy, who wept like a little child at the sight of Helen,
accusing herself of being a fool, an old fool, who ought to be shut up
in the insane asylum, but persisting in saying she was going home that
very day without seeing Katy at all. "If she was here I'd like it, but I
shan't go there, for I know Wilford don't want me. Say, Helen, don't you
think he'll be ashamed of me and wish I was in Guinea?" she asked as her
desire to see Katy grew stronger, but was met and combated with her
dread of Wilford!

Helen could not tell her he would be ashamed, but Aunt Betsy knew she
meant it, and with a fresh gush of tears she gave the project up
entirely, telling Helen all she did not already know of her trip to New
York, her visit to the opera, her staying with the Tubbses and her
meeting with Mark, the best young chap she ever saw, not even excepting
Morris. "If he was my own son, he couldn't be kinder," she added, "and I
mistrust he hopes to be my nephew. You can't do better, and if he
offers, take him."

Helen's cheeks were crimson as she waived this part of the conversation
and wished aloud that she had come around in the carriage, as she could
thus have taken Aunt Betsy over the city before the train would leave.

"Mark spoke of that when he heard I was going to-day," Aunt Betsy said;
"I'll warrant you he'll tend to it."

Aunt Betsy was right, for when Mark and his mother joined their guests
and learned that Aunt Betsy's intention was unchanged, he suggested the
ride and offered the use of their carriage. Helen did not decline the
offer, and ere half an hour had passed, Aunt Betsy, with her satchel,
umbrella and capbox, was comfortably adjusted in Mrs. Banker's carriage
with Helen beside her, while Mark bade his coachman drive wherever Miss
Lennox wished to go, taking care to reach the train in time.

They were tearful thanks which Aunt Betsy gave to her kind friends as
she was driven away, going first to the Bowery to say good-by and leave
the packages of fruits and herbs, lest the Tubbses should "think her
suddenly stuck up."

"Would you mind taking 'Tilda in? It would please her mightily," Aunt
Betsy whispered, as they were alighting in front of Mr. Peter Tubbs';
and as the result of this suggestion the carriage, when again it emerged
into Broadway, held Mattie Tubbs, happier, prouder than she had been in
all her life before, while the gratified mother at home felt amply
repaid for all the trouble her visitor had made her.

And Helen enjoyed it, too, finding Mattie a little insipid and tiresome,
it is true, but feeling happy in the consciousness that she was making
others happy. It was a long drive they took, and Aunt Betsy saw so much
that her brain grew giddy and she was glad when they started for the
depot, taking Madison Square on the way and passing Katy's house.

"I dare say it is all grand and smart," Aunt Betsy said, leaning out to
look at it, "but I feel best at hum where they are used to me."

And her face did bear a brighter look, when finally seated in the cars,
than it had before since she left Silverton.

"You'll be home in April, and maybe Katy'll come, too," she whispered as
she kissed Helen good-by and shook hands with Mattie Tubbs, thanking her
for her kindness in seein' to an old woman, and charging her again never
to let the folks in Silverton know that "Betsy Barlow had once been seen
at a playhouse."

Slowly the cars moved away and Helen was driven home, leaving Mattie
alone in her glory as she rolled down the Bowery, enjoying greatly the
_éclat_ of her position, but feeling a little chagrined at not meeting a
single acquaintance by whom to be envied and admired. Only Tom saw her
alight, giving vent to a whistle, and asking if she didn't feel big, as
he tried to hold out his pantaloons in imitation of her dress and walk
as she disappeared through the door where the dry goods were swinging.

Katy did not ask where Helen had been, for she was wholly absorbed in
Marian Hazelton's letter, telling how fast the baby improved, how pretty
it was growing, and how fond both she and Mrs. Hubbell were of it,
loving it almost as well as if it were their own.

"I know now it was best for it to go, but it was hard at first," Katy
said, putting the letter away, and sighing wearily as she missed the
clasp of the little arms and touch of the baby lips.

Several times Helen was tempted to tell her of Aunt Betsy's visit, but
decided finally not to do so as it might distress her to know that
strangers rendered the hospitalities it was her duty to give, and so
Katy never guessed the truth, nor knew what it was which for many days
made Wilford so nervous and uneasy, starting quickly at every sudden
ring, going often to the window, and looking out into the street as if
expecting some one who never came, while he grew strangely anxious for
news from Silverton, asking when Katy had heard from home, and why she
did not write. One there was, however, who knew and who enjoyed it
vastly, watching Wilford closely, and guessing just how his anxiety
grew as day after day went by; and she neither came nor was heard from
in any way, for Helen did not show the letter apprising her of Aunt
Betsy's safe arrival home, and so all in Wilford's mind was left a vague
conjecture.

He had seen her, she had been in New York, as was proven by Bob
Reynolds, but where was she now, and who were those people with her? Had
they entrapped her into some snare, and possibly murdered her? It might
be. Such things were not of rare occurrence, and Wilford actually grew
poor with the uncertainty which hung over the fate of one whom in his
present state of mind he would have warmly welcomed to his fireside, had
there been a dozen dinner parties in progress. At last, as he sat one
day in his office, with the same worried look on his face, Mark, who had
also been watching him, said:

"By the way, Will, how did that sheep pasture come out, or didn't the
client appear?"

"Mark," and Wilford's voice was husky with emotion; "you've stumbled
upon the very thing which is tormenting my life out of me. Aunt Betsy
has never turned up or been heard from since that night. For aught I
know she was murdered, or spirited away, and I am half distracted. I'd
give a thousand dollars to know what has become of her."

"Put down half that pile and I'll tell you," was Mark's nonchalant
reply, while Wilford, seizing his shoulder and compelling him to look
up, exclaimed:

"You know, then? Tell me--you do know? Where is she?"

"Safe in Silverton, I presume," was the reply, and then Mark told his
story, to which Wilford listened, half incredulous, half indignant, and
a good deal relieved.

"You are a splendid fellow, Mark, though I must say you meddled, but I
know you did not do it unselfishly. Yes, on the whole, I thank you and
Helen, too, for saving me that mortification. I feel like a new man,
knowing the old lady is safe at home, where I trust she will remain. And
that Tom, who called here yesterday, asking to be our clerk, is the
youth I saw at the opera. I thought his face was familiar. Let him come
of course. In my gratitude I feel like patronizing the entire Tubbs
family."

And so it was this flash of gratitude for a peril escaped which procured
for young Tom Tubbs the situation of clerk in the office of Cameron and
Ray, the application for such situation having been urged by the
ambitious Mattie, who felt her dignity considerably increased when she
could speak of Brother Tom in company with Messrs. Cameron & Ray. And it
was also a part of the same gratitude which suggested the huge package
of merino and gingham, calico and linen, together with the handsome silk
shawl and black lace veil, which a few days later was left by the
express boy at the door of the farmhouse for Miss Betsy Barlow, who in
a long letter overwhelmed Katy with her thanks, and nearly let out her
visit to New York, as yet a secret to Mrs. Wilford.



CHAPTER XXX.

THE SEVENTH REGIMENT.


Does the reader remember the pleasant spring days of four years ago,
when the thunder of Fort Sumter's bombardment came echoing up to the
Northern hills and across the Western prairies, stopping for a moment
the pulses of the nation, but quickening them again with a mighty power
as from Maine to California man after man arose to smite the maddened
foe trailing our honored flag in the dust? Nowhere, perhaps, was the
excitement so great or the feeling so strong as in New York, when the
Seventh Regiment was ordered on to Washington, its members, who so often
had trodden the streets with a proud step, never faltering or holding
back, but with a nerving of the will and a putting aside of self,
prepared to do their duty. Conspicuous among them was Mark Ray, who,
laughing at his mother's fears, kissed her livid cheek, and then with
a pang remembered Helen--dearer even than his mother--wondering how she
would feel, and thinking the path to danger would be so much easier if
he knew her love was his, that her prayers, her wishes would go with
him, shielding him from harm and bringing him back again to the
sunshine of her presence.

And before he went Mark must know this for certain, chiding himself for
having put it off so long. True she had been sick and confined to her
room for a long while after Aunt Betsy's memorable visit; and when she
was able to go out, Lent had put a stop to her mingling in festive
scenes, so that he had seen but little of her, and had never met her
alone. But he would write that very day. She knew, of course, that he
was going, bidding him Godspeed he was sure, for her whole heart was
with the gallant men who had stood so nobly against the enemy,
surrendering only because they must. She would say that he did well to
go; and she would answer "yes" to the question he would ask her. Mark
felt sure of that; but still the letter he wrote was eloquent with his
pleadings for her love, while he confessed his own, and asked that she
would be his wife--would give him the right to carry her in his
heart--to think of her as his affianced bride--to know she waited for
his return, and would crown it at last with the full fruition of her
priceless love.

"I meet a few of my particular friends at Mrs. Grandon's to-night," he
added, in conclusion. "Can I hope to see you there, taking your presence
as a token that I may speak and tell you in words what I have so poorly
written?"

"She surely will be there, as it is the last, perhaps, she'll ever see
of some of us poor wretches," Mark said, his hand trembling a little as
he sealed the note, which he would not trust to the post.

He would deliver it himself, avoiding the possibility of a mistake, he
said, and half an hour later he rang the bell at No. ----, asking "If
Miss Lennox was at home."

She was; and handing the girl the note, Mark ran down the steps, while
the servant carried the missive to the library, where upon the table lay
other letters received that morning by the penny post, and as yet
unopened; for Katy was very busy, and Helen was dressing to go out with
Juno Cameron, who had graciously asked her to drive with her that
morning and look at a picture she had set her heart on having.

Juno had not yet appeared; but Mark was scarcely out of sight when she
came in with the familiarity of a sister and entered the library to
wait. Carelessly turning over the books upon the table, she stumbled
over Mark's letter, which, through some defect in the envelope, had
become unsealed, and lay with its edge lifted so that to peer at its
contents was a very easy matter had she been so disposed. But Juno,
though indignant and jealous--for she knew the handwriting--could not at
first bring herself even to touch what was intended for her rival. But
as she gazed the longing grew, until at last she took it in her hand,
turning it to the light, and tracing distinctly the words "My dear
Helen," while a storm of pain and passion swept over her, mingled with
a feeling of shame that she had let herself down so far.

"It does not matter now," the tempter whispered. "You may as well read
it and know the worst. Nobody will suspect it," and so, led on step by
step, she was about to take the folded letter from the envelope,
intending fully to replace it after it was read, when a rapid step
warned her some one was coming, and hastily thrusting the letter in her
pocket, she dropped her veil to cover her confusion, and then confronted
Helen Lennox, ready for the drive, and all unconscious of the wrong
which could not then be righted.

Juno was unusually kind and familiar that morning, delicately
complimenting Helen's taste with regard to pictures, and trying in
various ways to forget the letter which lay upon her conscience like
a leaden weight, driving all other thoughts from her mind, and leaving
only the torturing one, "How can I return it without detection?" Juno
did not mean to keep the letter, and all that morning she was devising
measures for making restitution, even thinking once to confess the
whole, but shrinking from that as more than she could do. As they were
driving home they met Mark Ray; but Helen, who chanced to be looking in
an opposite direction, did not see the earnest look of scrutiny he gave
her, scarcely heeding Juno, whose face was all ablaze with guilt as she
returned his bow, and whose voice trembled as she spoke of him to Helen
and his intended departure. Helen observed the tremor in her voice, and
pitied the girl whose agitation she fancied arose from the fact that her
lover was so soon to go where danger and possibly death were waiting.
In Helen's heart, too, there was a cutting pang whenever she remembered
Mark, and what had so recently passed between them, raising hopes which
now were wholly blasted. For he was Juno's, she believed, and the grief
at his projected departure was the cause of that young lady's softened
and even humbled demeanor, as she insisted on Helen's stopping at her
house for lunch before going home.

To this Helen consented--Juno still revolving in her mind how to return
the letter, which grew more and more a horror to her. It was in her
pocket yet, she knew, for she had felt it there when, after lunch, she
went to her room for a fresh handkerchief. She would accompany Helen
home, would manage to slip into the library alone, and put it partly
under a book, so that it would appear to be hidden, and thus account for
it not having been seen before; or better yet, she would catch it up
playfully and banter Helen on her carelessness in leaving her love
letters so exposed. This last seemed a very clever plan, and with her
spirits quite elated, Juno drove around with Helen, finding no one in
the parlor below, and felicitating herself upon the fact that Helen left
her alone while she ran up to Katy.

"Now is my time," she thought, stealing noiselessly into the library and
feeling for the letter.

But it was not there. It was missing, gone, and no amount of search, no
shaking of handkerchief, or turning of pocket inside out could avail to
find it. The letter was lost, and in the utmost consternation Juno
returned to the parlor, still hunting for the letter, and appearing so
abstracted as scarcely to be civil when Katy came down to see her;
asking if she was going that night to Sybil Grandon's, and talking of
the dreadful war, which she hoped would not be a war after all. Juno was
too wretched to talk, and after a few moments she started for home,
hunting in her own room and through the halls, but failing in her
search, and finally giving it up, with the consoling reflection that
were it found in the street, as seemed quite probable, no suspicion
could fasten on her; and as fear of detection, rather than contrition
for the sin, had been the cause of her distress, she grew comparatively
calm, save when her conscience made itself heard and admonished
confession as the only reparation which was now in her power. But Juno
could not confess, and all that day she was absent-minded and silent,
while her mother watched her closely, wondering what connection, if any,
there was between her burning cheeks and the letter she had found upon
the floor in her daughter's room just after she had left it; the letter,
at whose contents she had glanced, shutting her lips firmly together as
she saw that her plans had failed, and finally putting the document away
where there was less hope of its ever finding its rightful owner than if
it had remained with Juno. Had Mrs. Cameron supposed that Helen had
already seen it, she would have returned it at once; but of this she had
her doubts, after learning that "Miss Lennox did not go upstairs at
all." Juno, then, must have been the delinquent; and though the mother
shrank from the act as unladylike, if nothing more, she resolved to keep
the letter till some inquiry was made for it at least. And so Helen,
sitting by her window, and looking dreamily out into the street, with a
feeling of sad foreboding as she thought of the dark cloud which had
burst so suddenly upon the nation's horizon, enveloping Mark Ray in its
dark fold, and bearing him away, possibly never to return again, had no
suspicion of the truth, and did not guess how anxiously the young man
was anticipating the interview at Sybil Grandon's, scarcely doubting
that she would be there, and fancying just the expression of her eyes
when they first met his. Alas for Mark, also for Helen, that both should
be so cruelly deceived. Had the latter known of the loving words sent
from the true heart which longed for some word of hers to lighten the
long march and beguile the tedious days of absence, she would not have
said to Katy, when asked if going to Mrs. Grandon's, "Oh, no; please
don't urge me. I would so much rather stay at home."

Katy would not insist and so went alone with Wilford to the
entertainment given to a few young men who seemed as heroes then, when
the full meaning of that word had not been exemplified, as it has been
since in the life so cheerfully laid down and the heart's blood poured
so freely, by the tens of thousands who have won a martyr's and a hero's
name. Curiously, eagerly Mark Ray scanned each new arrival, feeling his
lips grow white and his pulses faint when he at last caught sight of
Wilford's tall figure, and looked for what might be beside it. But only
Katy was there. Helen had not come, and with a feeling of chill despair
Mark listened while Katy explained to Mrs. Grandon that her sister had
fully intended coming in the morning, but had suddenly changed her mind
and begged to be excused.

"I am sorry," Sybil said, "and so I am sure is Mr. Ray," turning lightly
to Mark, whose white face froze the gay laugh on her lips and made her
try to shield him from observation until he had time to recover himself
and appear as usual.

How Mark blessed Sybil Grandon for that kindness, and how wildly the
blood throbbed through his veins as he thought "She would not come. She
does not care. I have deceived myself in hoping that she did, and now
welcome war, welcome anything which shall help me to forget."

Mark was very wretched, and his wretchedness showed itself upon his
face, making more than one rally him for what they termed fear, while
they tried to reassure him that to the Seventh there could be no danger
after Baltimore was safely passed. This was more than Mark could bear,
and at an early hour he left the house, bidding Katy good-by in the
hall, and telling her he probably should not see her again, as he would
not have time to call.

"Not call to say good-by to Helen," Katy exclaimed.

"Helen will not care," was Mark's reply as he hurried away into the
darkness of the night, more welcome in his present state of mind than
the gay scene he had left.

And this was all Katy had to carry to Helen, who beat the window pane
nervously, fighting back the tears wrung out by her disappointment, for
she had expected to see Mark once more, to bless him as a sister might
bless a brother, speaking to him words of cheer and bidding him go on to
where duty led. But he was not coming and she only saw him from the
carriage window, as with proud step and head erect he passed with his
regiment through the densely crowded streets, where the wailing cries
and the loud hurrahs of the multitude, which no man could number, rent
the air and told how terribly in earnest the great city was, and how
its heart was with that gallant band, their pet, their pride, sent forth
on a mission such as it had never had before. But Mark did not see
Helen, and only his mother's white face as it looked when it said "God
bless my boy" was clear before his eyes as he moved on through Broadway
and down Cortlandt Street, until the ferryboat received him, and the
crowd began to disperse.

There was more than one pillow wet with tears that night as mothers,
wives and sisters wept for the loved ones gone, but nowhere were sadder,
bitterer tears shed than in the silent chamber where Helen Lennox prayed
that God would guard that regiment and bring it back again as full of
life and vigor as it had gone away. For them all she prayed, in a
general kind of way, but there was one whose image was in her heart,
whose name was ever on her lip, breaking the silence of the room, which
echoed the name of Mark, who, could he have heard that prayer, would
have cast aside the heavy pain, so hard to bear during those first days
when his cruel disappointment was fresh and the soldier duty new.

Now that Mark was gone, Mrs. Banker turned intuitively to Helen, finding
greater comfort in her quiet sympathy than in the more wordy condolence
offered by Juno, who as she heard nothing from the letter, began to lose
her fears of detection and even suffer her friends to rally her upon the
absence of Mark Ray and the anxiety she must feel on his account.
Moments there were, however, when thoughts of the stolen letter brought
a pang, while Helen's face was a continual reproach, and she was glad
when toward the first of May her rival left New York for Silverton,
where, as the spring and summer work came on, her services were needed.



CHAPTER XXXI.

KATY GOES TO SILVERTON.


A summer day in Silverton--a soft, bright August day, when the early
rareripes by the well were turning their red cheeks to the sun, and the
flowers in the garden were lifting their heads proudly and nodding to
each other as if they knew the secret which made that day so bright
above all others. Old Whitey, by the hitching post, was munching at his
oats and glancing occasionally at the covered buggy standing on the
greensward, fresh and clean as water from the pond could make it; the
harness, new, not mended, lying upon a rock, where Katy used to feed the
sheep with salt, and the whip standing upright in its socket, all
waiting for the deacon, donning his best suit of clothes, even to a
stiff shirt collar which almost cut his ears, his face shining with
anticipations which he knew would be realized. Katy was really coming
home, and in proof thereof there were behind the house and barn piles of
rubbish, lath and plaster, moldy paper and broken bricks, the tokens and
remains of the repairing process, which for so long a time had made the
farmhouse a scene of dire confusion, driving its inmates nearly
distracted, except when they remembered for whose sake they endured so
much, inhaling clouds of lime, stepping over heaps of mortar, tearing
their dress skirts on sundry nails projecting from every conceivable
quarter, and wondering the while if the masons ever would finish or the
carpenters be gone.

As a condition on which Katy might be permitted to come home, Wilford
had stipulated an improvement in the interior arrangement of the house,
offering to bear the expense even to the furnishing of the rooms. To
this the family demurred at first, not liking Wilford's dictatorial
manner, nor his insinuation that their home was not good enough for
his wife, Mrs. Katy Cameron. But Helen turned the tide, appreciating
Wilford's feelings better than the others could do, and urging a
compliance with his request.

"Anything to get Katy home," she said, and so the chimney was torn away,
a window was put here and an addition made there, until the house was
really improved with its pleasant, modern parlor and the large airy
bedroom, with bathing-room attached, the whole the idea of Wilford, who
graciously deigned to come out once or twice from New London, where he
was spending a few weeks, to superintend the work and suggest how it
should be done.

The furniture, too, which he sent on from New York, was perfect in its
kind, not elegant like Katy's, but well adapted to the rooms it was to
adorn, and suitable in every respect. Helen enjoyed the settling very
much, and when it was finished it was hard telling which was the more
pleased, she or good Aunt Betsy, who, having confessed in a general kind
of way at a sewing society that she did go to a playhouse, and was not
so very sorry either, except as the example might do harm, had nothing
on her conscience now, nothing to fear from New York, and was
proportionately happy. At least she would have been if Morris had not
seemed so off, as she expressed it, and evincing no pleasure at Katy's
expected visit. He had been polite to Wilford, had kept him at Linwood,
taking him to and from the depot, but even Wilford had thought him
changed, telling Katy how very sober and grave he had become, rarely
smiling, and not seeming to care to talk unless it were about his
profession or on some religious topic. And Morris was greatly changed.
The wound which in most hearts would have healed by this time had grown
deeper with each succeeding year, while from all he heard he felt sure
that Katy's marriage was a sad mistake, wishing sometimes that he had
spoken, and so perhaps have saved her from the life in which she could
not be wholly free. "She would be happier with me," he had said, with a
sad smile to Helen, when once she told him of some things which she had
not mentioned elsewhere, and there were great tears in Morris' eyes,
tears of which he was not ashamed when Helen spoke of Katy's distress,
and the look which crept into her face when baby was taken away. When
Morris first heard of the baby he had hoped he might love Katy less;
that she would seem to him as more a wife and less a girl, but she did
not, and there were times when the silent doctor, living alone at
Linwood, felt that his grief was too great to bear. But the deep, dark
waters were always forded safely, and Morris' faith in God prevailed, so
that only a dull, heavy pain remained, with the consciousness that it
was no sin to remember Katy as she was remembered now. Oh, how he had
longed to see her, and yet how he had dreaded it, lest poor weak human
flesh should prove inadequate to the sight. But she was coming home;
Providence had ordered that and he accepted it, looking eagerly for the
time when he should see her again, but repressing his eagerness, so that
not even Helen suspected how impatient he was for the day of her return.
Four weeks she had been at the Pequot House in New London, occupying a
little cottage and luxuriating in the joy of having her child with her
almost every day. Country air and country nursing had wrought wonders in
the baby, which had grown so beautiful and bright that it was no longer
in Wilford's way save as it took too much of Katy's time, and made her
careless for the gay crowd at the hotel.

Marian was working at her trade, and never came to the hotel except one
day when Wilford was in New York, but that day sufficed for Katy to know
that after herself it was Marian whom baby loved the best--Marian, who
cared for it even more than Mrs. Hubbell. And Katy was glad to have it
so, especially after Wilford and his mother decided that she must leave
the child in New London while she made the visit to Silverton.

Wilford did not like her taking so much care of it as she was inclined
to do. It had grown too heavy for her to lift; it was better with Mrs.
Hubbell, he said, and so to the inmates of the farmhouse Katy wrote that
baby was not coming.

They were bitterly disappointed, for Katy's baby had been anticipated
quite as much as Katy herself, Aunt Betsy bringing from the woodshed
chamber a cradle which nearly forty years before had rocked the deacon's
only child, the little boy, who died just as he had learned to lisp his
mother's name. As a momento of those days the cradle had been kept, Katy
using it sometimes for her kittens and her dolls, until she grew too old
for that, when it was put away beneath the eaves whence Aunt Betsy
dragged it, scouring it with soap and sand, until it was white as snow.
But it would not be needed, and with a sigh the old lady carried it
back, thinking "things had come to a pretty pass when a woman who could
dance and carouse till twelve o'clock at night was too weakly to take
care of her child," and feeling a very little awe of Katy who must have
grown so fine a lady.

But all this passed away as the time drew near when Katy was to come,
and no one seemed happier than Aunt Betsy on the morning when Whitey was
eating his oats, and the carriage stood on the greensward. The sky above
and the earth beneath were much as they were that other day when they
were expecting Katy, but Helen's face was not as bright, or her steps as
buoyant. She could not forget who was there one year ago, and all the
morning painful memories had been tugging at her heart as she remembered
the past, and wondered at the gloomy silence which Mark Ray had
maintained toward her ever since the day when the Seventh Regiment left
New York, followed by so many prayers and tears. He had returned, she
knew, but neither from his mother nor himself had there ever come a word
or message for her, while Bell Cameron, who wrote to her occasionally,
had spoken of his attentions to Juno as becoming more pointed than ever.

"I have strong hopes that in time Juno will be quite a woman," Bell
added. "She is not so proud and sarcastic as she used to be, and all the
while Mark was gone she seemed very much depressed, so that I began to
believe she really liked him. You would hardly recognize her in her new
phase, she acts so humble like, as if she were constantly asking
forgiveness; and this, you know, is something novel for her."

After this letter Helen sat herself resolutely at work to forget all
that had ever passed between herself and Mark, succeeding so well that
Silverton and its duties ceased to be very irksome, until the
anniversary of the morning when he had twined the lily in her hair, and
looked such fancies in her heart. It was well for her that too many
things were claiming her attention to allow of solitary regrets.

Katy's room was to be arranged, Katy's "box bed," as Aunt Betsy called
it, to be fixed, flowers to be gathered for the parlor and vegetables
for the dinner, so that her hands were full, up to the moment when Uncle
Ephraim drove away from the door, setting old Whitey into a canter,
which, by the time the "race" was reached, had become a rapid trot, the
old man holding up his reins and looking proudly at the oat-fed animal,
speeding along so fast.

He did not have long to wait this time, for the train came rolling
across the meadow, and while his head was turned toward the car where he
fancied she might be, a pair of arms were thrown impetuously around his
neck, and a little figure, standing on tiptoe, almost pulled him down in
its attempts to kiss him.

"Uncle Eph! oh, Uncle Eph, I've come! I'm here," a young voice cried;
but the words the deacon would have spoken were smothered by the kisses
which pressed upon his lips, kisses which only came to an end when a
voice said, rather reprovingly: "There, Katy, that will do. You have
almost strangled him."

Wilford had not been expected, and the expression of the deacon's face
was not a very cordial greeting to the young man who hastened to explain
that he should only stop till the next train, and then go on to Boston.
In his presence the deacon was not quite natural, but he lifted in his
arms his "little Katy-did," looking straight into her face, where there
were as yet no real lines of care, only shadows, which told that in some
respects she was not the same Katy he had parted with two years before.
There was a good deal of the city about her dress and style, and the
deacon felt a little overawed at first; but this wore off as on their
way to the farmhouse, she, sitting partly in his lap and partly in her
husband's, kept one hand upon his neck, her snowy fingers occasionally
playing with his silvery hair, while she looked at him with her loving
old smile, and asked questions about the people he supposed she had
forgotten, nodding to everybody she met, whether she knew them or not,
and at last, as the old house came in sight, hiding her face in a gush
of happy tears upon his neck, not Wilford's. That gentleman was watching
her in silence, wishing she were less impulsive, and wondering at the
strong home-love he could not understand. To him there was nothing
pleasant in that low, humble farmhouse, or in the rocks and hills which
overshadowed it; while, with the exception of Helen, the women gathered
at the door as they came up were very distasteful to him. But with Katy
it was different. They were her rocks, her hills, her woods, and more
than all, they were her folks into whose arms she threw herself with an
impetuous rush, scarcely waiting for old Whitey to stop, but with one
leap clearing the wheel and springing first to the embrace of her
mother. It was a joyful meeting, and when the first excitement was over
Katy inspected the improvements, approving all, and thanking Wilford for
having done so much for her comfort.

"I shall sleep so nicely here," she said, tossing her hat into Helen's
lap, and lying down at once upon the bed it had taken so long to make.
"Yes, I shall rest so nicely, knowing I can wear my wrapper all day
long. Don't look so horrified, Wilford," she added, as she caught his
eye. "I shall dress me sometimes; but you don't know what a luxury it
is to feel that I need not unless I like."

"Didn't you rest at New London?" Helen asked, when Wilford had left the
room.

"Yes, some," Katy replied; "but there were dances every night, or sails
upon the bay, and I had to go, for many of our friends were there, and
Wilford was not willing for me to be quiet."

This, then, was the reason why Katy came home so weary and pale, and
craving so much the rest she had not had in more than two years. But she
would get it now, and before the first dinner was eaten some of her old
color came stealing back to her cheeks, and her eyes began to dance just
as they used to do, while her merry voice rang out in silvery peals at
Aunt Betsy's quaint remarks, which struck her so forcibly from not
having heard them for so long a tune. A hit of a lecture Wilford deemed
it his duty to give her when after dinner they sat together alone for
half an hour. "She must restrain herself. Surely she was old enough
to be more womanly, and she would tire herself out with her nervous
restlessness, besides giving the people a bad opinion of Mrs. Wilford
Cameron."

To this Katy listened quietly, breathing freer when it was over, and
breathing freer still when Wilford was gone, even though her tears did
fall as she watched him out of sight, and knew it would be at least four
weeks before she saw him again. To the entire family his departure
brought relief; but they were not prepared for the change it produced in
Katy; who, freed from all restraint, came back so soon to what she was
when a young, careless girl she sat upon the doorsteps and curled the
dandelion stalks. She did not do this now, for there were none to curl;
but she strung upon a thread the delicate petals of the phlox growing by
the door, and then bound it as a crown about the head of her mother, who
could not yet quite recognize her Katy in the elegant Mrs. Wilford
Cameron, with rustling silk, and diamonds flashing on her hands every
time they moved. But when she saw her racing with the old brown goat and
its little kid out in the apple orchard, her head uncovered, and her
bright curls blowing about her face, the feeling disappeared, and she
felt that Katy had indeed come back again.

And where all the while was Morris? Were his patients so numerous that
he could not find time to call upon his cousin? Katy had inquired for
him immediately after her arrival, but in her excitement she had
forgotten him again, until Wilford was gone and tea was over, when, just
as she had done on the day of her return from Canandaigua, she took her
hat and started on the well-worn path toward Linwood. She was not going
there, she said, she only wanted to try the road and see if it had
changed since she used to go that way to gather butternuts in the autumn
or berries in the summer. Airily she tripped along, her light plaid silk
gleaming through the deep green of the trees and revealing her coming to
the tired man sitting upon a little rustic seat, beneath a chestnut
tree, where he once had sat with Katy, and extracted a cruel sliver from
her hand, kissing the place to make it well as she told him to. She was
a child then, a little girl of twelve, and he was twenty, but the sight
of her pure face lifted confidingly to his had stirred his heart as no
other face had stirred it since, making him look forward to a time when
the hand he kissed would be his own, and his the fairy form he watched
so carefully as it expanded day by day into the perfect woman. He was
thinking of that time now, and how different it had all turned out, when
he heard the bounding step and saw her coming toward him, swinging her
hat in childish abandon, and warbling a song she had learned from him.

"Morris, oh, Morris!" she cried, as she ran eagerly forward; "I am so
glad to see you. It seems so nice to be with you once more here in the
dear old woods. Don't get up--please don't get up," she continued, as he
started to rise.

She was standing before him, a hand on either side of his face, into
which she was looking quite as wistfully as he was regarding her.
Something she missed in his manner, something which troubled her; and
thinking she knew what it was, she said to him: "Why don't you kiss me,
Morris? You used to. Ain't you glad to see me?"

"Yes, very glad," he answered, and drawing her down to the bench beside
him, he kissed her twice, but so gravely, so quietly, that Katy was not
satisfied at all, and tears gathered in her eyes as she tried to think
what it was ailed Morris.

He was very thin, and there were a few white hairs about his temples, so
that, though four years younger than her husband, he seemed to her much
older, quite grandfatherly in fact, and this accounted for the liberties
she took, asking what was the matter, and trying to make him like her
again, by assuring him that she was not as vain and foolish as he must
suppose from what Helen had probably told him of her life since leaving
Silverton.

"I do not like it at all," she said. "I am in it, and must conform; but,
oh Morris! you don't know how much happier I should be if Wilford were
just like you, and lived at Linwood instead of New York. I should be so
happy here with baby all the time."

It was well she spoke that name, for Morris, listening to her as she
charged him with indifference, could not have borne much more; but the
mention of her child had a strange power over him, of quieting him at
once, so that he could calmly tell her that she was the same to him that
she had always been, while with his next breath he asked: "Where is your
baby, Katy?" adding with a smile: "I can remember when you were a baby,
and I held you in my arms."

"Can you really?" Katy said; and as if that remembrance made him older
than the hills, she nestled her curly head against his shoulder, while
she told him of her bright-eyed darling, and as she talked the
mother-love which spread itself over her girlish face made it more
beautiful than anything Morris had ever seen.

"Surely an angel's countenance cannot be fairer, purer than hers," he
thought, listening while she talked of the only thing which had a power
to separate her from him, making her seem as a friend, or at most as a
beloved sister.

A long time they talked together, and the sun was setting ere Morris
rose, suggesting that she go home, as the night dew would soon be
falling.

"And you are not as strong as you once were," he added, pulling her
shawl around her shoulders with careful solicitude, and thinking how
slender she had become.

From the back parlor Helen saw them coming up the path, detecting the
changed expression of Morris' face, and feeling a pang of fear when as
he left them after nine o'clock she heard her mother say that he had not
appeared so natural since Katy went away as he had done that night.
Knowing what she did, Helen trembled for Morris, with this terrible
temptation before him, and Morris trembled for himself as he went back
the lonely path, and stopped again beneath the chestnut tree where he
had so lately sat with Katy. There was a great fear at his heart, and it
found utterance in words as kneeling by the rustic bench with only the
lonely night around him and the green boughs overhead, he asked that he
might be kept from sin, both in thought and deed, and be to Katy Cameron
just what she took him for, her friend and elder brother. And God, who
knew the sincerity of the heart thus pleading before him, heard and
answered the prayer, so that after that first night of trial Morris
could look on Katy without a wish that she were otherwise than Wilford
Cameron's wife and the mother of his child. He was happier because of
her being at the farmhouse, though he did not go there one-half as often
as she came to him. She seemed to prefer Linwood to the farmhouse,
staying there hours, both when he was at home and when he was away,
strolling through his garden, or sitting quietly in the pleasant
summer-house which looked out upon the pond.

Those September days were happy ones to Katy, who, freed from all
restraint, became a child again--a petted, spoiled child, whom every one
caressed and suffered to have her way. To Uncle Ephraim it was as if
some bright angel had suddenly dropped into his path, flooding it with
sunshine, and making him so glad to have back his "Katy-did," who went
with him to the fields, waiting patiently till his work was done, and
telling him of all the wondrous things she saw abroad, but speaking
little of her city life. That was something she did not care to talk
about, and but for Wilford's letters, and the frequent mention of baby,
the deacon could easily have imagined that Katy had never left him. But
these were barriers between the old life and the present, these were the
insignia of Mrs. Wilford Cameron, who was watched and envied by the
curious Silvertonians, and pronounced charming by them all. Still there
was one drawback to Katy's happiness. She missed her child, mourning for
it so much that her family, quite as anxious as herself to see it,
suggested her sending for it. It would surely take no harm with them,
and Marian would come with it. To this plan Katy listened more willingly
from the fact that Wilford had gone West, and the greater the distance
between them the more she dared to do. And so Marian Hazelton was one
day startled at the sudden appearance at the cottage of Katy, who had
come to take her and baby to Silverton.

There was no resisting the vehemence of Katy's arguments, and before the
next day's sunsetting, the farmhouse, usually so quiet and orderly, had
been turned into one general nursery, where Baby Cameron reigned
supreme, screaming with delight at the tinware which Aunt Betsy brought
out from the cake cutter to the dipper, the little creature beating a
noisy tattoo upon the latter with an iron spoon, and then for diversion
burying its fat dimpled hands in Uncle Ephraim's long white hair, for
the old man went down upon all fours to do his great-grand niece homage.

That night Morris came up, stopping suddenly as a loud baby laugh
reached him, even across the orchard, and leaning for a moment against
the wall, while he tried to prepare himself for the shock it would be to
see Katy's child, and hold it in his arms, as he knew he must, or the
mother be aggrieved.

He had supposed it was pretty, but he was not prepared for the beautiful
little cherub which in its short white dress, with its soft curls of
golden brown clustering about its head, stood holding to a chair,
pushing it occasionally, and venturing now and then to take a step,
while its infantile laugh mingled with the screams of its delighted
auditors, watching it with so much interest.

There was one great, bitter, burning pang, a blur before his eyes, and
then, folding his arms composedly upon the window sill, Dr. Grant stood
looking in upon the occupants of the room, whistling at last to baby, as
he was accustomed to whistle to the children of his patients.

"Oh, Morris," Katy cried, "baby can almost walk, Marian has taken so
much pains, and she can say 'papa.' Isn't she a beauty?"

Baby had turned her head by this time, her ear caught by the whistle and
her eye arrested by something in Morris which fascinated her gaze.
Perhaps she thought of Wilford, of whom she had been very fond, for she
pushed her chair toward him and then held up her fat, creasy arms for
him to take her. Morris was fond of children and took the infant at
once, strained it to his bosom with a passionate caress, which seemed to
have in it something of the love he bore the mother, who went off into
ecstasies of joy when baby, attacking Morris' hair and patting softly
his cheek, tried to kiss him as it had been taught by Marian. Never was
mother prouder, happier than Katy during the first few days succeeding
baby's arrival, while the family seemed to tread on air, so swiftly the
time went by with that active little life in their midst, stirring them
up so constantly, putting to rout all their rules of order and keeping
their house in a state of delightful confusion.

It was wonderful how rapidly the child improved with so many teachers,
learning to lisp its mother's name and taught by her attempting to say
"Doctor." From the very first the child took to Morris, crying after him
whenever he went away, and hailing his arrival with a crow of joy and an
eager attempt to reach him.

"It was altogether too forward for this world," Aunt Betsy often said,
shaking her head ominously, but not really meaning what she predicted,
even when for a few days it did not seem as bright as usual, but lay
quietly in Katy's lap, a blue look about the mouth and a flush upon its
cheeks, which neither Morris nor Marian liked.

More accustomed to children than the other members of the family, they
both watched it closely, Morris coming over twice one day, and the last
time he came regarding Katy with a look as if he would fain ward off
from her some evil-which he feared.

"What is it, Morris?" she asked. "Is baby going to be very sick?" and a
great crushing fear came upon her as she waited for his answer.

"I hope not," he said; "I cannot tell as yet; the symptoms are like
cholera infantum, of which I have several cases, but if taken in time
I apprehend no danger."

There was a low shriek and baby opened its heavy lids and moaned, while
Helen came at once to Katy, holding her hand upon her heart as if the
pain had entered there. To Marian it was no news, for ever since the
early morning she had suspected the nature of the disease stealing over
the little child, so suddenly stricken down, and looking by the
lamplight so pale and sick. All night the light burned in the farmhouse,
where there were anxious, troubled faces, Katy bending constantly over
her darling, and even amid her terrible anxiety dreading Wilford's
displeasure when he should hear what she had done and its possible
result. She did not believe as yet that her child would die; but she
suffered acutely, watching for the early dawn when Morris had said he
would be there, and when at last he came, begging of him to stay, to
leave his other patients and care only for baby.

"Would that be right?" Morris asked, and Katy blushed for her
selfishness when she heard how many were sick and dying around them. "I
will spend every leisure moment here," he said, leaving his directions
with Marian and then hurrying away without a word of hope for the child,
growing worse so fast that when the night shut down again it lay upon a
pillow, its blue eyes closed and its head thrown back, while its sad
moanings could only be hushed by carrying it in one's arms about the
room, a task which Katy could not do.

She had tried it once, refusing all their offers with the reply: "Baby
is mine and shall I not carry her?"

But the feeble strength gave out, the limbs began to totter, and
staggering backward she cried: "Somebody must take her."

It was Marian who went forward, Marian, whose face was a puzzle as she
took the infant in her stronger arms, her stony eyes, which had not wept
as yet, fastening themselves upon the face of Wilford Cameron's child
with a look which seemed to say: "Retribution, retribution."

But only when she remembered the father, now so proud of his daughter,
was that word in her heart. She could not harbor it when she glanced at
the mother, and her lips moved in earnest prayer that, if possible, God
would not leave her so desolate. An hour later and Morris came,
relieving Marian of her burden which he carried in his own arms, while
he strove to comfort Katy, who, crouching by the empty crib, was sitting
motionless in a kind of dumb despair, all hope crushed out by his answer
to her entreaties that he would tell her the truth, keeping nothing
back.

"I think your baby will die," he had said to her very gently, pausing a
moment in awe of the white face, whose expression terrified and shocked
him, it was so full of agony.

Bowing her head upon her hands, poor Katy whispered sadly: "God must not
take my baby. Oh, Morris, please pray that he will not. He will hear and
answer you, while I have been so bad I cannot pray. But I'm not going to
be bad again. If he will let me keep my darling I will begin a new life.
I will try to serve him. Dear Lord, hear and answer, and not let baby
die."

She was praying herself now, and Morris' broad chest heaved as he
glanced at her kneeling figure, and then at the death-like face upon
the pillow, with the pinched look about the nose and lips, which to his
practiced eye was a harbinger of death.

"Its father should be here," he thought, and when Katy lifted up her
head again he asked if she was sure her husband had not yet returned
from Minnesota.

"Yes, sure--that is, I think he has not," was Katy's answer, a chill
creeping over her at the thought of meeting Wilford, and giving him his
daughter dead.

"I shall telegraph in the morning at all events," Morris continued,
"and if he is not in New York, it will be forwarded."

"Yes, that will be best," was the reply, spoken so mournfully that
Morris stopped in front of Katy, trying to reason with her.

But Katy would not listen, only answering to him that he did not know,
he could not feel, he never had been tried.

"Perhaps not," Morris said; "but Heaven is my witness, Katy, that if I
could save you this pain by giving up my life for baby's, I would do it
willingly; but God does not give us our choice. He knoweth what is best,
and baby is better with Him than us."

For a moment Katy was silent, then, as a new idea took possession of her
mind, she sprang to Morris' side and seizing his arm, demanded: "Can an
unbaptized child be saved?"

"We nowhere read that baptism is a saving ordinance," was Morris'
answer; while Katy continued: "But do you believe they will be saved?"

"Yes, I do," was the decided response, which, however, did not ease
Katy's mind, and she moaned on: "A child of heathen parents may, but I
knew better, I knew it was my duty to give the child to God, and for a
foolish fancy withheld the gift until it is too late, and God will take
it without the mark upon its forehead, the water on its brow. Oh, baby,
baby, if she should be lost--no name, no mark, no baptismal sign."

"Not water, but the blood of Jesus cleanseth from all sin," Morris said,
"and as sure as he died so sure this little one is safe. Besides that,
there may be time for the baptism yet--that is, to-morrow. Baby will not
die to-night, and if you like, it still shall have a name."

Eagerly Katy seized upon that idea, thinking more of the sign, the
water, than the name, which scarcely occupied her thoughts at all. It
did not matter what the child was called, so that it became one of the
little ones in glory, and with a calmer, quieter demeanor than she had
shown that day she saw Morris depart at a late hour; and then turning to
the child which Uncle Ephraim now was holding, kissed it lovingly,
whispering as she did so: "Baby shall be baptized--baby shall have the
sign."



CHAPTER XXXII.

LITTLE GENEVRA.


Morris had telegraphed to New York, receiving in reply that Wilford was
hourly expected home, and would at once hasten on to Silverton. The
clergyman, Mr. Kelly, had also been seen, but owing to a funeral which
would take him out of town, he could not be at the farmhouse until five
in the afternoon, when, if the child still lived, he would be glad to
officiate as requested. All this Morris had communicated to Katy, who
listened in a kind of stupor, gasping for breath, when she heard that
Wilford would so soon be there, and moaning "that will be too late,"
when told that the baptism could not take place till night. Then,
kneeling by the crib where the child was lying, she fastened her great,
sad blue eyes upon the pallid face with an earnestness as if thus she
would hold till nightfall the life flickering so faintly and seeming so
nearly finished. The wailings had ceased, and they no longer carried it
within their arms, but had placed it in its crib, where it lay perfectly
still, save as its eyes occasionally unclosed and turned wistfully
toward the cups, where it knew was something which quenched its raging
thirst. Once, indeed, as the hours crept on to noon and Katy bent over
it so that her curls swept its face, it seemed to know her, and the
little wasted hand was for a moment uplifted and rested on her cheek
with the same caressing motion it had been wont to use in health. Then
hope whispered that it might live, and with a great cry of joy Katy
sobbed: "She knows me, Morris--mother, see; she knows me. Maybe she will
live."

But the dull stupor which succeeded to that act swept all hope away, and
again Katy resumed her post, watching first her dying child, and then
the long hands of the clock which crept on so slowly, pointing to only
two when she thought it must be five. Would that hour never come, or
coming, would it find baby there? None could answer that last
question--they could only wait and pray, and as they waited thus the
warm September sun neared the western sky till its yellow beams came
stealing through the window and across the floor to where Katy sat
watching its onward progress and looking sometimes out upon the hills
where the purplish autumnal haze was lying just as she once loved to see
it; but she did not heed it now, or care how bright the day with the
flitting shadows dancing on the grass, the tall flowers growing by the
door and old Whitey standing by the gate, his head stretched toward the
house in a kind of dreamy, listening attitude, as if he, too, knew of
the great sorrow hastening on so fast. The others saw all this, and it
made their hearts ache more as they thought of the beautiful little
child, so much fairer than sky or day or flowers could be, going from
their midst when they wished so much to keep her. But Katy had only one
idea, and that was of the child growing very restless now and throwing
up its arms as if in pain. It is striking five, and with each stroke the
dying baby moans, while Katy strains her ear to catch another sound, the
sound of horses' hoofs hurrying up the road. The clergyman has come and
anon the inmates of the house gather around in silence, while he makes
ready to receive the child into Christ's flock, where it so soon will
really be.

Mrs. Lennox had questioned Helen about the name and Helen had answered:
"Katy knows, I presume. It does not matter," but no one had spoken
directly to Katy, who had scarcely given it a thought, caring more for
the rite she had deferred so long.

"He must hasten," she said to Morris, her eyes fixed upon the panting
child she had lifted to her own lap, and thus abjured the clergyman
failed to make the usual inquiry concerning the name he was to give.

Calm and white as a marble statue, Marian Hazelton glided to the back of
Katy's chair, pressing both her hands upon it, and leaning over Katy so
that her eyes too were fixed upon the little face, from which they never
turned but once, and that when the clergyman's voice was heard asking
for a name. There was an instant's silence, and Katy's lips began to
move, when one of Marian's hands was laid upon her head, while the other
took in its own the limp, while baby fingers, and Marian's voice was
very steady in its tone as it said: "Genevra."

"Yes, Genevra," Katy whispered, and then the solemn words were heard:
"Genevra, I baptize thee in the name of the Father, the Son, and the
Holy Ghost."

Softly the baptismal waters fell upon the pale forehead, and at their
touch the little Genevra's eyes unclosed, the waxen fingers withdrew
themselves from Marian's grasp, and again sought the mother's cheek,
resting there for an instant; while a smile broke around the baby lips,
which tried to say "Mam-ma." Then the hand fell back, down upon
Marian's, the soft eyes closed, the limbs grew rigid, the shadow of
death grew deeper, and while the prayer was said, and Marian's tears
fell with Katy's upon the brow where the baptismal waters were not
dried, the angel came, and when the prayer was ended, Morris, who knew
what the rest did not, took the lifeless form from Katy's lap, and
whispered to her gently: "Katy, your baby is dead!"

An hour later, and the sweet little creature, which had been a sunbeam
in that house for a few happy days, lay upon the bed where Katy said it
must be laid; its form shrouded in the christening robe which Grandma
Cameron had bought, flowers upon its pillow, flowers upon its bosom,
flowers in its hands, which Marian had put there; for Marian's was the
mind which thought of everything concerning the dead child; and Helen,
as she watched her, wondered at the mighty love which showed itself in
every lineament of her face, the blue veins swelling in her forehead,
her eyes bloodshot, and her lips shut firmly together, as if it were by
mere strength of will that she kept back the scalding tears as she
dressed the little Genevra. They spoke of that name in the kitchen when
the first great shock was over, and Helen explained why it had been
Katy's choice. Poor stricken Katy, it was Morris' task to comfort
her--Morris, who sat by her holding the hot, feverish hand she had
placed in his, and telling her of the blessed Savior who loved the
little children while here on earth, and to whom her darling had surely
gone.

"Safe in His arms it would not come back if it could," he said, "and
neither would you have it."

But Katy was the mother, and human love could not so soon submit, but
went out after the lost one with a piteous agonizing wail, which hurt
Morris cruelly.

"Oh, I want my baby back. I know she is safe, but I want her back. She
was my life--all I had to love," Katy moaned, rocking to and fro in this
first hour of her bereavement.

"You forget your husband," Morris said. "You have him left, and
husbands, I supposed, were dearer than one's children."

"Yes," Katy answered, "I have Wilford, and am glad of that; but he will
blame me so much for bringing baby here to die. He will say it was my
fault; and that I can't bear. I know it was, know I killed my baby; but
I did not mean to. I would give my life for hers, if like her I was
ready," and into Katy's face there came a look of fear which Morris
failed to understand, not knowing Wilford as well as Katy knew him.

Surely no man could reproach the half-crazed creature, who all that
night sat by the bedside of her dead child, sleeping a little in her
chair, but obtaining no real rest, so that by the morning her face was
like some white rose on which a fierce storm has beaten, breaking off
its petals and crushing out its life. At nine o'clock there came to her
a telegram. Wilford had reached New York and would be in Silverton that
afternoon, accompanied by Bell. At this last Marian Hazelton caught
eagerly as an excuse for what she intended doing. She could not remain
there after Wilford came, nor was it necessary. Her task was done, or
would be when she had finished the wreath and cross of flowers she was
making for the coffin. Laying them on baby's pillow, Marian went in
quest of Helen, to whom she explained that as Bell Cameron was coming,
and the house would be full, she had decided upon going to West
Silverton, especially as she wished to see the lady with whom she once
boarded, and who had been so kind to her.

"I might stay," she added, as Helen began to protest, "but you do not
need me. I have done all I can, and would rather go where I can be quiet
for a little."

To this last argument there could be no demur, and so the same carriage
which at ten o'clock went for Wilford Cameron carried Marian Hazelton
to the village where she preferred being left.

       *       *       *       *       *

In much anxiety and distress Wilford Cameron read the telegram
announcing baby's illness.

"At Silverton!" he said. "How can that be when the child was at New
London?" and he glanced at the words:

"Your child is dying at Silverton. Come at once.

"M. GRANT."

There could be no mistake, and Wilford's face grew dark, for he guessed
the truth, censuring Katy much, but censuring her family more. They, of
course, had encouraged her in the plan of taking her child from New
London, where it was doing so well, and this was the result. Wilford was
proud of his daughter now, and during the few weeks he had been with it
the little thing had found a strong place in his love. Many times he had
thought of it during his journey West, indulging in bright anticipations
of the coming winter, when he would have it home again. It would not be
in his way now. On the contrary, it would add much to his luxurious
home, and the young father's heart bounded as Wilford Cameron had never
believed his heart could bound, with thoughts of the beautiful baby as
he had last seen it in Katy's arms, crowing its good-by to him and
trying to lisp his name, its sweet voice haunting him for weeks, and
making him a softer, better man, who did not frown impatiently as he
used to do upon the children in the cars, but who took notice of them
all, even laying his hand once on a little curly head which reminded him
of baby's.

Alas for him, he little dreamed of the great shock in store for him. The
child was undoubtedly very sick, he said, but that it could die was not
possible; and so, though he made ready to hasten to it, he did withhold
his opinion of the rashness, as he termed it, which had brought it to
such peril.

"Had Katy obeyed me it would not have happened," he said, pacing up and
down the parlor and preparing to say more, when Bell came to Katy's aid,
and lighting furiously upon him, asked what he meant by blaming his
wife so much.

"For my part," she said, "I think there has been too much fault-finding
and dictation from the very day of the child's birth till now, and if
God takes it, as he may, I shall think it a judgment upon you. First you
were half vexed with Katy because it was not a boy, as if she were to
blame; then you did not like it because it was not more promising and
fair; next it was in your way, and so you sent it off, never considering
Katy any more than if she were a mere automaton, to turn which way you
said. Then you must needs forbid her taking it home to her own family,
as if they had no right, no interest in it. I tell you, Will, it is not
all Cameron--there is some Barlow blood in its veins--Aunt Betsy
Barlow's, too, and you cannot wash it out. Katy had a right to take her
own child where she pleased, and you are not a man if you censure her
for it, as I see in your eyes you mean to do. Suppose it had stayed in
New London and been struck with lightning--you would have been to blame,
of course, according to your own view of things."

There was too much truth in Bell's remarks for Wilford to retort, even
had he been disposed, and he contented himself with a haughty toss of
his head as she left the room to get herself in readiness for the
journey she insisted upon taking. Wilford was glad she was going, as her
presence at Silverton would relieve him of the awkward embarrassment he
always felt when there; and magnanimously forgiving her for the
plainness of her speech, he was the most attentive of brothers until
Silverton was reached and he found Dr. Grant waiting for him. Something
in his face, as he came forward to meet them, startled both Wilford and
Bell, the latter of whom asked quickly:

"Is the baby better?"

"Baby is dead," was the brief reply, and Wilford staggered back against
the doorpost, where he leaned a moment for support in that first great
shock for which he was not prepared.

"Dead," he repeated, "our baby dead," and Morris was glad that he said
our, as it indicated a thought of Katy as a mutual sharer in the loss.

Upon the doorstep Bell sat down, crying quietly, for she had loved the
little child, and she listened anxiously while Morris repeated the
particulars of its illness and then spoke of Katy's reproaching herself
so bitterly for having brought it from New London. "She seems entirely
crushed," he continued, when they were driving toward the farmhouse.
"For a few hours I trembled for her reason, while the fear that you
might reproach her added much to the poignancy of her grief."

Morris said this very calmly, as if it were not what he had all the
while intended saying, and his eye turned toward Wilford, whose lips
were compressed with the emotion he was evidently trying to control. It
was Bell who spoke first. Bell who said impulsively; "Poor Katy, I knew
she would feel so, but it is unnecessary, for none but a savage would
reproach her now, even if she were in fault."

Morris blessed Bell Cameron in his heart, knowing how much influence her
words would have upon her brother, who brushed away the first tear he
had shed, and tried to say that "of course she was not to blame."

They were in sight of the farmhouse now, and Bell, with her city ideas,
was looking curiously at it, mentally pronouncing it a nicer, pleasanter
place than she had supposed, inasmuch as it reminded her of the
description she had read of the Virginia farmhouse, where a young
officer was encamped for a few days, an officer who wore a lieutenant's
uniform and who signed himself as Bob. It was very quiet about the
house, and old Whitey's neigh as Morris' span of bays came up was the
only sound which greeted them. In the woodshed door Uncle Ephraim sat
smoking his clay pipe and likening the feathery waves which curled above
his head to the little soul so recently gone upward, while by his side,
upon a log of wood, holding a pan of the luscious peaches she was
slicing up for tea, sat a woman whom Bell knew at once for Aunt Betsy
Barlow, thinking more of the peaches than of the old lady who, pan in
hand, came forward to met her, curtseying very low when introduced by
Morris, and asking to be excused from shaking hands, inasmuch as hers
were not fit to be touched. Bell's quick eye took her in at a glance,
from her clean spotted gown to her plain muslin cap tied with a black
ribbon, put on that day with a view to mourning, and then darted off to
Uncle Ephraim, who won her heart at once when she heard how his voice
trembled as he took Wilford's hand and said so pityingly, so
father-like: "Young man, this is a sad day for you and you have my
sympathy, for I remember well how my heart ached when, on just such a
day as this, my only child lay dead as yours is lying."

Every muscle of Wilford's face quivered then, but he was too proud to
show all that he felt, and he was glad when Helen appeared in the door,
as that diverted his mind somewhat, and he greeted her most cordially,
even stooping down and kissing her smooth forehead, a thing he had never
done before. But sorrow is a great softener and Wilford was very sorry,
feeling his loss more here where everything was so quiet, so suggestive
of death.

"Where is Katy?" he asked.

"She is sleeping for the first time since the baby died. She is in here
with the child. She will stay nowhere else," Helen said, opening softly
the door of the bedroom and motioning Wilford in.

With hushed breath and a beating heart, Wilford stepped across the
threshold and Helen closed the door, leaving him alone with the living
and the dead. Pure and beautiful as some fair blossom, the dead child
lay upon the bed, the curls of golden hair clustering about its head,
and on its lips the smile which had settled there when it tried to say
"mamma"--its dimpled hands folded upon its breast, where lay the cross
of flowers which Marian Hazelton had made--flowers upon its pillow,
flowers around its head, flowers upon its shroud, flowers everywhere,
and itself the fairest flower of all, Wilford thought as he stood gazing
at it and then let his eye move on to where poor, tired, worn-out Katy
had crept up so close beside it that her breath touched the marble cheek
and her own disordered hair rested upon the pillow of her child. Even in
her sleep her tears kept dropping from the long eyelashes, and the pale
lips quivered in a grieved, touching way. Hard indeed would Wilford have
been had he cherished one bitter thought against the wife so wounded. He
could not when he saw her, but no one ever knew just what passed through
his mind during the half hour he sat there beside her, scarcely
stirring and not daring to kiss his child lest he should awaken her. He
could hear the ticking of his watch and the beating of his heart as he
waited for the first sound which should herald Katy's waking.

Suddenly there was a low, gasping moan, and Katy's eyes unclosed and
rested on her husband. He was bending over her in an instant, and her
arms were around his neck, while she said to him so sadly:

"Our baby is dead--you've nobody left but me; and oh! Wilford, you will
not blame me bringing baby here? I did not think she would die. I'd give
my life for hers if that would bring her back. Say, Wilford, would you
rather it was me lying as baby lies, and she here in your arms?"

"No, Katy," Wilford answered, and by his voice Katy knew that she was
wholly forgiven, crying on his neck in a plaintive, piteous way, while
Wilford soothed and pitied and caressed, feeling subdued and humbled,
and we must confess it, feeling too how very good and generous he was to
be thus forbearing, when but for Katy's act of disobedience they might
not now be childless!

       *       *       *       *       *

With a great gust of tears Bell Cameron bent over the little form, and
then enfolded Katy in a more loving embrace than he had ever given her
before; but whatever she might have said was prevented by the arrival of
the coffin and the confusion which followed.

Much Wilford regretted that New York was so far away, for a city coffin
was more suitable, he thought, for a child of his, than the one which
Dr. Grant had ordered. But that was really of less consequence than the
question where should the child be buried? A costly monument at
Greenwood was in accordance with his ideas, but all things indicated
a contemplated burial there in the country churchyard, and sorely
perplexed he called on Bell as the only Cameron at hand, to know what
he should do.

"Do just as Katy prefers," was Bell's reply, as she led him to the
coffin and pointed to the name: "Little Genevra Cameron, aged nine
months and twenty days."

"What is it, Wilford--what is the matter?" she asked, as her brother
turned whiter than his child, and struck his hand upon his head as if
a blow had fallen there.

Had "Genevra Lambert, aged twenty-two," met his eye, he could not have
been more startled than he was; but soon rallying, he said to Morris,
who came near:

"The child was baptized then?"

"Yes, baptized Genevra. That was Katy's choice, I understand," Morris
replied, and Wilford bowed his head, wishing the Genevra across the sea
might know that his child bore her name.

"Perhaps she does," he thought, and his heart grew warm with the fancy
that possibly in that other world, whose existence he never really
doubted, the Genevra he had wronged would care for his child, if
children there need care. "She will know it is mine at least," he said,
and with a thoughtful face he went in quest of Katy, whom he found
sobbing by the side of the mourning garments just sent in for her
inspection.

Wilford was averse to black. It would not become Katy, he feared, and it
would be an unanswerable reason for her remaining closely home for the
entire winter.

"What's this?" he asked, lifting the crape veil and dropping it again
with an impatient gesture as Helen replied: "It is Katy's mourning
veil."

Contrary to his expectations, black was becoming to Katy, who looked
like a pure white lily, as, leaning on Wilford's arm next day, she stood
by the grave where they were burying her child.

Wilford had spoken to her of Greenwood, but she had begged so hard that
he had given up that idea, suggesting next, as more in accordance with
city custom, that she remain at home while he only followed to the
grave; but from this Katy recoiled in such distress that he gave up too,
and bore, magnanimously, as he thought, the sight of all the Barlows
standing around that grave, alike mourners with himself, and all a right
to be there. Wilford felt his loss deeply, and his heart ached to its
very core as he heard the gravel rattling down upon the coffin lid which
covered the beautiful child he had loved so much. But amid it all he
never for a moment forgot that he was Wilford Cameron, and infinitely
superior to the crowd around him--except, indeed, his wife, his sister,
Dr. Grant, and Helen. He could bear to see them sorry, and feel that by
their sorrow they honored the memory of his child. But for the rest--the
village herd, with the Barlows in their train--he had no affinity, and
his manner was as haughty and distant as ever as he passed through their
midst back to the carriage, which took him again to the farmhouse.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

AFTER THE FUNERAL.


Had there been a train back to New York that afternoon Wilford would
most certainly have suggested going, but as there was none he passed the
time as well as he could, finding Bell a great help to him, but
wondering that she could assimilate so readily with such people,
declaring herself in love with the farmhouse, and saying she should like
to remain there for weeks, if the days were all as sunny as this, the
dahlias as gorgeously bright, and the peaches by the well as delicious
and ripe. To these the city girl took readily, visiting them the last
thing before retiring, while Wilford found her there when he arose next
morning, her dress and slippers nearly spoiled with the heavy dew, and
her hands full of the fresh fruit which Aunt Betsy knocked from the tree
with a quilting rod; her dress pinned around her waist, and disclosing a
petticoat scrupulously clean, but patched and mended with so many
different patterns and colors that the original ground was lost, and
none could tell whether it had been red or black, buff or blue. Between
Aunt Betsy and Bell the most amicable feeling had existed ever since the
older lady had told the younger how all the summer long she had been
drying fruit, "thimble-berries, blue-berries and huckleberries" for the
soldiers, and how she was now drying peaches for Willard Buxton--once
their hired man. These she should tie up in a salt bag, and put in the
next box sent by the society of which she seemed to be head and front,
"kind of fust directress," she said, and Bell was interested at once,
for among the soldiers down by the Potomac was one who carried with him
the whole of Bell Cameron's heart; and who for a few days had tarried at
just such a dwelling as the farmhouse, writing back to her such pleasant
descriptions of it, with its fresh grass and shadowy trees, that she had
longed to be there too. So it was through this page of romance and love
that Bell looked at the farmhouse and its occupants, preferring good
Aunt Betsy because she seemed the most interested in the soldiers,
working as soon as breakfast was over upon the peaches, and kindly
furnishing her best check apron, together with pan and knife for Bell,
who offered her assistance, notwithstanding Wilford's warning that the
fruit would stain her hands, and his advice that she had better be
putting up her things for going home.

"She was not going that day," she said, point-blank, and as Katy too
had asked to stay a little longer, Wilford was compelled to yield, and
taking his hat sauntered off toward Linwood; while Katy went listlessly
into the kitchen, where Bell Cameron sat, her tongue moving much faster
than her hands, which pared so slowly and cut away so much of the juicy
pulp, besides making so frequent journeys to her mouth, that Aunt Betsy
looked in alarm at the rapidly disappearing fruit, wishing to herself
that "Miss Cameron had not listed."

But Miss Cameron had enlisted, and so had Bob, or rather he had gone to
do his duty, and as she worked, she repeated to Helen the particulars of
his going, telling how, when the war first broke out, and Sumter was
bombarded, Rob, who, from long association with Southern men at West
Point, had imbibed many of their ideas, was very sympathetic with the
rebelling States, gaining the cognomen of a secessionist, and once
actually thinking of casting in his lot with that side rather than the
other. But the remembrance of a little incident saved him, she said. The
remembrance of a queer old lady whom he met in the cars, and who, at
parting, held her wrinkled hand above his head in benediction, charging
him not to go against the flag, and promising her prayers for his safety
if found on the side of the Union.

"I wish you could hear Bob tell the story, the funny part, I mean,"
she continued, narrating, as well as she could, the particulars of
Lieutenant Bob's meeting with Aunt Betsy, who, as the story progressed
and she recognized herself in the queer old Yankee woman, who shook
hands with the conductor and was going to law about a sheep pasture,
dropped her head lower and lower over her pan of peaches, while a
scarlet flush spread itself all over her thin face, but changed into a
grayish white as Bell concluded with "Bob says the memory of that hand
lifted above his head haunted him day and night, during the period of
his uncertainty, and was at last the means of saving him from treachery
to his country."

"Thank God!" came involuntarily from Aunt Betsy's quivering lips, and,
looking up, Bell saw the great tears running down her cheeks, tears
which she wiped away with her arm, while she said faintly: "That old
woman, who made a fool of herself in the cars, was me!"

"You, Miss Barlow, you!" Bell exclaimed, forgetting in her astonishment
to carry to her mouth the luscious half peach she had intended for that
purpose, and dropping it untasted into the pan, while Katy, who had been
listening with some considerable interest, came quickly forward, saying:
"You, Aunt Betsy! When were you in New York, and why did I never know
it?"

It could not be kept back, and, unmindful of Bell, Helen explained to
Katy as well as she could the circumstances of Aunt Betsy's visit to New
York the previous winter.

"And she never let me know it, or come to see me, because--because--"
Katy hesitated, and looked at Bell, who said, pertly: "Because Will is
so abominably proud, and would have made such a fuss. Don't spoil a
story for relations' sake, I beg," and the young lady laughed good
humoredly, restoring peace to all save Katy, whose face wore a troubled
look, and who soon stole away to her mother, whom she questioned further
with regard to a circumstance which seemed so mysterious to her.

"Miss Barlow," Bell said, when Katy was gone, "you will forgive one for
repeating that story as I did. Of course I had no idea it was you of
whom I was talking."

Bell was very earnest, and her eyes looked pleadingly upon Aunt Betsy,
who answered her back: "There's nothing to forgive. You only told the
truth. I did make an old fool of myself, but if I helped that boy to a
right decision, my journey did some good, and I ain't sorry now if I
did go to the playhouse. I confessed that to the sewing circle, and Mrs.
Deacon Bannister ain't seemed the same toward me since, but I don't
care. I beat her on the election to first directress of the Soldiers'
Aid. She didn't run half as well as me. That chap you call Bob, is he
anything to you? Is he your beau?"

It was Bell's turn now to blush and then grow white, while Helen
lightly touching the superb diamond on her first finger, said: "That
indicates as much. When did it happen, Bell?"

Mrs. Cameron had said they were not a family to bruit their affairs
abroad, and if so, Bell was not like her family, for she answered
frankly: "Just before he went away. It's a splendid diamond, isn't it?"
and she held it up for Helen to inspect.

The basket was empty by this time, and as Aunt Betsy went to fill it
from the trees, Bell and Helen were left alone, the former continuing in
a low, sad tone: "I've been so sorry sometimes that I did not tell Bob I
loved him, when he wished me to so much."

"Not tell him you loved him! How then could you tell him yes, as it
appears you did?" Helen asked, and Bell answered: "I could not well help
that; it came so sudden and he begged so hard, saying my promise would
make him a better man, a better soldier and all that. It was the very
night before he went, and so I said that out of pity and patriotism I
would give the promise, and I did, but it seemed too much for a woman to
tell a man all at once that she loved him, and I wouldn't do it, but
I've been sorry since; oh, so sorry, during the two days when we heard
nothing from him after that dreadful battle at Bull Run. We knew he was
in it, and I thought I should die until his telegram came saying he was
safe. I did sit down then and commence a letter, confessing all I felt,
but I tore it up, and he don't know now just how I feel."

"And do you really love him?" Helen asked, puzzled by this strange girl,
who laughingly held up her soft, white hand, stained and blackened with
the juice of the fruit she had been paring, and said: "Do you suppose I
would spoil my hands like that and incur _ma chère-mamma's_ displeasure,
if Bob were not in the army and I did not care for him? And now that I
have confessed so much, allow me to catechise you. Did Mark Ray ever
propose and you refuse him?"

"Never!" and Helen's face grew crimson, while Bell continued: "That is
funny. Half our circle think so, though how the impression was first
given I do not know. Mother told me, but would not tell where she
received her information. I heard of it again in a few days, and have
reason to believe that Mrs. Banker knows it too and feels a little
uncomfortable that her son should be refused when she considers him
worthy of the empress herself."

Helen was very white, and her limbs shook as she asked: "And how with
Mark and Juno?"

"Oh, off and on," Bell replied; "that is, Juno is always on, while Mark
is more uncertain, and Juno really has improved in some respects. As I
wrote you once, she is very docile when with Mark, and acts as if trying
to atone for something--her old badness, I guess. You are certain you
never cared for Mark Ray?"

This was so abrupt and Bell's eyes were so searching that Helen grew
giddy for a moment and grasped the back of the chair, as she replied: "I
did not say I never cared for him. I said he never proposed; and that is
true; he never did."

"And if he had?" Bell continued, never taking her eyes from Helen, who,
had she been less agitated, would have denied Bell's right to question
her so closely. Now, however, she answered blindly: "I do not know. I
cannot tell. I thought him engaged to Juno."

"Well, if that is not the rarest case of cross-purposes that I ever
knew," Bell said, wiping her hands upon Aunt Betsy's apron, and
preparing to attack the piled up basket just brought in.

Further conversation was impossible, and, with her mind in a perfect
tempest of thought, Helen went away, trying to decide what it was best
for her to do. Some one had spread the report that she had refused Mark
Ray, telling of the refusal, of course, or how else could it have been
known? and this accounted for Mrs. Banker's long-continued silence.
Since Helen's return to Silverton Mrs. Banker had written two or thee
kind, friendly letters, which did her so much good; but these had
suddenly ceased, and Helen's last remained as yet unanswered. She saw
the reason now, every nerve quivering with pain as she imagined what
Mrs. Banker must think of one who could make a refusal public, or what
was tenfold worse, pretend to an offer she never received. "She must
despise me, and Mark Ray, too, if he has heard of it," she said,
resolving one moment to ask Bell to explain to Mrs. Banker, and then
changing her mind and concluding to let matters take their course,
inasmuch as interference from her might be construed by the mother into
undue interest in the son. "Perhaps Bell will do it without my asking,"
she thought, and this hope did much toward keeping her spirits up on
that last day of Katy's stay at home, for she was going back in the
morning. Wilford would not leave her, though she begged to stay. He did
not like the sad expression of her face, and he must take her where she
would have more excitement, hoping thus to win her from her grief, and
perhaps induce her to lay aside her black, which would be so serious a
hindrance to his enjoyment. But Katy clung to that as to a strict,
religious duty, saying to Helen, as in the twilight they sat together
up in their old room, talking of the ensuing winter, which would be so
different from the last:

"If anything besides the feeling that she is so much happier, could
reconcile me to baby's loss, it is the knowing that my mourning will
keep me from the society in which I could not mingle so soon," and her
tears dropped upon the somber robes, which had transformed her so
suddenly from the gay, airy creature of fashion into the sober, quiet
woman who seemed older, soberer than even Helen herself.

They did not see Marian Hazelton again, and Katy wondered at it,
deciding that in some things Marian was very peculiar, while Wilford and
Bell were slightly disappointed, as both had a desire to meet and
converse with one who had been so like a second mother to the little
dead Genevra. Wilford spoke of his child now as Genevra, but to Katy it
was baby still; and, with choking sobs and passionate tears, she bade
good-by to the little mound underneath which it was lying, and then went
back to her city home.



CHAPTER XXXIV.

THE FIRST WIFE.


Softly and swiftly the hazy September days glided into dun October, who
shook down leafy showers of crimson and of gold upon the withered grass,
and then gave place to the dark November rains, which made the city seem
doubly desolate to Katy, who, like the ghost of her former self, moved
listlessly about her handsome home, starting quickly as a fancied baby
cry fell on her ear, and then weeping bitterly as she remembered the sad
past and thought of the still sadder present. Katy was very unhappy, and
the world, as she looked upon it, seemed utterly cheerless. For much of
this unhappiness Wilford was himself to blame. After the first few days,
during which he was all kindness and devotion, he did not try to comfort
her, but seemed irritated that she should mourn so deeply for the child
which, but for her indiscretion, might have been living still. Her
seclusion from gay society troubled him. He did not like staying at
home, and their evenings, when they were alone, passed in gloomy
silence. At last Mrs. Cameron, annoyed at what annoyed her son, brought
her influence to bear upon her daughter-in-law, trying to rouse her to
something like her olden interest in the world; but all to no effect,
and matters grew constantly worse, as Wilford thought Katy unreasonable
and selfish, while Katy tried hard not to think him harsh in his
judgment of her, and exacting in his requirements. "Perhaps she was
the one most in fault; it could not be pleasant for him to see her so
entirely changed from what she used to be," she thought, one morning
late in November, when her husband had just left her with an angry frown
upon his face and reproachful words upon his lips.

Father Cameron and his daughters were out of town, and Mrs. Cameron,
feeling lonely in their absence, had asked Wilford and Katy to dine with
her. But Katy did not wish to go, and so Wilford had left her in anger,
saying "she could suit herself, but he should go at all events."

Left alone, Katy began to feel that she had done wrong in declining the
invitation. Surely she could go there, and the echo of the bang with
which Wilford had closed the street door was still vibrating in her ear,
when her resolution began to give way, and while Wilford was riding
moodily downtown, thinking harsh things against her, she was meditating
what she thought might be an agreeable surprise. She would go around and
meet him at dinner, trying to appear as much like her old self as she
could, and so atone for anything which had hitherto been wrong in her
demeanor.

It was strange how much better Katy felt when this decision was reached,
and Esther, below stairs, raised her finger warningly for the cook to
listen as her mistress trilled a few notes of a song. It was the first
time since her return from Silverton that a sound like that had been
heard within the house, and it seemed the precursor of better days. At
lunch, too, Katy's face was very bright, and Esther was surprised when,
later in the day, she was sent for to arrange her mistress' hair, as she
had not arranged it since baby died. Greatly annoyed, Wilford had been
by the smooth bands combed so plainly back, and at the blackness of the
dress; but now there was a change, and graceful curls fell about the
face, giving it the girlish expression which Wilford liked. The
somberness of the dark dress was relieved by simple folds of white crape
at the throat and wrists, while the handsome jet ornaments, the gift of
Wilford's father, added to the style and beauty of the childish figure,
which had seldom looked lovelier than when ready and waiting for the
carriage. At the door there was a ring, and Esther brought a note to
Katy, who, recognizing her husband's handwriting, tore it quickly open
and read as follows:

"DEAR KATY: I have been suddenly called to leave the city on business,
which will probably detain me for three days or more, and as I must go on
the night train, I wish Esther to have my portmanteau ready with whatever
I may need for the journey. As I proposed this morning, I shall dine with
mother, but come home immediately after dinner. W. CAMERON."

Katy was glad now that she had decided to meet him at his mother's, as
the knowing she had pleased him would make the time of his absence more
endurable, and after seeing that everything was ready for him she
stepped with a comparatively light heart into her carriage, and was
driven to No. ---- Fifth Avenue.

Mrs. Cameron was out, the servant said, but was expected every minute
with Mr. Wilford.

"Never mind," Katy answered; "I want to surprise them, so please don't
tell them I am here when you let them in," and going into the library
she sat down before the grate, waiting rather impatiently until the door
bell rang and she heard both Wilford's and Mrs. Cameron's voice in the
hall.

Contrary to her expectations, they did not come into the library, but
went instead into the parlor, the door of which was partially ajar, so
that every word they said could be distinctly heard where Katy sat. It
would seem that they were continuing a conversation which had been
interrupted by their arriving home, for Mrs. Cameron said, with the tone
she always assumed when sympathizing with her son: "I am truly sorry for
you. Is she never more cheerful than when I have seen her?"

"Never," and Katy could feel just how Wilford's lips shut over his
teeth as he said it; "never more cheerful, but worse if anything. Why,
positively the house seems so like a funeral that I hate to leave the
office and go back to it at night, knowing how mopish and gloomy Katy
will be."

"My poor boy, it is worse than I feared," Mrs. Cameron said, with a
little sigh, while Katy, with a great gasping sob, tried to rise and go
to them, to tell them she was there--the mopish Katy, who made her home
so like a funeral to her husband.

But her limbs refused to move, and she sank back powerless in her chair,
compelled to listen to things which no true husband should ever say to a
mother of his wife, especially when that wife's error consisted
principally in mourning too much for the child "which but for her
imprudence might have been living then." These were Wilford's very
words, and though Katy had once expected him to say them, they came upon
her now with a dreadful shock, making her view herself as the murderer
of her child, and thus blunting the pain she might otherwise have felt
as he went on to speak of Silverton and its inhabitants, just as he
would not have spoken had he known she was so near. Then, encouraged by
his mother, he talked again of her, not against her, but in a way which
made her poor aching heart throb as she whispered, sadly: "He is
disappointed in me. I do not come up to all that he expected. I do very
well, considering my low origin, but I am not what his wife should be."

Wilford had not said all this, but Katy inferred it, and every nerve
quivered with anguish as the wild wish came over her that she had died
on that day when she sat in the summer grass at home watching the
shadows come and go and waiting for Wilford Cameron. Poor Katy! she
thought her cup of sorrow full, when, alas! only a drop had as yet been
poured into it. But it was filling fast, and Mrs. Cameron's words: "It
might have been better with Genevra," was the first outpouring of the
overwhelming torrent which for a moment bore her life and sense away.
She thought they meant her baby--the little Genevra sleeping under the
snow in Silverton--and her white lips answered: "Yes, it would be
better," before Wilford's voice was heard, saying, as he always said:
"No, I have never wished Genevra in Katy's place, though I have
sometimes wondered what the result would have been had I learned
in season how much I wronged her."

Was heaven and earth coming together, or what made Katy's brain so dizzy
and the room so dark, as, with head bent forward and lips apart, she
strained her ear to catch every word of the conversation which followed,
and in which she saw glimpses of that leaf offered her once to read, and
from which she had promised not to shrink should it ever be thrust upon
her? But she did shrink, oh! so shudderingly, holding up her hands and
striking them through the empty air as if she would thrust aside the
terrible scepter risen so suddenly before her. She had heard all that
she cared to hear then. Another word and she should surely die where she
was, within hearing of the voices still talking of Genevra. Stopping her
ears to shut out the dreadful sound, she tried to think what she should
do. To gain the door and reach the street was her desire, and throwing
on her wrappings she went noiselessly into the hall, and carefully
turning the lock closed the door behind her, finding herself alone in
the street in the dusk of a November night. But Katy was not afraid, and
drawing her hood closely over her face she sped on until her own house
was reached, alarming Esther with her frightened face, but explaining
that she had been taken suddenly ill and returned before dinner.

"Mr. Cameron will be here soon," she said. "I do not need anything
to-night, so you can leave me alone and go where you like--to the
theatre, if you choose. I heard you say you wished to go. Here is the
money for you and Phillips," and handing a bill to the slightly puzzled
Esther, she dismissed her from the room.

Meanwhile, at the elder Cameron's, no one had a suspicion of Katy's
recent presence, for the girl who had admitted her had gone to visit a
sick sister, with whom she was to spend the night. Thus Katy's secret
was safe, and Wilford, when at last he bade his mother good-by and
started for home, was not prepared for the livid face, the bloodshot
eyes, and the strange, unnatural look which met him at the threshold.

Katy was waiting for him, and answered his ring herself, her hands
grasping his almost fiercely and dragging him up the stairs to her own
room, where, more like a maniac than Katy Cameron, she confronted him
with the startling question:

"Who is Genevra Lambert? It is time I knew before committing greater
sin. Tell me, Wilford, who is she?"

She was standing before him, her slight figure seeming to expand into a
greater height, the features glowing with strong excitement, and her hot
breath coming hurriedly through her dilated nostrils, but never opening
the pale lips set so firmly together. There was something terrible in
her look and attitude, and it startled Wilford, who recoiled a moment
from her, scarcely able to recognize the Katy hitherto so gentle and
quiet. She had learned his secret, but the facts must have been
distorted, he knew, or she had never been so agitated. From beneath his
hair the great sweat drops came pouring, as he tried to approach her and
take the uplifted hands, motioning him aside with the words: "Not touch
me; no, not touch me till you have told me who is Genevra Lambert."

She repeated the question twice, and rallying all his strength Wilford
answered her at last: "Genevra Lambert was my wife!"

"I thought so," and the next moment Katy lay in Wilford's arms, dead, as
he feared, for there was no motion about the eyelids, no motion that he
could perceive about the pulse or heart, as he laid the rigid form upon
the bed and then bent every energy to restore her, even though he feared
that it was hopeless.

"I must do what I can," he said, thinking once to send for a physician
and laying his hand upon the bell rope for the purpose of ringing up a
servant; but a faint, gasping sound met his ear, assuring him there yet
was life and that Katy was not dead.

If possible he would prefer that no one should intrude upon them now,
and he chafed her icy hands and bathed her face until the eyes unclosed
again, but with a shudder turned away as they met his. Then as she grew
stronger and remembered the past she started up, exclaiming: "If Genevra
Lambert is your wife, what then am I? Oh, Wilford, how could you make me
not a wife, when I trusted and loved you so much?"

He knew now that she was laboring under a mistake, and he did not wonder
at the violence of her emotions if she believed he had wronged her so
cruelly, and coming nearer to her he said: "You mistake me; Genevra
Lambert was my wife once, but is not now, for she is dead. Do you hear
me, Katy? Genevra died years ago, when you were a little girl playing in
the fields at home."

By mentioning Silverton he hoped to bring back something of her olden
look, in place of the expression which troubled and frightened him. The
experiment was successful and great tears gathered in Katy's eyes,
washing out the wild, unnatural gleam, while the lips whispered: "And it
was her picture Juno saw. She told me the night I came and I tried to
question you. You remember?"

Wilford did remember it and he replied: "Yes, but I did not suppose you
knew I had a picture. You have been a good wife, Katy, never to mention
it since then;" and he tried to kiss her forehead, but she covered it
with her hands, saying, sadly: "Not yet, Wilford, I cannot bear it now.
I must know the whole about Genevra. Why didn't you tell me before? Why
have you deceived me so?"

"Katy," and Wilford grew very earnest in his attempts to defend himself,
"do you remember that day we sat under the buttonwood tree and you
promised to be mine? Try and recall the incidents of that hour and see
if I did not hint at some things past which I wished had been
otherwise--did not offer to show you the blackest page of my whole life
and you would not see it. Was that so, Katy?"

"Yes," she answered, and he continued: "You said you were satisfied
to take me as I was. You would not hear evil against me and so I
acquiesced, bidding you not shrink back if ever the time should come
when you must read that page. I was to blame, I know, but there were
many extenuating circumstances, much to excuse me for withholding what
you would not hear."

Wilford did not like to be censured, neither did he like to censure
himself, and now that Katy was out of danger and comparatively calm, he
began to build about himself a fortress of excuses for having kept from
her the secret of his life.

"Would not most any man have done just as I did?" he continued. "Can you
mention one who would not?"

"Yes, Cousin Morris," Katy answered; "he would never have deceived me
thus."

A little vexed at the mention of Dr. Grant, Wilford replied: "I do not
pretend to be a saint, and I believe your cousin does; but I doubt
whether even he, with all his goodness, would do very differently from
what I have done; but tell me how, where did you hear of Genevra?"

Amid sobs and tears Katy told him how she had repented of her decision
not to join him at his mother's, coming to the conclusion that she was
doing wrong to seclude herself so much and trying her best to look well
again in his eyes.

"I meant to surprise you," she said, "and when I heard your mother was
out I went into the library to wait, thinking you would come there, but
you did not, and I started to go to you when my feet were stopped, for
you were talking of me, Wilford, not bad, perhaps, but as you would not
have talked had you known that I was there where I heard the words which
burned like coals of fire, so that I could have screamed in my
distress."

Katy was not weeping now and her face was like that of some accusing
angel as she continued: "I thought my heart was broken when I heard you
talk so of me and Silverton, but that was nothing compared with what
came next, when your mother spoke of Genevra. I thought it was my baby
she meant at first, and the tightness around my heart was giving way,
for if you did complain of me to your mother, I could forgive that
because you were baby's father; but Genevra Lambert! oh, Wilford, I died
a thousand deaths in one when I first heard of her and understood why
you objected to the name our baby finally bore. You did not wish to be
so constantly reminded of the other wife. I could not sit there longer,
the room around me grew so black, so I struggled to my feet and reached
the door, going into the street and thinking once I would end my
wretched life in the distant river; but something turned my steps toward
home and I came, thinking it all over and suffering such agony. Oh,
Wilford, why did you keep it from me? What was there about it wrong and
where is she buried?"

"In Alnwick, at St. Mary's," Wilford answered, determining now to hold
nothing back, and by his abruptness wounding Katy afresh.

"In Alnwick, at St. Mary's" Katy cried. "Then I have seen her grave, and
that is why you were so anxious to get there, so unwilling to go away.
Oh, if I were lying there instead of Genevra, it would be so much
better, so much better."

There was sobbing now, in a moaning, plaintive way which touched Wilford
tenderly, and smoothing her tangled hair, he said: "I would not exchange
my Katy for all the Genevras in the world. She was never as dear to me
as you. I was but a boy, and did not know my mind when I met her. Shall
I tell you about her now? Can you bear to hear the story of Genevra?"

There was a nod of assent, and Katy turned her face to the wall,
clasping her hands tightly together, while Wilford drew his chair to her
side and began to read the page he should have read to her long before.



CHAPTER XXXV.

WHAT THE PAGE DISCLOSED.


"I was little more than nineteen years of age when I left Harvard
College and went abroad with my only brother, the John or Jack of whom
you have so often heard. Both himself and wife were in delicate health,
and it was hoped a voyage across the sea would do them good. For nearly
a year we were in various parts of England, stopping for two months at
Brighton, where, among the visitors, was a widow from the vicinity of
Alnwick, and with her an orphan niece whom I often met, and whose
dazzling beauty attracted my youthful fancy. She was not happy with her
aunt, upon whom she was wholly dependent, and my sympathies were all
enlisted, when, with the tears shining in her lustrous eyes, she one day
accidentally stumbled upon her trouble and told me how wretched she was,
asking if in America there was not something for her to do.

"It was at this time that Jamie was born and Mary, the girl who went out
with us, was married to an Englishman, making it necessary for Hatty to
find some one to take her place. Hearing of this, Genevra came one day,
and to my secret delight offered herself as half companion, half
waiting-maid to Hatty. Anything was preferable to the life she led, she
said, pleading so hard that Hatty, after an interview with the old
aunt--a purse-proud, vulgar woman, who seemed glad to be rid of her
charge--consented to receive her, and Genevra became one of our family,
an equal rather than a menial, whom Hatty treated with as much
consideration as if she had been a sister. I wish I could tell you how
beautiful Genevra Lambert was at that period of her life. I have her
picture, which I will show you by and by, but it will not convey an
adequate idea of her as she was then, with her brilliant English
complexion, her eyes so full of poetry and passion, her perfect
features, and, more than all, the wondrous smile, which would have made
a plain face handsome. She was full of life and spirits, with enough of
coquetry about her to fascinate and turn older heads than mine.

"Of course I came to love her, and loved her all the more for the
opposition I knew my family would throw in the way of my marrying the
daughter of an English apothecary, and one who was voluntarily filling a
servant's place. But with my mother across the sea, I could do anything;
and when Genevra told me of a base fellow, as she termed him, who, since
she was a child, had sought her for his wife, and still pursued her with
his letters, my passions all were roused, and I offered myself at once.
I do not think she anticipated this when she told me of the letters, as
it might seem to you. She was neither designing nor artful, but, on the
contrary, wholly open-hearted and truthful, telling me the contents of
the letter because I found her weeping over it and insisted upon knowing
the cause. Her answer to my offer was a decided refusal. She knew her
position, she said, and she knew mine, just as she knew the nature of
the feeling which prompted me to act thus toward her. Although just my
age, she was older in judgment and experience, and she seemed to
understand the difference between our relative positions. I was not
indifferent to her, she said, and were she my equal her answer might be
otherwise than the decided no.

"Of course this only made me more eager, particularly as during the next
two weeks she avoided me as much as possible, never stopping alone with
me for a moment or giving me a chance to say a word in private. Madly in
love, and fancying I could not live without her, I besieged her with
letters, some of which she returned unopened, while on the others she
wrote a few hurried lines, calling me a boy, who did not know my own
mind, and asking what my friends would say.

"I cared little for friends, urging my suit the more vehemently, as we
were about going into Scotland, where our marriage could be celebrated
in private at any time. I say in private, for I did not contemplate
making the affair public at once. That would take from the interest and
romance, while, unknown to myself, there was at heart a fear of my
family.

"But not to dwell too long upon those days, which seem to me now so like
a dream, we went to Scotland and were married privately, for I won her
to this at last. And now comes the part where Jamie is concerned. On the
night of our marriage, Genevra, who had obtained permission to be absent
on a plea of visiting a friend, had procured some one to take charge of
Jamie, a red-faced girl from Edinburgh, who, unused to children, perched
the child upon her shoulder, and while in this condition let him fall,
injuring his spine and making him a cripple for life. Genevra never
forgave herself for that sad accident, which would not have happened had
she remained at her post, while to me Jamie has ever since been a sacred
thing, his helplessness which he bears so meekly a constant reproach,
reminding me of what I would had never been."

"Then you are sorry you married Genevra?" Katy exclaimed, turning partly
toward him, and giving the first token she as yet had given that she was
listening to the story.

Sometimes Wilford was sorry and sometimes he was not, for there was a
world of pleasurable excitement connected with those months of secrecy,
those private interviews, those stolen kisses, and little acts of
endearment, which so intoxicated and bewildered him that the talking of
them now brought something of the olden thrill he had experienced, when
for a moment he held Genevra's hand in his or wound his arm around her
waist, knowing he had a perfect right to do so. But it was better not to
confess this to Katy, and so he evaded the question, and continued:

"My brother's failing health, as well as Hatty's, prevented them from
suspecting what was going on, and when at last we went to Italy they had
no idea that Genevra was my wife. At Rome her beautiful face attracted
much attention from tourists and residents, among whom were a few young
men, who, looking upon her as Jamie's nurse, or at most a companion for
his mother, made no attempt to disguise their admiration. For this I had
no redress except in an open avowal of the relation in which I stood to
her, and this I could not then do, for the longer it was deferred the
harder I found it to acknowledge her my wife. I loved her devotedly, and
that perhaps was one great cause of the jealousy which began to spring
up and embitter my life.

"I do not believe that Genevra was at heart a coquette. She was very
fond of admiration, but when she saw how much I was disturbed she
made an effort to avoid those who flattered her, but her manner was
unfortunate, while her voice--the sweetest I ever heard--was calculated
to invite rather than repel attention. As the empress of the world, she
would have won and kept the homage of mankind, from the humblest beggar
in the street to the king upon the throne, and had I been older I should
have been proud of what then was my greatest annoyance. But I was
young--a mere boy--and so I watched her jealously, until a new element
of disquiet was presented to me in the shape of a ruffianly looking
fellow, who was frequently seen about the premises, and with whom I once
found Genevra in close converse, starting and blushing guiltily when I
came upon her, while her companion went swiftly from my sight.

"'It was an old English acquaintance, who was poor and asking charity,'
she said, when questioned, but her manner led me to think there was
something wrong, particularly as I saw her with him again, and thought
she held his hand.

"It was evident that my brother would never see America again, and at
his request my mother came to us, in company with a family from Boston,
reaching us two weeks before he died. From the first, she disliked
Genevra, suspecting the liking between us, but never dreaming of the
truth until a week after Jack's death, when in a fit of anger at Genevra
for listening to an English artist, who had asked to paint her picture,
the story of the marriage came out, and like a child dependent on its
mother for advice, I asked, 'What shall I do?'

"You know mother, Katy--that is, you know her pride--and can in part
understand how she would scorn a girl who, though born to better things,
was still found in the capacity of a waiting maid. I never saw her so
moved as she was for a time, after learning that her only living son,
from whom she expected so much, had thrown himself away, as she
expressed it. Sister Hatty, who loved Genevra, did all she could to heal
the growing difference between us, but I trusted mother most. I believed
that what she said was right, and so matters grew worse, until one
night, the last we spent in Rome, I missed Genevra from our rooms, and
starting in quest of her, found her in a little flower garden back of
our dwelling. There, under the deep shadow of a tree, and partly
concealed from view, she stood with her arm around the neck of the same
rough-looking man who had been there before. She did not see me as I
stood and watched her while she parted with him, suffering him to kiss
her hand and forehead as he said, 'Good-by, my darling.'

"In a tremor of anger and excitement I quitted the spot, my mind wholly
made up with regard to my future. That there was something wrong about
Genevra I did not doubt, and I would not give her a chance to explain by
telling her what I had seen, but sent her back to England, giving her
ample means for defraying the expenses of her journey and for living in
comfort after her arrival there. From Rome we went to Naples, and then
to Switzerland, where Hatty died, leaving us alone with little Jamie. It
was here at Berne that I received an anonymous letter from England, the
writer stating that Genevra was with her aunt, that the whole had ended
as he thought it would, that he could readily guess at the nature of the
trouble, and hinting that if a divorce was desirable on my return to
England, all necessary proof could be obtained by applying to such a
number in London, the writer announcing himself a brother of the man who
had once sought Genevra, and saying he had always opposed the match,
knowing Genevra's family.

"This was the first time the idea of a divorce had entered my mind.
Instead of that the hope that Genevra might in some way be restored to
me unspotted, had unconsciously been the daystar of my existence, and I
shrank from a final separation. But mother felt differently. It was not
a new thought to her, knowing as she did that the validity of a Scotch
marriage, such as ours, was frequently contested in the English courts.
Once free from Genevra the world this side the water would never know of
that mistake, and she set herself steadily to accomplish her purpose. To
tell you all that followed our return to England and the steps by which
I was brought to sue for a divorce would make my story too long, and so
I will only state that, chiefly by the testimony of the anonymous letter
writer, whose acquaintance we made, a divorce was at last obtained,
Genevra putting in no defense, but as I heard afterward, settling down
to an apathy from which nothing had power to rouse her until the news of
her freedom from me was carried to her, when, amid a paroxysm of tears
and sobs she wrote me a few lines, assuring me of her innocence,
refusing to send back her wedding ring, and saying God would not forgive
me for the great wrong I had done her. I saw her once after that by
appointment and her face haunted me for years. Indeed, I sometimes see
it in my dreams as it confronted me then, with a look which I now know
was a look of deeply injured innocence, for, Katy, Genevra was innocent,
as I found after the time was past when reparation could be made."

Wilford's voice trembled now, and for a moment there was silence in the
room while he composed himself to go on with the story:

"She would not live with me again if she could, she said, denouncing
bitterly the Cameron pride and saying she was happier to be free. I
remember I tried to excuse myself, remember saying that if there had
been children or a child I should have paused before taking the decisive
step, and there we parted, but not until she had told me that her
traducer was the old discarded suitor who had sworn to have revenge, and
who, since the divorce, had dared seek her again. A vague suspicion of
this had crossed my mind once before, but the die was cast, and even if
the man were false, what I saw myself in Rome still stood against her
and so my conscience was quieted, while mother was more than glad to be
rid of a daughter-in-law of whose family I knew nothing. Rumors I did
hear of a cousin whose character was not the best, and of the father
who for some crime had fled the country, dying in a foreign land, but as
that was nothing to me now, I passed it by, feeling it was best to be
relieved from one of so doubtful antecedents.

"In the spring of 185- we came back to New York, where no one had ever
heard of the affair, so quietly and well had it been managed. I was a
young man still, no one except my mother sharing in the secret. With her
I often talked of Genevra, wishing sometimes that I could hear from her,
a wish which was finally gratified. One day I received a note requesting
an interview at a downtown hotel, the writer signing himself as Thomas
Lambert, and adding that I need have no fears as he came to perform an
act of justice, not of retribution. Three hours later I was locked in a
room with Genevra's father, the same man whom I had seen in Rome.
Detected in forgery years before, he had fled from England and had
hidden himself in Rome, where he accidentally met his daughter, and so
that stain was removed. He had heard of the divorce by a letter which
Genevra managed to send him, and braving all difficulties and dangers he
had come back to England and found his child, hearing from her the story
of her wrongs, and as well as he was able setting himself to discover
the author of the calumny. He was not long in tracing it to Le Roy, whom
he found in a dying condition, and who with his last breath confessed
the falsehood which was imposed upon me, he said, partly from motives of
revenge and partly with a hope that free from me Genevra would at the
last turn to him. As proof that Mr. Lambert told me the truth, he
brought the dying man's confession, written in a cramped, trembling
hand, which I recognized at once. The confession ended with the solemn
assertion: 'For aught I know or believe, Genevra Lambert is as pure and
true as any woman living.'

"I cannot describe the effect this had upon me. I did not love Genevra
then. I had outlived that affection, but I felt remorse and pity for
having wronged her so, and asked how I could make amends.

"'You cannot,' the old man said, 'except in one way, and that she does
not desire. I did not come here with any wish for you to take her for
your wife again. It was an unequal match which never should have been;
but if you believe her innocent, she will be satisfied. She wanted you
to know it, I wanted you to know it, and so I crossed the sea to find
you.'

"I sent a letter by him assuring her she stood acquitted in my mind of
all I had suspected her, and asked her pardon for the great wrong I had
done her. The next I heard of her was in the columns of an English
newspaper, which told me she was dead, while in another place a pencil
mark was lightly turned around a paragraph, which said that 'a forger,
Thomas Lambert, who escaped years ago and was supposed to be dead, had
recently reappeared in England, where he was recognized, but not
arrested, for the illness proved fatal.' He was attended, the paper said,
by his daughter, 'a beautiful young girl whose modest mien and gentle
manner had done much toward keeping the officers of justice from her
dying father, no one being able to withstand her pleadings that her
father might die in peace.'

"I was grateful for this tribute, to Genevra, and I felt that it was
deserved; turning again to the notice of her death, which must have
occurred within a short time of her father's, and was probably induced
by past troubles and recent anxiety for him.

"'Genevra Lambert died at Alnwick, aged twenty-two.' There could be no
mistake, and with a tear to the memory of the dead whom I had loved and
injured, I burned the paper, feeling that now there was no clew to the
secret I was as anxious to preserve as was my mother.

"And so the years wore on till I met and married you, withholding from
you that yours was not the first love which had stirred my heart, nor
yours the first head which had slept upon my arm. I meant to tell you,
Katy, but I could not for the great fear of losing you if you knew all.
And then an error concealed so long is hard to be confessed. I took you
across the sea to Brighton, where I first met Genevra, and then to
Alnwick, seeking out the grave which made assurance doubly sure. It was
that one in the far corner of St. Mary's where I went so often and where
once you came, sitting upon the very mound whose headstone bore
Genevra's name. I drew my breath quickly as if the dead were thus
dishonored, but I knew you meant no harm, and as soon as possible I
hurried you away. It was natural that I should make some inquiries
concerning her last days, but lest it should all come out kept me back,
so that I only questioned the old sexton who once was at work nearby.
Calling his attention to the name, I said it was an uncommon one and
asked if he knew the girl.

"'Not by sight, no,' he said. 'She was only here a few days before she
died. I've heard she was very winsome and that there was a scandal of
some kind mixed up with her.'

"I would not ask him any more; and without any wrong to you, my wife, I
confess that my tears dropped upon the turf under which I knew Genevra
lay."

"I am glad they did; I should hate you if you had not cried," Katie
exclaimed, her voice more natural than it had been since the great shock
came, and her own tears falling fast to the memory of Genevra, whose
grave she had sat upon with Wilford standing near.

A buried wife was not so dreadful to contemplate as a wife divorced but
living still, and Katy's heart did not beat with quite so heavy throbs
of fear and shame as it had at first. But it was very sore with the
feeling that to her almost as great a wrong had been done as to Genevra,
for had he not deceived her from the very first, he and his mother, who
had been the terror of Genevra's life as she was the bane of Katy's.

"Do you forgive me, Katy? Do you love me as well as ever?" Wilford
asked, stooping down to kiss her, but Katy drew her face away and did
not answer then.

She did not know herself just how she felt toward him. He did not seem
just like the husband she had trusted in so blindly. It would take a
long time to forget that another head than hers had lain upon his bosom,
and it would take longer yet to blot out the memory of the complaining
words uttered to his mother. She had never thought he could do that,
never dreamed of such a thing, knowing that she would sooner have parted
with her right hand than have complained of him. Her idol had fallen in
more respects than one, and the heart it had bruised in the fall refused
at once to gather the shattered pieces up and call them good as new. She
was not obstinate, she was not sulky, as Wilford began to fancy. She
was only stunned and could not rally at his bidding. He had confessed
the whole, keeping nothing back, and he felt that Katy was unjust not to
acknowledge his magnanimity and restore him to her favor. Again he asked
forgiveness, again bent down to kiss her, but Katy answered: "Not yet,
Wilford, not till I feel all right toward you. A wife's kiss should be
sincere."

"As you like," trembled on Wilford's lips, but he beat back the words
and walked up and down the room, knowing now that his journey must be
deferred till morning, and wondering if Katy would hold out till then.

It was long past midnight, but to retire was impossible, and so for one
whole hour he paced through the room, while Katy lay with her eyes
closed and her lips moving occasionally in the words of prayer she tried
to say, asking God to help her, and praying that she might in future lay
her treasures up where they could not so suddenly be swept away. Wearily
the hours passed, and the gray dawn was stealing into the room when
Wilford again approached his wife and said, "You know I was to have left
home last night on business. As I did not go then, it is necessary that
I leave this morning. Are you able to stay alone for three days or more?
Are you willing?"

"Yes--oh, yes," Katy replied, feeling that to have him gone while she
battled with the pain lying so heavy at her heart would be a great
relief.

Perhaps he suspected this feeling in part, for he bit his lip
impatiently, and without another word called up the servant whose duty
it was to prepare his early breakfast. Cold and cheerless seemed the
dining-room, to which an hour later he repaired, and tasteless was the
breakfast without Katy there to share it. She had been absent many times
before, but never just as now, with this wide gulf between them, and as
he broke his egg and tried to drink his coffee, Wilford felt like one
from whom every support had been swept away, leaving him tottering and
giddy. He did not like the look of Katy's face or the sound of her
voice, and as he thought upon them, self began to whisper again that she
had no right to stand out so long when he had confessed everything, and
by the time his breakfast was finished Wilford Cameron was, in his own
estimation, an abused an injured man, so that it was with an air of
defiance rather than humility that he went again to Katy. She, too, had
been thinking, and as the result of her thoughts she lifted up her head
as he came in and said, "I can kiss you now, Wilford."

It was human nature, we suppose--at least it was Wilford's nature--which
for an instant tempted him to decline the kiss proffered so lovingly;
but Katy's face was more than he could withstand, and when again he left
that room the kiss of pardon was upon his lips and comparative quiet was
in his heart.

"The picture, Wilford--you have forgotten that," Katy called after him,
as he was running down the stairs.

Wilford would rather have been with her when she first looked upon
Genevra, but there was not time for that, and hastily unlocking his
private drawer he carried the case to Katy's room, laying it upon the
bureau and saying to her: "I would not mind it now, until it is fully
light. Try and sleep a while. You need the rest so much."

Katy knew she had the whole day before her in which to investigate the
face of one who once had filled her place, and so she nestled down among
her pillows, and soon fell into a quiet sleep, from which Esther, who
looked in upon her several times, at last awakened her, asking if she
should bring her breakfast to her room.

"Yes, do," Katy replied, adjusting her dress and trying to arrange the
matted curls, which were finally confined in a net until Esther's more
practiced hands were ready to attack them.

And all this while the picture lay upon the bureau--the square,
old-fashioned daguerreotype, which Katy shrank from opening.

"I'll wait till after breakfast," she said; then as the thought came
over her that if the face proved as beautiful as Wilford had described,
she in her present forlorn condition would feel the contrast deeply, she
said, "I'll wait till Esther has fixed my hair; then I will look at
Genevra."

Breakfasting did not occupy her long, and Esther soon was busy with her
toilet, combing out and looping-back her curls, and bringing a plain
dress of rich bombazine, with fresh bands of white crape, as had been
worn the previous day. Katy's toilet was complete at last, and as Esther
closed the door behind her, Katy, with a trembling hand, took from the
drawer, where she had hid it from Esther's eyes, the picture of Genevra
Lambert.



CHAPTER XXXVI.

THE EFFECT.


With a shiver Katy held it a moment in her lap, noticing how old and
worn it looked--noticing, too, the foreign mark upon it, and that one
hinge was broken, wondering if all this wear had come from frequent use.
Had Wilford looked often at that picture?--and if so, what were his
feelings as he looked? Was he sorry that Genevra died? Did he sometimes
wish her there, instead of Katy Lennox, of Barlow origin? Did he
contrast their faces one with the other, giving the preference to
Genevra, or was Katy's liked the best? All these questions Katy asked
herself, while her fingers fluttered about the clasp, which she half
dreaded to unfasten.

Cautiously, very cautiously, at last the lid was opened, and a lock of
soft brown hair fell out, clinging to Katy's hand as if it had been a
living thing, and making her shudder with fear as she shook off the
silken tress and remembered that the head it once adorned was lying in
St. Mary's churchyard, where the English daisies grew.

"She had pretty hair," she thought; "darker, richer than mine," and into
Katy's heart there crept a feeling akin to jealousy, lest Genevra had
been fairer than herself, as well as better loved. "I won't be foolish
any longer," she said, and turning resolutely to the light she opened
the lid again and saw Genevra Lambert, starting quickly, then looking
again more closely--then, with a gasp, panting for breath, while like
lightning flashes the past came rushing over her, as, with her eyes
fixed upon that picture, she tried to whisper, "It is--it is!"

She could not then say whom, for if she were right in her belief,
Genevra was not dead. There were no daisies growing on her grave, for
she still walked the earth a living woman, whom Katy knew so
well--Marian Hazelton. That was the name Katy could not speak, as, with
the blood curdling in her veins and freezing about her heart, she sat
comparing the face she remembered so well with the one before her. In
some points they were unlike, for thirteen years had slightly marred the
youthful contour of the face she knew--had sharpened the features and
thinned the abundant hair; but still there could be no mistake. The
eyes, the brow, the smile, the nose, all were the same, and with a pang
bitterer than she yet had felt, poor Katy fell upon her face and asked
that she might die. In her utter ignorance of law, she fancied that if
Genevra were alive, she had no right to Wilford's name--no right to be
his wife--especially as the sin for which Genevra was divorced had by
her never been committed, and burning tears of bitter shame ran down her
cheeks as she whispered, "'What God hath joined together let no man put
asunder.' Those are God's words, and how dare the world act otherwise?
She is his wife, and I--oh! I don't know what I am!" and on the carpet
where she was kneeling Katy writhed in agony as she tried to think what
she must do. Not stay there--she could not do that now--not, at least,
until she knew for sure that she was Wilford's wife, in spite of
Genevra's living. Maybe she was; there was a Mrs. Grainier in the city
divorced from her first husband and living with her second; but then the
man was a profligate, a most abandoned wretch, who had not been proved
innocent, as Genevra had, and that must make a difference. "Oh, if there
was only some one to advise me--some one who knew and would tell me what
was right," Katy moaned, feeling herself inadequate to meet the dark
hour alone.

But to whom should she go? To Father Cameron? No, nor to his mother.
They might counsel wrong for the sake of secrecy. Would Mark Ray or Mrs.
Banker know? Perhaps; but they were strangers--her trouble must not be
told to them, and then with a great bound her heart turned at last to
Morris. He knew everything. He would not sanction a wrong. He would tell
her just what was right, and she could trust him fully in everything.
There was no other person whom she could believe just as she could him.
Uncle Ephraim was equally as good and conscientious, but he did not know
as much as Morris--he did not understand everything. Morris was her
refuge, and to him she would go that very day, leaving a note for
Wilford in case she never came back, as possibly she might not. And
then, like an imprisoned bird, which sees its cage door opened at last,
but dreads the freedom offered, Katy drew her bleeding wings close to
her side and shrank from the cold world which lay outside that home of
luxury. But when she remembered that possibly she had no right to stay
there, she grew strong again, and, seizing her pen, dashed off a wild,
impassioned letter, which, if her husband did not find her there on his
return, would tell him where she was and why she had gone. This she left
in a drawer appropriated to Wilford's use, and where he could not fail
to find it; but the picture she put in her own pocket, not caring to
part with that. Had Marian been in the city she would have gone to her
at once, but Marian was where long rows of cots are ranged against the
hospital walls, each holding a maimed and suffering soldier, to whom she
ministered so tenderly, the brightness of her smile and the beauty of
her face deluding the delirious ones into the belief that the journey of
life for them was ended and heaven reached at last, where an angel in
woman's garb attended upon them. Marian was impossible, and Dr. Grant
was the only alternative left.

Summoning Esther, Katy told her, in as calm a voice as she could
command, that, feeling very lonely, she was going out to spend the day,
and probably the night. At all events the servants were not to expect
her until she came.

"Yes, ma'am--going to Mr. Cameron's, I suppose?" Esther said, and as
Katy made no answer the impression in Esther's mind was that she would
spend the day and night at the elder Cameron's, as she had done once
before when Wilford was away.

And this was the intelligence carried to the servants, who wondered that
their mistress did not order the carriage, but started off on foot, her
face looking ghastly white beneath the folds of her crape veil as she
closed the door behind and looked back at the home she might be leaving
forever. The carriage, she knew, would lead to detection, and as it was
not far to the New Haven depot, she kept on her way until the train was
reached, and she in a seat by herself was looking with eyes which could
not weep over the city she was so fast leaving behind. Had she for one
moment suspected Morris's love, all her womanly instincts would have
kept her from seeking him then, but she had no such suspicion. Morris
was her elder brother, and like a stricken sister she was going to him
with her grief, sure of sympathy and sure of counsel for the right.

The afternoon was cold and stormy, so that it was late in the evening
when the long train reached West Silverton, where Katy was to stop.
Owing to the storm but few were at the depot, and among them none who
recognized Katy Cameron beneath the heavy veil she kept so closely over
her face, even while asking for a conveyance out to Linwood. It was a
comparative boy who volunteered his services, and as he had recently
come to Silverton he knew nothing of Katy or of Dr. Grant, so that she
was saved from all embarrassment upon that point; her driver never
addressing her except to ask the way, which was not wholly familiar to
him.

"Turn here. Yes, that is right," she said, when they reached the road
which led to Linwood, and a feeling like guilt crept over her as through
the leafless trees and across the meadow land she spied the farmhouse
light shining through the drifting snow as if beckoning her to come.
"Not yet--not now. I must see Morris first," she answered mentally to
that silent invitation, and drawing the buffalo skin around her with a
shiver. She did not look again toward the farmhouse, but onward to where
the lights of Linwood shone through the wintry darkness. "This is the
place," she said, and in a moment she stood upon the broad stone steps,
shaking the snow from her cloak, while the boy waited a moment, hoping
to be invited to share the warmth he felt there was within that handsome
building.

Katy would rather he should not stop, but when she saw how cold he was
she began to relent, and telling him where to shelter his horse, pointed
to the basement bidding him go in there. Then, with a hesitating step
on she began to wonder what Morris would say, she crossed the wide
piazza and softly turning the door knob, stood in the hall at Linwood.



CHAPTER XXXVII.

THE INTERVIEW.


Dr. Morris was very tired, for his labors that day had been unusually
severe, and it was with a feeling of comfort and relief that he had
turned his steps homeward just as the night was closing in, finding a
bright fire waiting for him in the library, where his supper was soon
brought by the housekeeper, Mrs. Hull, the other servants having gone to
an adjoining town to attend the wedding party of a former associate. It
was very pleasant in that cozy library of oak and green, with the bright
fire on the hearth, the heavy curtains shutting out all traces of the
storm, and the smoking supper set so temptingly before him. And Morris
felt the comfort of his home, thanking the God who had given him all
this, and chiding his wayward heart that it had ever dared to repine. He
was not repining to-night; he had not repined for many a day, though he
never sat down at home after his day's labor in slippers and
dressing-gown, with a new book beside him on the table, that there was
not a sense of something wanting, a glancing at the empty chair across
the hearth, a thought perhaps of Katy, who could squeeze the whole of
her slight form into that chair. But he was not thinking of her now, as
with his hands crossed upon his head he sat looking into the fire and
watching the bits of glowing anthracite dropping into the pan. He was
thinking of the sickbed which he had visited last, and how a faith in
Jesus can make the humblest room like the gate of heaven; thinking how
the woman's eyes had sparkled when she told him of the other world,
where she would never know pain, or hunger, or cold again, and how
quickly their luster was dimmed when she spoke of her absent husband,
the soldier to whom the news of her death with the child he had never
seen would be a crushing blow.

"They who have neither wife nor child are the happier perhaps," he said,
and then the thought of Katy and her great sorrow when baby died,
wondering if to spare herself that pain she would rather baby had never
been. "No--oh, no," he answered to his own inquiry. "She would not lose
the memory which comes from that little grave for all the world
contains. It is better once to love and lose than not to love at all. In
heaven we shall see and know why these things were permitted, and marvel
at the poor human nature which rebelled against them."

Just at this point of his soliloquy the door opened, so softly that he
did not hear it turn upon its hinges, nor hear the light footstep on the
carpet as Katy came in. But when she coughed he started up in wonder at
the apparition standing so still before him.

"Morris, oh, Morris," Katy cried, throwing back her veil and revealing a
face which Morris could not believe was hers for the lines of suffering
and distress stamped so legibly upon it.

But it was Katy, as the voice implied, and, seizing her cold hands,
Morris asked: "Katy, why are you here to-night, and why are you alone?
Has anything happened? Tell me! your looks frighten me!"

"I am so wretched--so full of pain. I have heard of something dreadful,"
she replied--"something which took my life away. I could not stay there
after that, and so I come to you. I am not Wilford's wife, for he had
another, before me--a wife in Italy--who is not dead! And I--oh! Morris,
what am I? Untie my bonnet, do! It is choking me to death! I am--yes--I
am--going--to faint!"

It was the first time Katy had put the great horror in words addressed
to another, and the act of doing so made it more appalling, while the
excitement and fatigue she had endured, together with the action of the
heat upon her chilled system, took her strength away, and into the chair
where Morris had so often seen her in fancy, she sank a crumpled heap of
cloaks and furs and bonnet, which Morris tried to remove so as to reach
the limp, fainting creature which had said: "I am not Wilford's wife,
for he had another before me--a wife in Italy--who is not dead."

Dr. Morris was thoroughly a man, and though much of his sinful nature
had been subdued, there was enough left to make his heart rise and fall
with great throbs of joy as he thought of Katy free, even though that
freedom were bought at the expense of dire disgrace to others and of
misery to her. But only for a moment did he feel thus, only till the
bonnet was removed and the gaslight fell upon the pallid face with the
dark rings beneath the eyes, and the faint, quivering motion around the
lips, which told that she was not wholly unconscious.

"My poor little wounded bird," he said, as pityingly as if he had been
her father, while, much as a father might kiss his suffering child, he
kissed the forehead and the eyelids where the tears began to gather.

Katy was not insensible, and the name by which he called her, with the
kisses that he gave, thawed the ice around her heart and brought a flood
of tears which Morris wiped away, removing her heavy fur and lifting her
gently up, while he took away the cloak and left her unencumbered. With
a sigh she sank back into the chair, and, leaning her head upon its
cushioned arm, moaned like a weary child.

"It is so pleasant to be here, and it rests me so. I wish I might never
go away. May I stay here, Morris, as your housekeeper, instead of Mrs.
Hull?--that is, if I am not his wife. The world might despise me, but
you would know I was not to blame. I should go nowhere but to the
farmhouse, to church, and baby's grave. Poor baby! I am glad God gave
her to me, even if I am not Wilford's wife; and I am glad now that she
died."

She was talking to herself rather than to Morris, who, smoothing back
her hair and chafing her cold hands, said:

"My poor child, you have passed through some agitating scene. Are you
able now to tell me all about it, and what you mean by another wife?"

He saw she was greatly exhausted, and he brought her a glass of wine,
hoping she would rally. She had no supper, she said, except a cracker
bought in Springfield, but the moment he turned to the bellrope she
begged him not to ring. She was not hungry--she could not eat. She
should never eat again.

Wishing himself to know something definite ere going to Mrs. Hull,
Morris yielded to her entreaties, and sitting down in front of her, said
again: "Now tell me what brought you here without your husband's
knowledge."

There was a shiver, and the white lips grew still whiter as Katy began
her story, going back to St. Mary's churchyard, and then coming to her
first night in New York, when Juno had told her of a picture and asked
her whose it was. Then she told of Wilford's admission of an earlier
love, who, he said, was dead; of the trouble about the baby's name, and
his aversion to Genevra; of his frequent abstracted moods, which she
remembered now, never suspecting at the time their cause, and not
knowing now for certain that Genevra was the subject of his thoughts.
But it was safe to believe almost anything of one who had deceived her
so cruelly, and Katy's blue eyes flashed resentfully as she uttered the
first bitter words she had ever breathed against her husband. But when
she approached the dinner at the elder Cameron's, her lip quivered in a
grieved kind of way as she remembered what Wilford had said of her to
his mother, but she would not tell this to Morris, it was not necessary
to her story, and so she said: "They were talking of what I ought never
to have heard, and it seemed as if the walls were closing me in so that
I could not move to let them know I was there. I said to myself, 'I
shall go mad after this,' and I thought of you all coming to see me in
the madhouse, your kind face, Morris, coming up distinctly before me,
just as it would look at me if I were really crazed. But all this was
swept away like a hurricane when I heard the rest, the part about
Genevra, Wilford's other wife."

Katy was panting for breath and Morris brought the wine again, after
which she went on with the story, which made Morris clinch his hands as
he comprehended the deceit which had been practiced so long. Of course
he did not look at it as Katy did, for he knew that according to all
civil law she was as really Wilford's wife as if no other had existed,
and he told her so, but Katy shook her head: "He can't have two wives
living, and I tell you I knew the picture--Genevra is not dead. I have
seen her; I have talked with her--Genevra is not dead."

"Granted that she is not," Morris answered, "the divorce remains the
same."

"I do not believe in divorces. 'Whom God hath joined together let no man
put asunder,'" Katy said with an air which implied that from this
argument there could be no appeal.

"That is the Scripture I know," Morris replied, "but you must remember
that for one sin our Savior permitted a man to put away his wife, thus
making it perfectly right."

"But in Genevra's case the sin did not exist. She was as innocent as I
am, and that must make a difference."

She was very earnest in her attempts to prove that Genevra was still a
lawful wife, so earnest that a dark suspicion entered Morris's mind,
finding vent in the question, "Katy, don't you love your husband, that
you try so hard to prove he is not yours?"

There were red spots all over Katy's face and neck as she saw the
meaning put upon her actions, and covering her face with her hands she
sobbed violently as she replied: "I do, oh, yes, I do. I never loved any
one else. I would have died for him once. Maybe I would die for him now;
but, Morris, I fear he is disappointed in me. Our tastes are not alike,
and we made a great mistake, or Wilford did when he took me for his
wife. I was better suited to most anybody else, and I have been so
wicked since, forgetting all the good I ever knew, forgetting prayer
save as I went through the form from old habit's sake, forgetting God,
who has overtaken me at last and punished me so sorely that every nerve
smarts with the stinging blows."

Oh, how lovingly, how earnestly Morris talked to Katy then, telling her
of Him who smites but to heal, who chastens not in anger, but who would
lead the lost one back into the quiet fold where there was perfect
peace.

And Katy, listening eagerly, with her great blue eyes fixed upon his
face, felt that to be like him, to experience that of which he talked,
was worth more than all the world beside. Gradually; too, there stole
over her the rest she always felt with him--the indescribable feeling
which prompted her to care for nothing except to do just what he bade
her do, knowing it was right. So when he said at last, "You must go back
to New York; this is no place for you," she offered no remonstrance; but
when he continued, "And you must go to-night; that is, you must take the
early morning train, so as to reach the city before any one has had a
chance to read the letter," she demurred at once. "She must see mother;
she must see Helen; she must tell Helen who Genevra was. She wanted her
to know it, but no one else. She must visit baby's grave; she could not
go back without it."

"Not if it is right?" Morris asked, and Katy began to waver when he told
her how much better it would be for her family not to know of this visit
to him, as it would trouble them. She could tell Wilford, if she liked,
but he must not be permitted to find the letter, as he would if he
returned while she was gone. "I will go with you. It is not safe for you
to go alone," he continued, feeling her rapid pulse and noticing the
alternate flushing and paling of her cheek.

A fever was coming on, he feared, and it must not be there with him, for
more reasons than one. She must return to New York, or, failing to do
that, he must take her across the fields to the farmhouse before the
coming dawn.

"Are you sick, Katy?" he asked, as she appeared to be growing stupid.

"Not sick, no; only so tired, so sleepy," and the heavy lids closed over
the dull eyes, while Katy's head still lay upon the cushioned arm of the
large chair.

Her position was not an easy one, and wheeling the lounge to the fire
Morris brought a pillow from his sleeping room adjoining, and taking
Katy in his arms laid her where she would at least be more comfortable
than in the chair. Wrapping his shawl about her and turning down the gas
so as to shield her eyes, he left her alone, while he went to Mrs. Hull,
puzzling her brain to know who the lady was, brought there that stormy
night, and talking so long and earnestly with the doctor. The driver boy
was gone, and thinking it possible that their visitor might be wanting
supper, the thoughtful woman had put the kettle on the stove, where it
was sending forth volumes of steam just as Morris appeared. If he went
to New York with Katy he must trust Mrs. Hull with his reasons for
going, and as from past experience he believed she could be trusted, he
frankly told her that Mrs. Wilford Cameron was in the library; that
circumstances rendered it desirable for her to return to New York as
soon as possible; that as she could not go alone he must of course go
with her, and he expected Mrs. Hull not only to help him off, but also
to keep the fact of Katy's having been there a secret from every one.

"Some trouble with that high-headed husband of hers; I always mistrusted
him," was Mrs. Hull's mental conclusion, as she nodded assent to what
Morris had said, asking if he proposed taking the early morning train
which passed at four o'clock, and who did he expect would drive his
cutter back, as the boys would not be home before broad daylight.

Here was a dilemma of which Morris had not thought, but Mrs. Hull's
woman's wits came to his aid, suggesting that he "leave his horse at the
tavern in West Silverton and she would send John after it as soon as he
returned."

This arranged, Mrs. Hull next asked if Katy would not have some supper
before her long ride.

"A cup of tea and a slice of toast was all she would require," Morris
said, and he felt many doubts about her touching that.

She was sleeping when he returned to her, but when the tea was ready,
she roused up enough to say she did not want it.

"Make her drink it if you ever expect to get her to New York," Mrs. Hull
suggested, alarmed at the redness of Katy's face, and the brightness of
her eyes.

"You must drink it," Morris said. "It will make you stronger for the
ride. We are going very soon, you know--going to New York," and he shook
her shoulder gently as he tried to make her comprehend.

When he said she must, Katy lifted up her head, doing whatever he bade
her do, and seeming more natural for the exertion and the food she took.

"Let me rest now for a little while," she said, and lying back upon her
pillow she slept for an hour, while Morris knelt beside her, counting
her rapid pulse, marking the progress of the fever and praying
earnestly that she might be able to reach New York, and that no serious
consequences would result from his taking her there that night.

To others it might seem a crazy project, but Morris felt that it was
right, and he nerved himself to his part of the toil, harnessing his own
horse and leading him around to the door, where he left him while he
went to get Katy ready. She was not sleeping now, for the powerful
stimulant given just before leaving her had taken effect, and she seemed
a great deal better, fastening her cloak herself and tying her own
bonnet, while Morris put an extra shawl around her, and Mrs. Hull
brought the hot soapstone prepared for her feet. Then, when all was
ready, Morris carried her to the covered sleigh, wrapping robes and furs
around her so that it seemed impossible she should take cold.

The storm had now abated, and the moon shone brightly upon the cold,
frosty snow, as they sped along, Morris' bells tinkling in the clear
cutting air, and occasionally waking some light sleeper, who knew those
musical bells, and said: "That is the doctor," wondering who was sick,
and as they nestled down again in their warm bed, feeling glad that they
were not obliged to be abroad in a wintry night like this. There was no
one at the West Silverton depot except the man who always stayed there,
and he was too nearly asleep to notice whether it was one or twenty
ladies whom Morris accompanied into the sitting-room, going next to
provide for his horse at the hotel nearby.

This done he came back to Katy, staying by her until the early train
came swiftly in, pausing only for a moment, and when next it moved
forward, bearing him and Katy on the strange journey to New York.



CHAPTER XXXVIII.

GETTING HOME.


Springfield was left behind just as the gray daylight came stealing
through the frost-bound windows, rousing the sleepy passengers, and
making Morris pull his wide collar a little closer about his face as if
to avoid observation. He was not afraid of daylight except as it might
disclose some old acquaintance who would perhaps wonder to see him at
that hour between Springfield and Hartford, and wonder more whose was
the head resting so confidentially upon his shoulder, for after the
change at Springfield, Katy, who could no longer keep awake, had leaned
against his arm as readily as if he had been her brother.

A secret of any kind makes its possessor suspicious, and Morris felt
anxious whenever any one glanced that way, but he would not waken Katy,
who slept upon his arm until New York was reached, when with a
frightened, startled feeling, she sat up, and pushing her veil from her
face, looked about her, nodding half unconsciously to Thomas Tubbs, whom
she knew from having seen him in her husband's office, and who since
leaving Hartford had been a passenger on board that train, sitting just
behind Dr. Morris, and wondering when he saw who his companion was, "if
Mrs. Wilford had been to Silverton." Mattie wondered, too, when he told
her, as she poured his half-cold coffee, and then it passed from his
mind, until the following morning when he heard Mark Ray saying to a
client who had asked when Mr. Cameron would probably return:

"If he does not come to-day, we shall telegraph for him, as his wife is
very sick."

Then Tom remembered how white and haggard Katy's face had looked, and
many times that day his mind recurred to Katy Cameron, whom in his
boyish way he had admired as something supernaturally beautiful, and
who, in her own room at home, lay burning with fever, and talking of
Silverton, of Linwood, of baby, of Genevra, and of Wilford.

Morris had seen her safely to her own door, and then thinking she would
do best alone for a time, he left her on the steps, after having rung
the bell and seen that the ring was answered.

It was Esther who met her, expressing much concern at her appearance,
and asking why she did not stay at Father Cameron's instead of coming
home this cold raw day.

Hardly knowing what she did, Katy motioned Esther to her after reaching
her room, and whispered:

"I have not been to Father Cameron's. I had business somewhere else, but
you must not tell. I am in trouble, Esther, or rather, I have been. I
guess it's over now. You are a good girl, and I can trust you. There's
a letter in that drawer, please bring it to me."

Either complied, and Katy held in her hand the letter left for Wilford.
It had not been opened. It must never be opened now, and holding it
until a fire was kindled in the grate, she tossed it into the flames,
watching it as it crispened and blackened upon the glowing coals.

The quick-witted Esther saw that something was wrong, and traced it
readily to Wilford, whose exacting nature she thoroughly understood. She
had not been blind during the two years and a half she had been Katy's
maid, and no impatient word of Wilford's, or frown upon his face, had
escaped her when occurring in her presence, while Katy's uniform
sweetness and entire submission to his will had been noted as well, so
that in Esther's opinion Wilford was a domestic tyrant, and Katy was an
angel. There was no danger then of Esther's repeating anything
forbidden. She had, of course, her own private speculation on the
subject, and when she learned that the tall, handsome man who came
within an hour after Katy's arrival was Dr. Grant, about whom she had
heard both her young mistress and Mrs. Cameron talk so much, her woman's
wits came to her aid again, and to herself she said:

"It's to Silverton Mrs. Cameron went, though how she could get there and
back so soon is a mystery to me, or why she went at all."

Then as she remembered all the circumstances which followed the dinner
for which Katy had dressed with so much care, and the burning of the
letter, a wild conjecture passed through her mind as to the nature of
the trouble which had taken Katy to Silverton in her husband's absence,
leaving a letter for him, and then burning it up when she came back,
accompanied by Dr. Grant. For that he did come with her Esther was sure,
as she saw him on the steps when she answered Katy's ring, and knew the
man who now sat in the parlor waiting for her to take his name to Katy
was the same.

"There is something in the wind," she thought, as she carried Morris'
name to Katy, who did not seem to hear, or if she did, she paid no heed,
but talked of the blinding snow, and the grave in St. Mary's churchyard,
which was no grave at all.

Her manner, more than her looks, frightened the girl, who retreated down
the stairs, meeting Morris in the hall, and saying as she grasped his
arm:

"You are a doctor, Dr. Grant. Come, then, to Mrs. Cameron. She is taken
out of her head, and talks so queer and raving."

Morris had expected this, but he was not prepared to find the fever so
high, or the symptoms so alarming.

"Shall I send for Mrs. Cameron and another doctor, please?" Esther
asked.

Morris had faith in himself, and he would rather no other hand should
minister to Katy; but he knew he could not stay there long, for there
were those at home who needed his services. Added to this, her family
physician might know her constitution now better than he knew it, and so
he answered that it would be well to send for both the doctor and Mrs.
Cameron.

It was growing dark now in the city, and the shadows were stealing into
the room where Morris sat down to wait for other counsel and the arrival
of Mrs. Cameron. To the servants in the kitchen Esther stated, with a
very matter-of-course air, that her mistress had come home, feeling
sick, and that as she seemed getting worse, she was to send to Madam
Cameron, adding that it was a piece of great good luck that Dr. Grant,
from Silverton, who was her cousin, happened to be in the city, and had
called just when he was needed the most.

"He was the doctor whom Jamie talked so much about," she said; "the
doctor whom the family met in Paris," dwelling so long on Dr. Grant and
discussing him so volubly that Phillips and the other servants lost
sight entirely of what had struck them a little oddly, to wit: that Mrs.
Wilford should leave Father Cameron's if she was so very sick.

It was Esther who met Mrs. Cameron in the hall, conducting her into the
parlor and adopting a different style of argument with her from that
used in the basement. "Mrs. Wilford was not well when her husband went
away; but of course he thought nothing of it, neither did
she--Esther--until to-day, when she came in from the street, looking
very badly, and going directly to her bed, where she had been growing
worse ever since."

"Yes," and Mrs. Cameron beat her foot thoughtfully. "I wish I had called
yesterday. I did speak of it, fearing she would be lonely."

"I dare say she was," Esther replied, never changing color in the least,
although somewhat afraid she was being driven to the wall. "She seemed
downcast all the morning, but went about noon. I thought maybe she would
call on you."

"I wish she had," Mrs. Cameron replied, and then Esther told her how
providential it was that a Dr. Grant from Silverton happened to come to
New York that very day. Of course he called upon his cousin, first
sending up his card, and then going himself when told that Mrs. Cameron
was out of her head and did not understand who was waiting to see her.

Completely befogged with regard to a part of the play enacting before
her eyes, Mrs. Cameron exclaimed: "Dr. Grant, of Silverton! I have the
utmost confidence in his skill. Still, it may be well for Dr. Craig to
see her. I think that is his ring."

The city and country physicians agreed exactly with regard to Katy's
illness, or rather the city physician bowed in acquiescence when Morris
said to him that the fever raging so high had perhaps been induced by
natural causes, but was greatly aggravated by some sudden shock to the
nervous system. This was before Mrs. Cameron came up, but it was
repeated in her presence by Dr. Craig, who thus left the impression that
the idea had originated with himself rather than with Dr. Grant, as
perhaps he thought it had. He was at first inclined to patronize the
country doctor, but soon found that he had reckoned without his host.
Morris knew more of Katy and quite as much of medicine as he did
himself, and when Mrs. Cameron begged him to stay longer he answered
that her son's wife was as safe in his brother physician's hands as she
could be in his.

"Indeed, she's safer," he added, "for Dr. Grant can watch her every
moment, and I leave her in his care, calling again of course in the
morning."

Mrs. Cameron was very glad that Dr. Grant was there, she said. It was
surely Providence who sent him to New York on that particular day, and
Morris shivered as he wondered if it were wrong not to explain the whole
to her.

"Perhaps it is best she should not know of Katy's journey to Silverton,"
he thought, and merely bowing to her remarks, he turned to Katy, who was
growing very restless and moaning as if in pain.

"It hurts," she said, turning her head from side to side; "I am lying on
Genevra."

With a sudden start Mrs. Cameron drew nearer, but when she remembered
the little grave at Silverton, she said: "It's the baby she's talking
about."

Morris knew better, and as Katy still continued to move her head as if
something were really hurting her, he passed his hand under her pillow
and drew out the picture which she had held as long as her consciousness
remained. He knew it was Genevra's picture, and was about to lay it away
when the cover dropped from his hand and his eye fell upon a face which
was not new to him, while an involuntary exclamation of surprise broke
from his lips as Katy's assertion that Genevra was living was thus fully
confirmed. Marian had not changed past recognition since her early
girlhood, and Morris knew the likeness at once, pitying Katy more than
he had pitied her yet, as he remembered how closely Marian Hazelton had
been interwoven with her married life and the life of the little child
which had borne her name.

"What is that?" Mrs. Cameron asked, and Morris passed the case to her,
saying: "A picture was under Katy's pillow."

Morris did not look at Mrs. Cameron, but tried to busy himself with the
medicines upon the stand, while she, too, recognized Genevra Lambert,
wondering how it came in Katy's possession, and how much she knew of
Wilford's secret.

"She most have been rummaging," she thought, and then, as she
remembered what Esther had said about her mistress appearing sick and
unhappy when her husband left, she repaired to the parlor and summoning
Esther to her presence, asked her again: "When she first observed traces
of indisposition in Mrs. Cameron."

Considerably flurried and anxious to prove true to Katy, Esther replied,
at random: "When she came home from that dinner at your house. She was
just as pale as death, and her teeth fairly chattered as I took off her
things."

"Dinner? What dinner?" Mrs. Cameron asked, and Esther replied: "Why, the
night Mr. Wilford went away or was to go. She changed her mind about
meeting him at your house and said she meant to surprise him. But she
came home before Mr. Cameron, looking like a ghost and saying she was
sick. It's my opinion something she ate at dinner hurt her."

"Very likely; yes. You can go now," Mrs. Cameron said, and Esther
departed, never dreaming how much light she had inadvertently thrown
upon the mystery.

"She must have been in the library and heard all we said," Mrs. Cameron
thought, as she nervously twisted the fringe of her breakfast shawl. "I
remember we talked of Genevra, and I remember, too, that we both heard a
strange sound from some quarter, but thought it came from the kitchen.
That was Katy. She was there all the time and let herself quietly out of
the house. I wonder does Wilford know," and then there came over her an
intense desire for Wilford to come home, a desire which was not lessened
when she returned to Katy's room and heard her talking of Genevra and
the grave at St. Mary's "where nobody was buried."

In a tremor of distress, lest she should betray something which Morris
must not know, Mrs. Cameron tried to hush her, talking as if it was the
baby she meant, the Genevra who died at Silverton; but Katy answered
promptly: "I'm not to be hoodwinked any longer. It's Genevra Lambert I
mean, Wilford's other wife; the one across the sea, whom you and he
browbeat. She was innocent, too--as innocent as I, whom you both
deceived."

Here was a phase of affairs for which Mrs. Cameron was not prepared,
and excessively mortified that Morris should hear Katy's ravings, she
tried again to quiet her, consoling herself with the reflection that as
Morris was Katy's cousin, he would not repeat what he heard, and feeling
gratified now that Dr. Craig was absent, as she could not be so sure of
him. If Katy's delirium continued, no one must be admitted to the room
except those who could be trusted, and as there had been already several
rings, she said to Esther that as the fever was probably malignant and
contagious, no one must be admitted to the house with the expectation of
seeing the patient, while the servants were advised to stay in their own
quarters, except as their services might be needed elsewhere. And so it
was that by the morrow the news had spread of some infectious disease at
No. ---- on Madison Square, which was shunned as carefully as if the
smallpox itself had been raging there instead of the brain fever, which
increased so fast that Morris suggested to Mrs. Cameron that she
telegraph for Wilford.

"They might find him, and they might not," Mark Ray said, when the
message came down to the office. "They could try, at all events," and in
a few moments the telegraphic wires were carrying the news of Katy's
illness, both to the West, where Wilford had gone, and to the East,
where Helen read with a blanched cheek that Katy perhaps was dying, and
she was needed again.

This was Mrs. Cameron's suggestion, wrung out by the knowing that some
woman besides herself was needed in the sickroom, and by the feeling
that Helen could be trusted with the story of the first marriage, which
Katy talked of constantly, telling it so accurately that only a fool
would fail of being convinced that there was much of truth in those
delirious ravings.



CHAPTER XXXIX.

THE FEVER AND ITS RESULTS.


On every business paper Wilford wrote or signed, and in every object he
met in his journey, one face had been prominent, and that the face of
Katy as it looked in the gray dawn when it lifted itself up to kiss him,
while the white lips tried to speak his pardon. Sometimes Wilford was
very sorry and full of remorse, knowing how Katy was suffering for his
sin; and then, when he remembered her long refusal to pardon him,
notwithstanding that he sued for it so earnestly, his self-importance
was touched, and he felt she had no right to be so obstinate. He did not
deserve it. He was a very kind, indulgent husband, who had raised her
from the humblest position to the very highest, and she ought not to
feel so indignant because he had kept from her an act which, after all,
did not affect her materially. If Genevra was living, and on this side
of the water, he could understand how it might be unpleasant for Katy
and for him, too, knowing, as they both did, that she was innocent of
the charges alleged against her.

"I should not myself like to run the risk of meeting a divorced wife at
any time," he thought; "but Genevra is dead, and Katy ought to be more
reasonable. I did not suppose there was so much spirit in her."

But reason as he might, Wilford could not forget Katy's face, so full of
reproach. It followed him continually, and was the magnet which turned
his steps homeward before his business was quite done, and before the
telegram found him. Thus it was with no knowledge of existing
circumstances that he reached New York just at the close of the day
after Katy's return, and ordering a carriage, was driven rapidly toward
home. All the shutters in the front part of the house were closed and
not a ray of light was to be seen in the parlors as he entered the hall,
where the gas was burning dimly.

"Katy is at home," he said, as he went into the library, where a shawl
was thrown across a chair, as if some one had lately been there.

It was his mother's shawl, and Wilford was wondering if she was there,
when down the stairs came a man's rapid step, and the next moment Dr.
Grant stepped into the room, starting when he saw Wilford, who felt
intuitively that something was wrong.

"Is Katy sick?" was his first question, which Morris answered in the
affirmative, holding him back as he was starting for her room, and
saying to him: "Let me send your mother to you first." What passed
between Wilford and his mother was never known exactly, but at the close
of the interview Mrs. Cameron was very pale, while Wilford's face looked
dark and anxious, as he said: "You think he understands it, then?"

"Yes, in part. Of course he cannot make a very connected story out of
her ravings; but that he believes you had a wife before Katy, I am sure,
just as I am that the world will be none the wiser for his knowledge. I
knew Dr. Grant before you did, and there are few men living whom I
respect as much, and no one whom I would trust as soon."

Mrs. Cameron had paid a high compliment to Morris Grant, and Wilford
bowed in assent, asking next how she managed Dr. Craig.

"That was easy, inasmuch as he believed it an insane freak of Katy's to
have no other physician than her cousin. It was quite natural, he said,
adding that she was as safe with Dr. Grant as any one. So that is
settled, and I was glad, for I could not have a stranger know of that
affair. If I thought it would save her life to retain him, I should feel
differently, of course."

"Yes, certainly," Wilford rejoined, while at his heart there was the
germ of a feeling which, if in the slightest degree encouraged, would
almost have given Katy's life to save his darling self-love and honor in
the eyes of the world.

Few men are as thoroughly selfish as Wilford Cameron, and though he was
very much concerned for Katy, he thought more of preserving a secret
which, if known at this late day, would subject him to much censure and
reproach, than he did of her. So when his mother told him next that
Helen had been sent for, his morbid fears took alarm.

"Why was it necessary to bring another here?" he asked, so indignantly
that tears sprang to his mother's eyes as she pleaded her own weariness
and inability to remain always in the sickroom, and charged him with
ingratitude for all she had done in his behalf.

Wilford could not afford to quarrel with his mother, and he quieted her
as soon as possible, admitting that if she must have an assistant he
would rather it were Helen than Bell or Juno, or even Esther, who, in
spite of the alarm about malignant fever, would willingly have
administered to her young mistress, had she been allowed to do so.

"You will go up now," Mrs. Cameron said to her son, when peace was fully
restored, and a moment after Wilford stood in the dimly-lighted room,
where Katy was talking of going to the hospitals, and of Marian
Hazelton, and was only kept upon her pillow by the strong arm of Morris,
who stood over her when Wilford entered, telling her to "wait until
to-morrow--it would be better then, and she had not seen her husband
yet."

"I have no husband," she replied, her lip curling with scorn, and her
eyes just then falling upon Wilford, who stood appalled at the fearful
change which had passed over her since he left her three days before.

She knew him, and writhing herself away from Morris' arms, she raised up
in bed and said to him:

"I've been at the bottom of things, and Genevra is not in that grave at
St. Mary's. Nobody is there; consequently, she is living, and you are
not my husband. So if you please you can leave the house at once. Morris
will do very well. He will settle the estate, and no bill shall be sent
in for your board and lodging."

In some moods Wilford would have smiled at being thus summarily
dismissed from his own house and assured that no bill should be sent
after him for board and lodging; but he was too sore now, too sensitive
to smile, and his voice was rather severe as he laid his hand on Katy's,
and said:

"Don't be foolish, Katy. Don't you know me? I am Wilford, your husband."

"That was, you mean," Katy rejoined, drawing her hand quickly away. "Go
find your first love, where bullets fall like hail, and where there is
pain, and blood, and carnage. Genevra is there."

She would not let Wilford come near her, and grew so excited by his
presence that he was forced either to leave the room or sit where she
could not see him. He chose the latter, and from his seat by the door
watched with a half-jealous, half-angry heart, Morris Grant doing for
his wife what he should have done.

With Morris Katy was gentle as a little child, talking still of
Genevra, but talking quietly, and in a way which did not wear her out
as fast as her excitement did.

"What God hath joined together let not man put asunder," was the text
from which she preached several short sermons as the night wore on, but
just as the morning dawned she fell into the first quiet sleep she had
had during the last twenty-four hours. And while she slept Wilford
ventured near enough to see the sunken cheeks and hollow eyes which
wrung a groan from him as he turned to Morris, asking what he supposed
was the immediate cause of her sudden illness?

"A terrible shock, the nature of which I understand, but you have
nothing to fear from me," Morris replied. "I accuse you to no man, but
leave you to settle it with your conscience whether you did right to
deceive her so long."

Morris spoke as one having authority, and Wilford simply bowed his head,
feeling then no resentment toward one who had ventured to reprove him.
Afterward he might remember it differently, but now he was too anxious
to keep Morris there to quarrel with him, and so he made no reply, but
sat watching Katy as she slept, wondering if she would die, and feeling
how terrible life would be without her. Suddenly Genevra's warning words
rang in his ear:

"God will not forgive you for the wrong you have done me."

Was Genevra right? Had God remembered all this time, and overtaken him
at last? It might be, and with a groan Wilford hid his face in his
hands, believing that he repented of his sin, and not knowing that his
fancied repentance arose merely from the fact that he had been detected.
Could the last few days be blotted out, and Katy stand just where she
did, with no suspicion of him, he would have cast his remorse to the
winds, and as it is not such repentance God accepts, Wilford had only
begun to sip the cup of retribution presented to his lips.

Worn out with watching and waiting, Mrs. Cameron, who would suffer
neither Juno nor Bell to come near the house, waited uneasily for the
arrival of the New Haven train, which she hoped would bring Helen to her
aid. Under ordinary circumstances she would rather not have met her,
for her presence would keep the letter so constantly in her mind, but
now anybody who could be trusted was welcome, and when at last there
came a cautious ring she went herself to the hall, starting back with
undisguised vexation when she saw the timid-looking woman following
close behind Helen, and whom the latter presented as "My mother, Mrs.
Lennox."

Convinced that Morris' sudden journey to New York had something to do
with Katy's illness, and almost distracted with fears for her daughter's
life, Mrs. Lennox could not remain at home and wait for the tardy mail
or careless telegraph. She must go to her child, and casting off her
dread of Wilford's displeasure, she had come with Helen, and was bowing
meekly to Mrs. Cameron, who neither offered her hand nor gave any token
of greeting except a distant bow and a simple "Good-morning, madam."

But Mrs. Lennox was too timid, too bewildered, and too anxious to notice
the lady's haughty manner as she led them to the library and then went
for her son. Wilford was not glad to see his mother-in-law, but he tried
to be polite, answering her questions civilly, and when she asked if it
was true that he had sent for Morris, assuring her that it was not--"Dr.
Grant happened here very providentially, and I hope to keep him until
the crisis is past, although he has just told me he must go back
to-morrow," Wilford said, mentally hoping Mrs. Lennox might think it
best to go with him, or if she did not, wondering how long she did
intend to stay. It hurt his pride that she, whom he considered greatly
his inferior, should learn his secret; but it could not now be helped,
and within an hour after her arrival she was looking curiously at him
for an explanation of the strange things she heard from Katy's lips.

"Was you a widower when you married my daughter?" she said to him, when
at last Helen left the room, and she was alone with him.

"Yes, madam," he replied, "some would call me so, though I was divorced
from my wife. As this was a matter which did not in any way concern your
daughter, I deemed it best not to tell her. Latterly she has found it
out, and it is having a very extraordinary effect upon her."

Mrs. Lennox was too much afraid of the man addressing her so haughtily
to make him any reply, and so she only wept softly as she bent to kiss
her child, still talking of Genevra and the empty grave at St. Mary's,
where she once sat down.

And this was all Mrs. Lennox knew until alone with Helen, who had heard
from Morris all he knew of the sad story except the part relating to
Marian Hazelton. His sudden journey to New York was thus accounted for,
and Helen explained it to her mother as well as she could, advising her
to say nothing of it either to Wilford or Mrs. Cameron, as it was quite
as well for them not to know it yet. Many messages Helen brought to her
cousin from his patients, and Morris felt it was his duty to go to them
for a day or so at least.

"You have other physicians here," he said to Wilford, who objected to
his leaving. "Dr. Craig will do as well as I."

Wilford admitted that he might; but it was with a sinking heart that he
saw Morris depart, and then went to Katy, who began to grow very
restless and uneasy, bidding him go away and send Dr. Morris back. It
was in vain that they administered the medicine just as Morris had
directed. Katy grew constantly worse, until Mrs. Lennox asked that
another doctor be called. But to this Wilford did not listen. Fear of
exposure and censure were stronger than his fear for Katy's life, which
seemed balancing upon a thread as that long night and the next day went
by. Three times Wilford telegraphed for Morris, and it was with
unfeigned joy that he welcomed him back at last, and heard that he had
so arranged his business now as to stay with Katy while the danger
lasted.

With a monotonous sameness the days now came and went, people still
shunning the house as if the plague was there. Once Bell Cameron came
around to call on Helen, holding her breath as she passed through the
hall, and never asking to go near Katy's room. Two or three times, too,
Mrs. Banker's carriage stood at the door, and Mrs. Banker herself came
in, seeming surprised when she met Helen and appearing so cool and
distant that the latter could scarcely keep back her tears as she
guessed the cause. Mark never came, but from the window Helen saw him
riding by with Juno, who kept her face turned toward him, as if in close
and confidential chat.

"They were engaged," Esther said, adding that "he was about joining the
army as first lieutenant in a company composed of the finest young men
in the city."

Helen doubted if this were true, until one day, when driving with her
mother, she met him arrayed in his new uniform, looking so handsome and
proud. He, too, was driving with a brother officer, and as he passed he
lifted his cap in token of recognition; but the olden look which Helen
remembered so well, and which had been wont to make her pulses thrill
with a most exquisite delight, was gone, and Helen felt more than ever
the wide gulf some hand had built between them. The next she heard was
from Mrs. Banker, whose face looked pale and worn as she incidentally
remarked: "I shall be very lonely now that Mark is gone. He left me
to-day for Washington."

There were tears on the mother's face, and her lip quivered as she tried
to keep them back, looking from the window into the street instead of at
her companion, who, overcome with the rush of feeling which swept over
her, laid her face on the sofa arm and sobbed aloud.

"Why, Helen! Miss Lennox, I am surprised! I had supposed--I was not
aware--I did not think you would care," Mrs. Banker exclaimed, coming
closer to Helen, who stammered out: "I beg you will excuse me, I cannot
help it. I care for all our soldiers. It seems so terrible."

At the words "I care for all the soldiers," a shadow of disappointment
flitted over Mrs. Banker's face. She knew her son had offered himself
and been refused, as she supposed, and she believed, too, that Helen had
given publicity to the affair, feeling justly indignant at this breach
of confidence and lack of delicacy in one whom she had liked so much and
whom she still liked in spite of the wounded pride which had prompted
her to seem so cold and distant.

"Perhaps it is all a mistake," she thought, as she continued standing by
Helen, whose tears did not cease, "or it may be she has relented," and
for a moment she felt tempted to ask why her boy had been refused.

But Mark would not be pleased with her interference, she knew, and so
the golden moment fled, and when she left the house the misunderstanding
between herself and Helen was just as wide as ever. Wearily after that
the days passed with Helen until all thoughts of herself were forgotten
in the terrible fear that death was really brooding over the pillow
where Katy lay, insensible to all that was passing around her. The lips
were silent now, and Wilford had nothing to fear from the tongue
hitherto so busy. Juno, Bell and Father Cameron all came to see her,
dropping tears upon the face looking so old and worn with suffering, but
yet so sweet and pure, and treading softly as they left the room and
went out into the sunshine where Katy might never go again. In the
kitchen there was mourning, too; Phillips weeping for her mistress,
while Esther, with her apron over her head, sobbed passionately, wishing
she, too, might die if Katy did. Mrs. Cameron also was very sorry, very
sad, but managed to find some consolation in mentally arranging a grand
funeral, which would do honor to her son, and wondering if "those
Barlows in Silverton would think they must attend." And while she thus
arranged, the mother who had given birth to Katy wrestled in earnest
prayer that God would spare her child, or at least grant some space in
which she might be told of the world to which she was hastening. What
Wilford suffered none could guess. His face was very white and his
expression almost stern as he sat watching the young wife who had been
his for little more than two brief years, and who but for his sin might
not have been lying there unconscious of the love and grief around her.
Like some marble statue Morris seemed as with lip compressed and brows
firmly knit together he, too, sat watching Katy, feeling for the pulse
and bending his ear to catch the faintest breath which came from her
parted lips, while in his heart there was an earnest prayer for the
safety of the soul hovering so evenly between this world and the next.
He did not ask that she might live, for if all were well hereafter he
knew it was far better for her to die in her young womanhood than to
live till the heart now so sad and bleeding had grown calloused with
sorrow. And yet it was terrible to think of Katy dead; to know that
never again would her little feet dance on the grass, or her bird-like
voice break the silence of his home; terrible to think of that face and
form laid away beneath the turf of Greenwood, where those who loved her
best could seldom go to weep.

And as they sat thus the night shadows stole into the room and the hours
crept on till from a city tower a clock struck ten, and Morris,
motioning Helen to his side, bade her go with her mother to rest. "We do
not need you here," he said, "your presence can do no good. Should a
change occur you shall be told at once."

Thus importuned Helen and her mother withdrew and only Morris and
Wilford remained to watch that heavy slumber so nearly resembling death.



CHAPTER XL.

MORRIS' CONFESSION.


Gradually the noise in the streets died away; the tread of feet, the
rumbling wheels and the tinkle of the car bells ceased, and not a sound
was heard, save as the distant fire bells pealed forth their warning
voices, or some watchman went hurrying by. The great city was asleep,
and to Morris the silence brooding over the countless throng was deeper,
more solemn than the silence of the country where nature gives out her
own mysterious notes and lullabies for her sleeping children. Slowly the
minutes went by, and Morris became at last aware that Wilford's eyes,
instead of resting on the pallid face which seemed to grow each moment
more pallid and ghastly, were fixed on him with an expression which made
him drop the pale hand he held between his own, pooring it occasionally
as a mother might poor and pity the hand of her dying baby.

Before his marriage a jealous thought of Morris Grant had found a
lodgment in Wilford's breast; but remembering the past he had tried to
drive it out, and fancied that he had succeeded, experiencing a sudden
shock when he felt it lifting its green head, and poisoning his mind
against the man doing for Katy only what a brother might do, or rather,
against the motives which prompted this man's devotion. He forgot that
it was his own entreaties which had kept Morris there, refusing to let
him go even for a day to the other patients missing him so much, and
complaining of his absence. Jealous men never reason clearly, and in
this case Wilford did not reason at all, but jumped readily at his
conclusion, calling to his aid as proof all that he had ever seen pass
between Katy and her cousin. That Morris Grant loved Katy was, after a
few moment's reflection, as fixed a fact in his mind as that she lay
there between them, her eyelids quivering, and her lips moaning feebly
as if about to speak. Years before, when Genevra was the wife, jealousy
had made Wilford almost a madman, and it now held him again in its
powerful grasp, whispering suggestions he would have spurned in a calm
frame of mind. There was a clinching of his fist, a knitting of his
brows, and a gathering blackness in his eyes as he listened while Katy,
rousing partially from her lethargy, talked of the days when she was a
little girl, and Morris had built the playhouse for her by the brook,
where the thorn apples grew and the waters fell over the smooth, white
rocks.

"Take me back there," she said, "and let me lie on the grass again. It
is so long since I was there, and I've suffered so much since then.
Wilford meant to be kind, but he did not try to understand or know how I
loved the country with its birds and flowers and springing grass by the
well, where the shadows come and go. I used to wonder where they were
going, and one day when I watched them I was waiting for Wilford, and
wishing he would come. Would it have been better if he had never come?"

Wilford's body shook with strong emotion as he bent forward to hear
Katy's answer to her question.

"Were there no Genevra," she said, "no verse 'what God hath joined
together let no man put asunder,' I should not think so; but there is
such a verse, and now I don't know what I think, only I must go. Come,
Morris, we will go together, you and I."

She turned partly toward Morris, who made her no reply. He could not,
with those fiery eyes fixed upon him, and he sat erect in his chair,
while Katy talked of Silverton, and the days gone by until her voice
grew very faint, ceasing at last as she fell into a second sleep,
heavier, more death-like, than the first. Something in her face alarmed
Morris, and in spite of the eyes watching him he bent every energy to
retain the feeble pulse, and the breath which grew shorter with each
respiration.

"Do you think her dying?" Wilford asked, and Morris replied: "Not yet;
but the look about the mouth and nose is like the look which so often
precedes death."

And that was all they said until another hour went by, when Morris' hand
was laid upon the forehead and moved up under the golden hair where
there were drops of perspiration.

"She is saved, thank God, Mr. Cameron, Katy is saved," was his joyful
exclamation, and burying his head in his hands, he wept for a moment
like a child, for Katy was restored again.

On Wilford's face there was no trace of tears. On the contrary, he
seemed hardening into stone, and in his heart fierce passions were
contending for the mastery, and urging him on to an act from which, in
his right mind, he would have shrunk. Rising slowly at last, he came
around to Morris' side, and grasping his shoulder, said:

"Morris Grant, you love Katy Cameron."

Like the peal of a bell on the frosty air the words rang through the
room, starting Morris from his bowed attitude, and for an instant
curdling his blood in his veins, for he understood now the meaning of
the look which had so puzzled him. In Morris' heart there was a moment's
hesitancy to know just what to answer, an ejaculatory prayer for
guidance, and then lifting up his head, his calm blue eyes met the eyes
of black unflinchingly, as he replied:

"I have loved her always."

A blaze like sheet lightning shot from beneath Wilford's eyelashes, and
a taunting sneer curled his lip, as he said:

"You, a saint, confess to this?"

It was quite natural, and in keeping with human nature for Wilford to
thrust Morris' religion in his face, forgetting that never on this side
the eternal world can man cease wholly to sin, that so long as flesh and
blood remain, there will be temptation, error and wrong, even among
God's children. Morris felt the sneer keenly; but the consciousness of
peace with his Maker sustained him in the shock and, with the same tone
he had at first assumed, he said:

"Should my being what you call a saint prevent my confessing what I
did?"

"No, not the confession, but the fact," Wilford answered, savagely. "How
do you reconcile your acknowledged love for Katy with the injunctions of
the Bible whose doctrines you indorse?"

"A man cannot always control his feelings, but he can strive to overcome
them and put the temptation aside. One does not sin in being tempted,
but in listening to the temptation."

"Then according to your own reasoning you have sinned, for you not only
have teen tempted, but have yielded to the temptation," Wilford
retorted, with a sinister look of exultation in his black eyes.

For a moment Morris was silent, while a struggle of some kind seemed
going on in his mind, and then he said:

"I never thought to lay open to you a secret which, after myself, is, I
believe, known to only one living being."

"And that one--is--you will not tell me that is Katy?" Wilford
exclaimed, his voice hoarse with passion, and his eyes flashing with
fire.

"No, not Katy. She has no suspicion of the pain which, since I saw her
made another's, has eaten into my heart, making me grow old so fast, and
blighting my early manhood."

Something in Morris' tone and manner inspired Wilford with awe, making
him relax his grasp upon the arm, and sending him back to his chair
while Morris continued:

"Most men would shrink from talking to a husband of the love they bore
his wife, and an hour ago I should have shrunk from it, too, but you
have forced me to it, and now you must listen while I tell you of my
love for Katy. It began longer ago than she can remember--began when she
was my baby sister, and I hushed her in my arms to sleep, kneeling by
her cradle and watching her with a feeling I have never been able to
define. She was in all my thoughts, her face upon the printed page of
every book I studied, and her voice in every strain of music I ever
heard. Then, when she grew older, I used to watch the frolicsome child
by the hour, building castles even then of the future, when she would be
a woman and I a man, with a man's right to win her. I know that she
shielded me from many a snare into which young men are apt to fall, for
when the temptation was greatest, and I was at its verge, a thought of
her was sufficient to lead me back to virtue. I carried her in my heart
across the sea, and said when I go back I will ask her to be mine. I
went back, but at my first meeting with Katy after her return from
Canandaigua she told me of you, and I knew then that hope for me was
gone, praying for strength to bear my loss and hide my love from her.
God grant that you nor she may never experience what I experienced on
that day which made her your wife, and I saw her go away. It seemed
almost as if God had forgotten me as the night after the bridal I sat
alone at home, and met that dark hour of sorrow. In the midst of it
Helen came, discovering my secret, and sympathizing with me until the
pain at my heart grew less, and I could pray that God would grant me a
feeling for Katy which should not be sinful. And He did at last, so I
could think of her without a wish that she was mine. Times there were
when the old love would burst forth with fearful power, and then I
wished that I might die. These were my moments of temptation which I
struggled to overcome. Sometimes a song, a strain of music, or a ray of
moonlight on the floor would bring the past to me so vividly that I
would stagger beneath the burden, feeling that it was greater than I
could bear. But God was very merciful and sent me work which took up all
my time, leaving little leisure for regrets, and driving me away from my
own pain to soothe the pain of others. When Katy came to us last summer
there was an hour of trial, when faith in God grew weak, and I was
tempted to question the justice of His dealing with me. But that, too,
passed, and in my love for your child I forgot the mother in part,
looking upon her as a sister rather than the Katy I had loved so well. I
would have given my life to have saved that child for her, even though
it was a bar between us, a something which separated her from me more
than the words she spoke at the altar. Though dead, that baby is still
a bar, and Katy is not the same to me she was before that little life
came into being. It is not wrong to love her as I do now. I feel no pang
of conscience save when something unexpected carries me back to the old
ground where I have fought so many battles."

Morris paused a moment, thinking of the time when Katy came to him with
her story of Genevra, and wondering if it were best to repeat the
incidents of that night. It was not, he finally concluded. It would be
better for Katy to tell it herself, and so he added at last: "What I
have borne has told upon me terribly. My people say I work too hard, but
they look only on the surface--they have never seen that inner chamber
of my heart, where only you have been fully admitted. Even Helen knows
not half what's there, but I felt that it was due to you, and so have
told you all, asking that no shadow of censure shall fall on Katy, who
would be greatly shocked to know what you know now."

Morris' manner was that of a man who spoke with perfect sincerity, and
it carried conviction to Wilford's heart, disarming him for a time of
the fierce anger and resentment he had felt while listening to Morris'
story. Acting upon the good impulse of the moment, he arose, and
offering his hand to Morris, he said:

"You have done nobly, Dr. Grant, I believe in your religion now. Forgive
me that I ever doubted it. I exonerate you from blame."

And thus they pledged their faith, Wilford meaning then all he said, and
feeling only respect for the man who had confessed his love for Katy.
After what had passed, Morris felt that it would be pleasanter for
Wilford if he were gone, and after a time he suggested returning to
Silverton at once, inasmuch as the crisis was past and Katy out of
danger. There was a struggle in Wilford's mind as to the answer he
should make to this suggestion. It would not be pleasant to see Morris
there now, for though he had said he forgave him, there was a feeling of
disquiet at his heart, and he at last signified his willingness for him
to leave when he thought best.

It was broad day when Katy awoke, so weak as to be unable to turn her
head upon the pillow, but in her eyes the light of reason was shining,
and she glanced wonderingly, first at Helen, at her mother, and then at
Wilford, as if trying to comprehend what had happened.

"Have I been sick?" she asked in a whisper, and Wilford, bending over
her, replied: "Yes, darling, very sick for nearly two whole weeks--ever
since I left home that morning, you know."

"Yes," and Katy shivered a little. "Yes, I know. But where is Morris? He
was here the last I can remember."

Wilford's face grew dark at once, and stepping back as Morris came in,
he said: "She asks for you." Then with a rising feeling of resentment he
watched them, while Morris spoke to Katy, telling her she was better,
but must keep very quiet, and not allow herself in any way to be
excited.

"Have I been crazy? Have I talked much?" she asked, and when Morris
replied in the affirmative there came a startled look into her eye, as
she said: "Of what or whom have I talked most?"

"Of Genevra," was the answer, and Katy continued: "Did I mention no one
else?"

Morris guessed of whom she was thinking, and answered, indifferently:
"You spoke of Miss Hazelton in connection with baby, but that was all."

Katy was satisfied, and closing her eyes fell away to sleep again, while
Morris made his preparations for leaving. It hardly seemed right for him
to go just then, but the only one who could have kept him maintained a
frigid silence with regard to a longer stay, and so the first train
which left New York for Springfield carried Dr. Grant, and Katy was
without a physician.

Wilford had hoped that Mrs. Lennox, too, would see the propriety of
accompanying Morris; but she would not leave Katy, and Wilford was fain
to submit to what he could not help. No explanation whatever had he
given to Mrs. Lennox or Helen with regard to Genevra. He was too proud
for that, but his mother had deemed it wise to smooth the matter over as
much as possible, enjoining upon them both the necessity of secrecy.

"When I tell you that neither my husband or daughters know it, you will
understand that I am greatly in earnest in wishing it kept," she said.
"It was a most unfortunate affair, and though the divorce is, of
course, to be lamented, it is better that she died. We never could have
received her as our equal."

"Was anything the matter, except that she was poor?" Mrs. Lennox asked,
with as much dignity as was in her nature to assume.

"Well, no. She had a good education, I believe, and was very pretty; but
it makes trouble always where there is a great inequality between a
husband's family and that of his wife."

Poor Mrs. Lennox understood this perfectly, but she was too much afraid
of the great lady to venture a reply, and a tear rolled down her burning
cheek as she wet the napkin for Katy's head, wishing that she had back
again the daughter, whose family she knew the Camerons despised. The
atmosphere of Madison Square did not suit Mrs. Lennox, especially when,
as the days went by and Katy began to mend, troops of gay ladies called,
mistaking her for the nurse, and all staring a little curiously when
told that she was Mrs. Cameron's mother. Of course, Wilford chafed and
fretted at what he could not help, seldom addressing his mother-in-law
on any subject, and making himself so generally disagreeable that Helen
at last suggested returning home, inasmuch as Katy was so much better.
There was then a faint remonstrance on his part, but Helen did not waver
in her decision, though she pitied Katy, who, when the day of her
departure came and they were for a few moments alone, took her hand
between her own and kissing it fondly, said: "You don't know how I dread
your going or how wretched I shall be without you. Everything which once
made me happy has been removed or changed. Baby is dead, and
Wilford--oh, Helen, I sometimes wish I had not heard of Genevra, for I
am afraid it can never be with us as it was once; that is, I have not
quite the same trust in him, and he seems so changed. Have you noticed
how silent and moody he has grown?"

Helen had noticed it, but she would not say so, and she tried to comfort
her sister, telling her she would be very happy yet; "but, Katy
darling," she continued, "you have a duty to perform as well as Wilford.
Your heart is very sore now because of the deception, but you must not
let that soreness appear in your manner. You must be to Wilford just
what you always were, unless you wish to wean him from you. He, too, has
had a terrible shock; his pride and self-love have been wounded, and men
like him do not like being humbled as he has been. You must soothe him,
Katy, and smooth his ruffled feathers, proving to him that you can and
do forgive the past. And, Katy, remember you have a Friend always near
to whom you can carry your burdens, sure that He will listen and heal
the smarting pain. Go to Him often and make Him yours indeed. He has
come very near to you within the last year, and such visitations have a
meaning in them. Listen, then, lest He should come again and visit you
with greater sufferings."

"Purified by Suffering." The words came floating back to Katy, just as
Uncle Ephraim had spoken them in the pleasant meadowland, and just as
they had sometimes haunted her since, but never having so deep a meaning
as now, when Helen's words suggested them again. She was suffering, oh,
so terribly, but was she purifying, too? She feared not, and after the
sad parting with her mother and sister was over she turned her face to
her pillow, trying so hard to pray that God would make her His own, and
by the suffering He sent purify her for heaven.



CHAPTER XLI.

DOMESTIC TROUBLES.


From the bathroom, which adjoined Katy's sickroom, Wilford had heard all
that passed between the sisters, and his face grew dark as he thought of
having his "ruffled feathers smoothed" even by the little thin white
hand, which, the first time it had a chance laid itself upon his face
with a caressing motion, from which he involuntarily drew back, thinking
the affection thus timidly expressed was all put on with a view to being
good, as he termed it.

Wilford was in a most unhappy frame of mind. He was not pleased that
Katy had heard of Genevra, and imparted his secret to others. He did not
like being humbled as he had been, even Mrs. Lennox taking it upon
herself to lecture him for his misdemeanors, sobbing as she lectured,
and asking "how he could treat Katy so?" He did not like, either, to
lose Helen's good opinion, as he was sure he had, while, worse than all
the rest, was the galling fact that Morris Grant loved his wife, and was
undoubtedly more worthy of her than himself. He had said that he forgave
Morris, and at the time he said it he fancied he did, but as the days
went by, and thought was all the busier from the moody silence he
maintained, there gradually came to life a feeling of dislike, if not of
hatred, for the man, whose name he could not hear without a frown,
telling Katy very sharply once that he wished she would not talk so much
of Cousin Morris, as if there were no other physician in the world! Dr.
Craig would have done quite as well, and for his part he wished they had
employed him.

Wilford knew he did not mean what he said, but he was in a very
unamiable frame of mind, and watched Katy close, to detect, if possible,
some sign by which he should know that Morris' love was reciprocated.
But Katy was innocence itself, and as the weeks of convalescence went by
she tried so hard to do her duty as a wife, going often to the Friend of
whom Helen had told her, and finding there the grace which helped her
bear what otherwise she could not have borne and lived. The entire
history of her life during that wretched winter was never told save as
it was written on her face, which was a volume in itself of meek and
patient suffering.

Wilford had never mentioned Genevra to her since the day of his return,
and Katy sometimes felt that it would be well to talk that matter over.
It might lead to a more perfect understanding than existed between them
now, and dissipate the cloud which hung so darkly on their domestic
horizon. But Wilford repulsed all her advances upon that subject, and
Genevra was a dead name in their household, save as it was on Katy's
lips when she prayed, asking that she might feel only perfect kindness
toward the Genevra who had so darkened her life.

Wilford's home was not pleasant to him now, but the fault was with
himself. Katy did well her part, meeting him always with a smile, and
trying to win him from the dark mood she could not fathom. Times there
were when for an entire day he would appear like his former self,
caressing her with unwonted tenderness, calling her his "poor crushed
dove," but never asking her forgiveness for all he had made her endure.
He was too proud to do that now, and his tenderness always passed away
when he remembered Morris Grant and Katy's remark to Helen: "I am afraid
it can never be with us as it was once. I have not the same trust in
him."

"She had no right to complain of me to Helen," he thought, forgetting
the time when he had been guilty of a similar offense in a more
aggravated form.

He could not reason upon anything naturally, and matters grew daily
worse, while Katy's face grew whiter and her voice sadder in its tone.

Sometimes Wilford would spend the entire evening away from home,
tarrying till the clock struck twelve before he came, and Katy would
afterward hear that he had been at the house of some friend, or with
Sybil Grandon, whose influence over him increased in proportion as her
own was lessened.

When the Lenten days came on, oh, how Katy longed to be in Silverton, to
kneel again in its quiet church, and offer up her penitential prayers
with the loved ones at home. At last she ventured to ask Wilford if she
might go, her spirits rising when he did not refuse her request at once,
but asked:

"Whom do you wish to see the most?"

His black eyes seemed reading her through, and something in their
expression brought to her face the blush which he construed according to
his jealousy, and when she answered:

"I wish to see them all," he retorted:

"Say, rather, you wish to see that doctor, who has loved you so long,
and who but for me would have asked you to be his wife!"

"What doctor, Wilford? Whom do you mean?" and Wilford replied:

"Dr. Grant, of course. Did you never suspect it?"

"Never," and Katy's face grew very white, as she asked how Wilford knew
what he had asserted.

"I had it from his own lips; he sitting on one side of you and I upon
the other. I so far forgot myself as to charge him with loving you, and
he did not deny it, but confessed as pretty a piece of romance as I ever
read, except that, according to his story, it was a one-sided affair,
confined wholly to himself. You never dreamed of it, he said."

"Never, no, never," Katy said, panting for her breath, and remembering
suddenly many things which confirmed what she had heard.

"Poor Morris, how my thoughtlessness must have wounded him," she
murmured, and then all the pent up passion in Wilford's heart burst out
in an impetuous storm.

He did not charge his wife directly with returning Morris' love, but he
said he was sorry she had not known it earlier; asking her pointedly if
it were not so, and pressing her for an answer until the bewildered
creature cried out:

"Oh, I don't know. I never thought of it before."

"But you can think of it now," Wilford continued, his cold, icy tone
making Katy shiver, as more to herself than him she said:

"A life at Linwood would be perfect rest, compared to this."

Wilford had wrung from her all he cared to know, and believing himself
the most injured man in existence, he left the house, and Katy heard his
step as it went furiously down the walk. For a time she seemed stunned
with what she had heard, and then there came stealing into her heart a
glad feeling that Morris deemed her worthy of his love when she had so
often feared the contrary. It was not a wicked emotion, nor one
faithless to Wilford. She could pray with just as pure a heart as
before, and she did pray, thanking God for the love of this good man,
and asking that long ere this he might have learned to be content
without her. Never once did the thought "It might have been," intrude
itself upon her, nor did she picture to herself the life which she had
missed. She seemed to rise above all that, and Wilford, had he read her
heart, would have found no evil there.

"Poor Morris," she kept repeating, while little throbs of pleasure went
dancing through her veins, and the world was not one-half so dreary for
knowing he had loved her. Toward Wilford, too, her heart went out in a
fresh gush of tenderness, for she knew how one of his jealous nature
must have suffered.

"I'll drive down to the office for him this afternoon," she said. "That
will surely please him; and to prove still further that I never dreamed
of Morris' love, I'll tell him coming home how in the great sorrow about
Genevra I went to him for counsel, and how he sent, or rather, brought
me back."

But this confession would necessitate her telling that Genevra was not
dead, and it was better for them both, she thought, that he should not
know this until the relations between herself and him were more as they
used to be; so she decided finally to withhold the fact for a time at
least. But she would go for him, as she had at first intended, and she
counted the hours impatiently, thinking once her watch had stopped, and
seeming brighter and happier than she had been since her illness, when
at last she stepped into her carriage, and was driven down Broadway.

Business had gone wrong with Wilford that day, and Tom Tubbs had
mentally pronounced his master "crosser than a bear," and sighing
secretly for the always cheerful Mark, he had taken up his book, and was
quietly reading by the office window when Katy came in, her white face
seeming whiter from contrast with her black dress, and her eyes looking
unnaturally large and bright as she darted across the room to Wilford,
who, surprised to see her there, and a good deal displeased withal,
inasmuch as he had often said that the office was no place for his wife,
never smiled or spoke, but with pent up brows waited for her to open the
conversation. Katy saw she was not welcome, and with a tremulous voice
she began:

"The day is so fine I thought I would come in the carriage for you. It
is early yet, and if you like, we can have a little drive. It might do
you good. You look tired," she continued, and unmindful of Tom, trying
to smooth his hair.

With an impatient gesture, Wilford drew his hand away from the pale
fingers which sought their fellows in a nervous clasp as Katy tried not
to think Wilford cross, even after he replied:

"You need not have come for me, as I always prefer a stage; besides
that, I can't go home just yet, I am not ready."

Katy stood a moment in silence, a flush on her cheek and a pallor about
her lips, which Tom Tubbs saw, secretly shaking his fist and thinking
how he would like to knock down the man who could speak so to a wife as
beautiful and sweet as Katy seemed.

"I have not been here before since my illness, and I wanted to come once
more," she said at last, apologetically, while Wilford, still looking
over papers, replied: "A sweet place to come to. I sometimes hate it
myself. By the way, I have something to tell you," and his face began to
brighten. "Mrs. Mills, from Yonkers, was in town to-day, and as she had
not time to see you, she found me and insisted upon your keeping the
promise you made last summer of spending some days with her. The
Beverleys are there and the Lincolns--quite a nice party--so I ventured
to say that you should go out to-morrow and I would come out Saturday
afternoon to spend Sunday."

"Oh, Wilford, I can't," and Katy's lip began to quiver at the very
thought of meeting people like the Beverleys and Lincolns in her present
state of mind.

"You can't! Why not?" Wilford asked, and Katy replied: "I've never been
in so much company as I shall meet there since baby died, and then--did
you forget that it was Lent?"

"You are getting very good to think a few days' visit in the country
will harm you," Wilford replied; "besides that, neither Mrs. Mills, nor
the Beverleys, nor Lincolns, are church people, and cannot, of course,
sympathize in this superstitious fancy."

Katy looked up in astonishment, for never before had she heard Wilford
speak thus of the Fast which his whole family honored. But Wilford was
growing hard, and with a sigh Katy turned away, knowing how useless it
was to reason with him then. Driving home alone, she gave vent to a
passionate flood of tears as she wondered how it all would end. For some
reason Wilford had set his heart upon the visit to Mrs. Mills, a
pleasant, fascinating woman, who liked Katy very much and had
anticipated the promised visit with a great deal of pleasure, making all
her plans with a direct reference to Mrs. Cameron, whose absence would
have been a great disappointment. Wilford knew this and resolved that
Katy should go, and as opposition to his will was always useless, the
close of the next day found Katy at Mrs. Mills' handsome dwelling
overlooking the broad river and the blue mountains beyond. Wilford was
with her; he had come out to spend the night, returning to the city in
the morning. Now that he had accomplished his purpose he was in the best
of spirits, treating Katy with unwonted kindness and wondering why he
hated so to leave her, while she, too, clung to him, wishing he could
stay. Their parting was only for two days, for this was Thursday, and he
was to return on Saturday, but in the hearts of both there was that dark
foreboding which is so often a sure precursor of evil. Twice Wilford
turned back to kiss his wife, feeling tempted once to tell her he was
sorry for his jealousy and distrust, but such confession was hard for
him and so he left it unsaid, looking back to the window against which
Katy's face was pressed as she watched him going from her, but little
guessing what would be ere she looked on him again.

       *       *       *       *       *

Tom Tubbs sat reading Chitty as usual when Mr. Cameron came in from his
trip up the river. Since Katy's last call at the office Tom had been
haunted with her face as it looked when Wilford's cold greeting fell on
her ear, and after a private conference with Mattie, who listened
eagerly to every item of information with regard to Katy, he had come to
the conclusion that his employer was a brute, and that his wife was not
as happy as it was his duty to make her.

"It's mean in him to speak so hateful to her," he was thinking just as
Wilford came in, appearing so very amiable and good-humored that the boy
ventured to inquire for Mrs. Cameron. "She looked so pale and sick, the
other day," he said, "almost as bad in fact as she did that night in the
cars with Dr. Grant, just before she was so dangerously ill."

"What's that? What did you say?" Wilford asked quickly, and Tom,
thinking he had not been understood, repeated his words, while in a
voice which Tom scarcely knew, it was so low and husky, Wilford asked:
"What night was Mrs. Cameron in the cars with Dr. Grant? When was it,
and where?"

As suspicion is an intense magnifier, so the absence of it will blind
one completely, and Tom was thus blindfolded as he stated in detail how
two months or more ago, while Mr. Cameron was absent, he had been sent
by Mr. Ray to Hartford, returning in the early train, that just before
him, in the car, a gentleman sat with a lady who seemed to be sick, at
all events her head lay on his shoulder and he occasionally bent over
her to see if she wanted anything.

"I did not mind much about them," Tom said, "till it got to broad
daylight, when I saw the man was Dr. Grant, and when we reached New York
the lady threw back her veil and I saw it was Mrs. Cameron."

"Are you sure?" and Wilford grasped Tom's arm with an energy which made
the boy wince, while there came over him a suspicion that he had talked
too much.

But it could not now be helped, and to Wilford's question he answered:

"Yes, for she bowed to me and smiled."

"Where did they go?" was the next question, put in thunder tones, for
Wilford was remembering things Katy said in her delirium, and which were
now explained, if Tom's statement was true.

"They went off in a carriage toward your house, and that night I heard
she was sick," Tom said, going back to his book, while Wilford seized
his hat and started up Broadway. It was not his intention when he left
the office to question the servants with regard to his wife, for every
feeling and principle of his nature shrank from such an act, but by the
time his home could be reached it could scarcely be said that he was in
his right mind, and meeting Phillips in the hall, he demanded of her "if
she remembered the day when Mrs. Cameron was first taken ill."

Yes. Phillips remembered how sick Esther said she looked when she came
home from his father's, where she spent the night.

"Oh, yes; she stayed at my father's then. It was very proper she
should," Wilford replied, recollecting himself, and trying to appear
natural, so that Phillips would not suspect him of any special purpose
in questioning her.

If Katy spent the night at his father's then Tom's statement was not
true, and dismissing Phillips he hastened to his mother, to whom he put
the question:

"Did Katy stay here a night while I was gone, the night but one after
that dinner when she heard of Genevra, I mean?"

"Why, no," Mrs. Cameron replied, in some surprise. "Katy has not stayed
here since last October, just after she came from Silverton, and you
were in Detroit. Why do you ask? What is the matter? What do you fear?"

Wilford would not tell his mother what he feared, but waived her
question by bidding her repeat what she could remember of the day when
she was first summoned to Katy, and to tell him also who was there.

"Dr. Grant was there, and Dr. Craig," she said. "The former, as I
understood from Esther, had just come to the city and called on Katy,
finding her so ill that he sent for me immediately."

"And you do not know that Katy was away from home at all?" was Wilford's
next inquiry, to which his mother replied:

"Esther spoke of her looking very sick when she came in, from which I
inferred she had been driving or shopping, but she was not here, sure."

Esther, it would seem, was the only one who could throw light upon the
mystery, and as by this time the jealous man did not care whom he
questioned, he left his mother without a word of explanation, and
hurried home, where he found Esther, and in a voice which made her
tremble, bade her answer his questions truthfully, without the slightest
attempt at evasion.

"Yes, sir," Esther replied, and Wilford continued:

"Where was your mistress the night before Dr. Grant came here, and she
was so very sick?"

"I don't know, sir. I had the impression that she at your mother's.
Wasn't she there?" and Esther looked very innocent, while Wilford
replied:

"It is your business to answer questions, not to ask them. Tell me then
the particulars of her going away, and what she said."

As nearly as she could remember Esther repeated what had passed between
herself and Katy that morning, but her manner was such as to convince
Wilford she was keeping back something, and in a paroxysm of excitement
he seized her arm, exclaiming:

"You know more than you admit. Tell me then the truth. Who came home
with Mrs. Cameron, and when?"

Esther was afraid of Wilford, and at last between tears and sobs
confessed that Mrs. Wilford said she had been out of town, but asked her
not to tell, that she guessed it was Silverton where she had been, and
also that when she opened the door to her, Dr. Morris was going down the
steps; "not in a hurry--not like making off as if there was something
wrong," she added, in her eagerness to exonerate her mistress.

"Who hinted there was anything wrong?" Wilford exclaimed, in tones which
made poor Esther tremble, for now that he had heard all he cared to
hear, he began to be ashamed of having gained his information in the way
he had.

"Nobody hinted," Esther sobbed, with her face hidden in her apron; "and
if they did it's false. There never was a truer, sweeter lady."

"See that you stick to that whatever may occur, and, mind you, let there
be no repeating this conversation in the kitchen or elsewhere," Wilford
hurled at her savagely, going next to a telegraph office, and sending
over the wires the following:

"NEW YORK, March --, 1862.

"To MR. EPHRAIM BARLOW, Silverton, Mass.

"Has Mrs. Wilford Cameron been in Silverton since last September?
W. CAMERON."

To this he was prompted by Esther's having suggested Silverton, as the
place where her mistress had possibly been, and taking warning by his
past experience with Genevra, he resolved to give Katy the benefit of
every doubt, to investigate closely, before taking the decisive step,
which even while Tom Tubbs was talking to him had flashed into his mind.
Perhaps Katy had been to Silverton in her excited state, and if so the
case was not so bad, though he blamed her much for concealing it from
him. At first he thought of telegraphing to Morris, but pride kept him
from that, and Uncle Ephraim was made the recipient of the telegram,
which startled him greatly, being the first of the kind sent directly to
him.

As it chanced the deacon was in town that day, and at the store just
across the street from the telegraph office. This the agent knew by old
Whitey, who was standing meekly at the hitching-post, covered with his
blanket, a faded woolen bedspread, which years before Aunt Betsy had
spun and woven herself.

"A letter for me!" Uncle Ephraim said, when the message was put into his
hands. "Who writ it?" and he turned it to the light trying to recognize
the handwriting.

"I think it wants an answer," the boy said, as Uncle Ephraim thrust it
into his pocket, and taking up his molasses jug and codfish started for
the door.

"May be it does. I'll look again," and depositing his fish and jug
safely under the wagon box, the old man adjusted his spectacles, and
with the aid of the boy deciphered the dispatch.

"What does it mean?" he asked, but the boy volunteered no ideas, and the
simple-hearted deacon asked next: "What shall I tell him?"

"Why, tell him whether she has been here or not since last September.
Write on the envelope what you want sent, so I can take it back; and
come, hurry up your cakes, I can't wait all day," and young America,
having thus asserted its superiority over old, began to kick the melting
snow, while Uncle Ephraim, greatly bewildered and perplexed, bent
himself to the tremendous task of writing the four words:

"Not to my knowledge." To this he appended: "Yours, with regret, Ephraim
Barlow," and handing it to the waiting boy, unhitched old Whitey, and
stepping into his wagon, drove home as rapidly as the half-frozen March
mud would allow.

"I wonder what he sent me that word for?" he kept repeating to himself.
"We had a letter from Katy yesterday, and there can't be nothing wrong.
I won't tell the folks yet a while anyway till I see what comes of it,
Lucy is so fidgety."

It was this resolution, whether wise or unwise, which kept from Morris
and the deacon's family a knowledge of the telegram, the answer to which
was read by Wilford within half an hour after the deacon's arrival home.

"She has not been to Silverton," Wilford said. "The case then is very
clear."

Indeed, it had been growing clear to the suspicious man ever since Tom
Tubbs' unfortunate remark. There are no glasses as perfect as those
which jealousy wears, no magnifying lens as powerful, and Wilford was
"fully convinced." Had he been asked of what he was convinced he could
hardly have told unless it were that in some way he had been deceived,
that Morris had spoken falsely when he said his love for Katy was not
returned or even suspected, that Katy had acted the hypocrite, and that
both had been guilty of a great indiscretion, at least, by being seen as
they were in the New Haven train, and then keeping the occurrences of
that night a secret from him. Wilford did not believe Katy had fallen,
but she had surely stepped upon forbidden ground, and it was not in his
nature to forgive the error--at least, not then, when he was so sore
with past remembrances which had come so fast upon him. First, the
baby's death, just when he was learning to love it so much, then the
Genevra affair about which Katy had acted so foolishly, then the talk
with Dr. Grant, and then his last offense, so much worse than all the
rest.

It was a sad catalogue of grievances, and Wilford made it sadder by
brooding over and magnifying it until he reached a point from which he
would not swerve.

"I shall do it," he said, and his lips were pressed firmly together, as
before his lonely fire he sat that chill March night, revolving the past
and then turning to the future opening so darkly before him, and making
him shudder as he thought of what it might bring. "I will spare Katy as
much as possible," he said, "for hers is a different nature from
Genevra's. She cannot bear as well," and a bitter groan broke the
silence of the room as Katy came up before him just as she had looked
that very morning standing by the window, with tears in her eyes, and a
wistful, sorry look on her white face.

Could she be false to him and wear that look? The question staggered
Wilford for a moment, but when he remembered the proof, he steeled his
heart against her and prepared to act.



CHAPTER XLII.

DISAPPEARED.


All the next day Wilford was very busy arranging his affairs, and a
casual looker-on would have seen nothing unusual in the face always so
grave and cold. But to Tom Tubbs, casting furtive glances over his book
and wondering at his employer's sudden activity, it was terrible in its
dark, hard, unrelenting expression, while even his mother, upon whom he
called that evening, looked at him anxiously, asking what was the
matter, but not mentioning the conversation held with her the previous
day respecting Katy.

She was still at Yonkers, Wilford said, and his voice was very natural
as he added: "I am expected to go out there to-morrow night with
Beverley and Lincoln, whose wives are also at Mrs. Mills'; quite a gay
party we shall make," and he tried to smile, but it was a sickly effort
and made his face look still more ghastly and strange.

"What ails you, Wilford?" his mother asked, but he answered pettishly:
"Nothing, so pray don't look at me so curiously as if I was hiding some
terrible secret."

He was hiding a secret, and it almost betrayed itself, when at last he
said good-by to his mother, who followed him to the door and stood
looking after him in the darkness until the sound of his footsteps died
away upon the pavement. There was a fire in his room and Wilford sat
down to write the brief note he would leave, for when the night shut
down again he would not be there. He could not feel that the parting
from Katy would be final, because he did not believe she had sinned as
he counted sin, but she certainly preferred another to himself; she had
deceived him and played the successful hypocrite. This was Wilford's
accusation against his wife; this for what she must be punished, until
such time as his royal clemency saw fit to forgive and take her back as
he meant to. He had no fear of her going to Morris, or to the farmhouse
either, for much as she was attached to her family, he believed she
would shrink from a return to poverty, choosing rather the luxuries of
her city home. And he would put no impediment in the way of her staying
there as long as she liked; he would arrange that for her, feeling
himself very magnanimous as he thought of giving her permission to
invite her mother to New York as a kind of protection against scandalous
remarks. Mrs. Lennox and Helen too should come. That certainly was
generous, and lest his goodness should abate he seized his pen and
wrote:

"DEAR KATY: Your own conscience will tell you whether you are worthy of
being addressed as 'Dear,' but I have called you thus so often that I
cannot bring myself to any other form. Do my words startle you, and will
you be sorry when you read this and find that I am gone, that you are
free from the husband you do not love, the husband whom perhaps you
never loved, though I thought you did? I trusted you once, and now I do
not blame you as much as I ought, for you are young. You are easily
influenced. You are very susceptible to flattery, as was proven by your
career at Saratoga and Newport. I had no suspicion of you then, but now
that I know you better, I see that it was not all childish simplicity
which made you smile so graciously upon those who sought your favor. You
are a coquette, Katy, and the greater one because of that semblance of
artlessness which is the perfection of art. This, however, I might
forgive, were it not for one flagrant act, which, if it is not a proof
of faithlessness, certainly borders upon it. You know to what I refer,
or if you do not, ask your smooth-tongued saint, your companion in the
New Haven train; he will enlighten you; he will not wonder at my going,
and perhaps he will offer you comfort, both religious and otherwise; but
if you ever wish me to return, avoid him as you would shun a deadly
poison. Until I countermand the order I wish you to remain here in this
house, which I bought for you. Helen and your mother both may live with
you, while father will have a general oversight of your affairs; I shall
send him a line to that effect. And now, good-by. I am very calm as I
write this, because I know you have deceived me. Not as I did you with
regard to Genevra, but in a deeper sense, which touches a tenderer point
and makes me willing to brave the talk my sudden departure will create.
No one knows I am going, no one will know until you have waited and
looked in vain for me with the gay young men who to-morrow night-will
join their wives as I hoped yesterday morning to join mine. But that is
over now. I cannot come to you. I am going away, where--it matters not
to you. So farewell.

"Your deceived and disappointed husband."

Had Wilford read this letter over, he might not have left it, but he did
not read it, and in recalling its contents he gave himself great credit
for his forbearance when speaking of Morris, whom he hated so cordially.
Sealing the letter, and laying it in Katy's drawer just above where she
had left his, he tried to sleep; but the morning found him haggard and
tired, and Esther, as she poured his coffee, asked if he was sick.

"No," he answered, and then as he pushed back his chair, he said: "I
shall not be home again to-day, as Mrs. Cameron expects me to spend
Sunday at Yonkers."

And so all that day and the next, the doors were locked, the shutters
closed, the curtains dropped, while an ominous silence reigned
throughout the house; but when Monday came, and was halfway gone there
were inquiries made for Mr. Cameron by young Beverley and Lincoln, whose
faces looked anxious and disturbed at Esther's answer:

"He went to Yonkers, Saturday. I have not seen him since."

       *       *       *       *       *

Out at Yonkers on Saturday night, three young wives had waited for their
husbands, and none more eagerly than Katy, who, fair as a lily, in her
dark dress, with her soft hair curling about her face, sat by the window
watching for the carriage from the station, hers the first ear to catch
the sound of wheels, and here the first form upon the piazza.

"Where's Wilford?" she asked, as only two alighted, and neither of them
her husband.

But no one could answer that question. The gentlemen had looked for him
at Chambers Street, expecting him every moment to join them. Perhaps he
was detained, he might come yet at twelve, they said, trying to comfort
Katy, who, with a sad foreboding, went back into the parlor, and tried
to join in the laugh and jest which seemed almost like mockery.
Something had happened to Wilford she was sure when the night train did
not bring him; and all the next day, while the Sunday bells pealed their
music in her ears, and the sounds of thoughtless mirth came up from the
room below, where the elaborate dinner was in progress, she lay upon her
pillow, her head almost bursting with pain, and her heart aching so
sadly as she tried to pray that no harm had befallen her husband. She
never dreamed of his desertion, even when about noon of the next day a
telegram came from Father Cameron, bidding her hasten to the city.
Wilford was sick or dead, probably the latter, was the feeling uppermost
in her mind, as she was borne rapidly to New York, where Mr. Cameron met
her, his face confirming her fears, but not preparing her for the great
shock awaiting her.

"Wilford is not dead," he said, when at last she was in the carriage.
"It is worse than that, I fear. We have traced him to the Philadelphia
train, which he took on Saturday. His manner all that day and the
previous one was very strange, while from some words he dropped my wife
is led to suppose there was trouble between you two. Was there?" and
Father Cameron's gray eyes rested earnestly on the white, frightened
face which looked up so quickly as Katy gasped:

"No, oh, no; he never was kinder to me than when we parted last Friday
morning at Mrs. Mills'. There is some mistake. He would not leave me,
though he has not been quite the same since--"

Katy was interrupted by the carriage stopping before her home; but when
they had been admitted to the parlor where a fire was lighted, Father
Cameron said:

"Go on now. Wilford has not been the same since when?"

Thus importuned Katy continued:

"Since baby died. I think he blamed me as the cause of its death."

"Don't babies die every day?" Father Cameron growled, kicking at the
hearth rug, while Katy, without considering that he had never heard of
Genevra, continued:

"And then it was worse after I found out about Genevra, his first wife."

"Genevra! Genevra, Wilford's first wife! Thunder and lightning! what are
you talking about?" and Father Cameron bent down to look in Katy's face,
thinking she was going mad.

But Katy was not mad, and knowing it was now too late to retract, she
told the story of Genevra Lambert to the old man, who, utterly
confounded, stalked up and down the room, kicking away chairs and
footstools, and whatever came in his way, and swearing promiscuously at
his wife and Wilford, whom he pronounced a precious pair of fools, with
a dreadful adjective appended to the fools, and an emphasis in his voice
which showed he meant what he said.

"It's all accounted for now," he said, "the piles of money that boy had
abroad, his privacy with his mother, and all the other tomfoolery I
could not understand. Katy," and pausing in his walk, Mr. Cameron came
close to his daughter-in-law, who was lying with her face upon the sofa.
"Katy, be glad your baby died. Had it lived it might have proved a curse
just as mine have done--not all, for Bell, though fiery as a pepper-pod,
has some heart, some sense--and there was Jack, my oldest boy, a little
fast, it's true; but when he died over the sea, I forgave all that,
forgetting the chair he broke over a tutor's head, and the scrapes for
which I paid as high as a thousand at one time. He sowed his wild oats,
and died before he could reap them, died a good man, I believe, and went
to heaven. Juno you know, and you can judge whether she is such as would
delight a parent's heart; while Wilford, my only boy, to deceive me so;
though I knew he was a fool in some things, I did trust Wilford."

The old man's voice shook now, and Katy felt his tears dropping on her
hair as he stooped down over her. Checking them, however, he said:

"And he was cross because you found him out. Was there no other reason?"

Katy thought of Dr. Morris, but she could not tell of that, and so she
answered:

"There was--but please don't ask me now. I can't tell, only I was not to
blame. Believe me, father, I was not to blame."

"I'll swear to that," was the reply, as Father Cameron commenced his
walking again. "He may have left some word, some line," he said.
"Suppose you look. It would probably be upstairs."

Katy had not thought of this, but it seemed reasonable that it should be
so, and going to her room, followed by Father Cameron, she went, as by
some instinct, to the very drawer where the letter lay.

There was perfect silence while she read it through, Mr. Cameron never
taking his eyes from the face which turned first white, then red, then
spotted, and finally took a leaden hue as Katy ran over the lines,
comprehending the truth as she read, and when the letter was finished,
lifting her dry, tearless eyes to Father Cameron, and whispering to
herself:

"Deserted!"

She let him read the letter, and when he had finished explained the
parts he did not understand, telling him now what Morris had confessed,
telling him too that in her first sorrow, when life and sense seemed
reeling, she had gone to Dr. Grant, who had brought her back, as a
brother might have done, and this was the result.

"Why did you say you went to him--that is, what was the special reason?"
Mr. Cameron asked, and after a moment's hesitancy, Katy told him her
belief that Genevra was living--that it was she who made the bridal
trousseau for Wilford's second wife, who nursed his child until it died,
giving to it her own name, arraying it for the grave, and then leaving,
as she always did, before the father came.

"I never told Wilford," Katy said. "I felt as if I would rather he
should not know it yet. Perhaps I was wrong, but if so, I have been
terribly punished."

Mr. Cameron could not look upon the woman who stood before him, so
helpless and stricken in her desolation, and believe her wrong in
anything. The guilt lay in another direction, and when as the terrible
reality that she was indeed a deserted wife came rushing over Katy, she
tottered toward him for help, he stretched his arms out for her, and
taking the sinking figure in them, laid it upon the sofa as gently, as
kindly as Wilford had ever touched it in his most loving days.

Katy did not faint nor weep. She was past all that, but her face was
like a piece of marble, and her eyes were like those of the hunted fawn
when the chase is at its height and escape impossible.

"Wilford would come back if he knew just how it was," the father said,
"but the trouble is where to find him. He speaks of writing to me, as I
presume he will in a day or so, and perhaps it will be as well to wait
till then. What the plague--who is ringing that bell enough to break the
wire?" he added, as a sharp, rapid ring echoed through the house and was
answered by Esther. "It's my wife," he continued, as he caught the sound
of her voice asking if Mrs. Cameron had returned. "You stay here while I
meet her first alone. I'll give it to her for cheating me so long and
raising thunder generally!"

Katy tried to protest, but he was halfway down the stairs, and in a
moment more was with his wife, who had come around armed and equipped to
censure Katy as the cause of Wilford's disappearance, and to demand of
her where she was the night she pretended to spend at No. ---- Fifth
Avenue. But the lady who came in so haughty and indignant was a very
different personage from the lady who, after listening for fifteen
minutes to a fearful storm of oaths and reproaches, mingled with
startling truths and bitter denunciations against herself and her boy,
sank into a chair, pale and trembling, and overwhelmed with the harvest
she was reaping.

But her husband was not through with her yet. He had reserved the
bitterest drop for the last, and coming close to her he said:

"And who think you the woman is--this Genevra, Wilford's and your
divorced wife? You were too proud to acknowledge an apothecary's
daughter! See if you like better a dressmaker, a nurse to Katy's baby,
Marian Hazelton!"

He whispered the last name, and with a shriek the lady fainted. Mr.
Cameron would not summon a servant, and as there was no water in the
room, he walked to the window, and lifting the sash scraped from the
sill a handful of the light spring snow which had been falling since
noon. With this he brought his wife back to consciousness, and then
marked out her future course.

"I know what is in your mind," he said. "You would like to have all the
blame rest on Katy; but, madam, hear me--just so sure as through your
means one breath of suspicion falls on her. I'll _bla at_ out the whole
story of Genevra. Then see who is censured. On the other hand, if you
hold your tongue, and make Juno hold hers, and stick to Katy through
thick and thin, acting as if you would like to swallow her whole, I'll
say nothing of this Genevra. Is it a bargain?"

"Yes," came faintly from the sofa cushions, where Mrs. Cameron had
buried her face, sobbing in a confused, frightened way, and after a
moment finding voice to say: "What will you do with Phillips and Esther?
He must have questioned them."

"The deuce he did! I'll see to that I'll throttle them if they venture
to speak!" and summoning both the females to his presence, Mr. Cameron
demanded if either had reported what Wilford had said to them.

Except to each other they had not, though Phillips confessed to a great
desire to do so when a cousin was in the previous night.

"Hang the cousin, and you, too, if you do!" Mr. Cameron replied, and
giving them some very strong advice, couched in very strong language, he
dismissed the servants to the kitchen, satisfied that so far Katy was
safe. "But who is the villain who first informed? If I had him by the
neck!" the enraged man continued, just as there came a second ring--a
timid, hesitating ring, as if the new arrival were half afraid to
present himself and his errand.

"Speak of angels and you hear the rustle of their wings," is a proverb
as true and much pleasanter of thought than its opposite, and whether
Tom Tubbs were an angel or not, it was he who stood twirling his cap in
the hall, asking for Mrs. Cameron.

"She can't see you, but I'll take the message. Is it about my son?"
Father Cameron said, striding up to the boy, who began to wish himself
away.

Ever since inquiries had been made at the office for Wilford's
whereabouts, Tom had been uneasy, for he could not forget the savage
look in Wilford's face when he first told him of Katy and Dr. Grant; and
when he heard that instead of going to Yonkers Wilford had taken the
cars for Philadelphia, he was certain something was wrong, and longed to
confess to Katy what he knew of the matter. He had no idea of meddling,
but came with the kindest intentions, thinking he should feel better
when the load was off his mind. He was then poorly prepared for his
fierce reception from Mr. Cameron, who asked so energetically what he
had to say.

"It wasn't much," Tom began. "I only wanted to tell her maybe I was to
blame for repeating what I saw."

"What did you see?" and Mr. Cameron laid his hand on Tom's coat collar
as if to shake the information out of him.

But there was no need of this, for the frightened youth told quickly
what he had come to tell, seeming so sorry and appearing so hurt withal
that the elder Cameron grew very gracious, and dismissed him with the
conviction that Katy had nothing to fear from Tom Tubbs. Mrs. Cameron
was with her now, giving her kisses and words of sympathy, telling her
Wilford would come back, and adding that in any event no one could or
should blame her.

"I have heard the whole from husband; it was a misunderstanding, that is
all. Wilford was wrong to deceive you about Genevra. I was wrong to let
him; but we will have no more concealments. You think she is living
still--that she is Marian Hazelton?" and Mrs. Cameron smoothed Katy's
hair as she talked, trying to be motherly and kind, while her heart beat
more painfully at thoughts of a Genevra living than it ever had on
thoughts of a Genevra dead.

She did not doubt the story, although it seemed so strange, and it made
her faint as she wondered if the world would ever know and what it would
say if it did. That her husband would tell if she failed in a single
point she was sure, but she should not fail; she would swear Katy was
innocent of everything, if necessary, while Juno and Bell should swear
too. Of course they must know and she should tell them that very night,
she said to herself, and hence it was that in the gossip which followed
Wilford's disappearance not a word was breathed against Katy, whose
cause the family espoused so warmly. Bell and the father because they
really loved and pitied her, and Mrs. Cameron and Juno because it saved
them from the disgrace which would have fallen on Wilford had the
fashionable world known then of Genevra.

The sudden disappearance of a man like Wilford Cameron could not fail
even in New York to cause some excitement, especially in his own
immediate circle of acquaintances, and for several days the matter was
discussed in all its phases, and every possible opinion and conjecture
offered as to the cause of his strange conduct. Insanity! how many sins
it is made to cover, and how often is it pleaded for an excuse when no
other can be found. This is especially true in the higher walks of life,
and so in Wilford's case it was put forward, cautiously at first by Mrs.
Cameron herself, who wondered at the avidity with which the suggestion
was seized and handed from one to another, some remembering little
things which tended to confirm the belief, others slyly shrugging their
shoulders as they responded: "Very probable," but all tacitly allowing
the understanding to prevail that insanity had made Wilford Cameron a
voluntary wanderer from home. They could not believe in domestic
troubles when they saw how his family clung to and defended Katy from
the least approach of censure, Juno taking up her abode with her
"afflicted sister" until such time as Wilford could be heard from or
more definite arrangements be made; Mrs. Cameron driving around each day
to see her; Bell always speaking of her with genuine affection, while
the father clung to her like a hero, the quartet forming a barrier
across which the shafts of scandal could not reach.



CHAPTER XLIII.

WHAT FOLLOWED.


And where the while was Wilford? Fortunate, indeed, is it for the
disappointed, desperate men of the present day that when their horizon
is blackest and life seems not worth preserving, they can leave the past
behind and find a refuge in the army. To Wilford it presented itself at
once as the place of all others. Anything which could divert his mind
was welcome, and ere the close of that first day of Katy's return from
Yonkers, his name was enrolled in the service of his country. He had
gone directly to Washington, stumbling accidentally upon an old college
acquaintance who was getting up a company, and whose first lieutenant
had disappointed him. Learning Wilford's wishes he offered him the post,
which was readily accepted, and ere four days were gone Lieutenant
Wilford Cameron, with no regret as yet for the past, marched away to
swell the ranks of men who, led by General McClellan, were pressing on,
as they believed, to Richmond and victory. A week of terrible suspense
went by and then there came a note to Mr. Cameron from his son,
requesting him to care for Katy, but asking no forgiveness for himself.

"I have disgraced you all," he wrote, "and I know just how you feel, but
I am not sorry for the step I've taken. When I am I shall probably come
back, provided that day finds me alive."

And that was all the proud man wrote. Not one word was there for Katy,
whose eyes, which had not wept since she knew she was deserted, moved
slowly over the short letter, weighing every word, and then were lifted
sadly to her father's face as she said: "I will write and tell him all
the truth, and on his answer will depend my future course."

This she said referring to the question she had raised as to whether in
case Wilford did not come back she should remain in New York or go to
Silverton, where as yet they were ignorant of her affliction, for Uncle
Ephraim had not told of the telegram, and Katy would not alarm them
until she knew something definite.

And so the days went by, while Katy's letter was sent to Wilford,
together with another from his father, who confirmed all Katy had
protested of her innocence and ended by calling his son a "confounded
fool" and telling him to throw up his shoulder straps, which "only honest
men had a right to wear, and come home where he belonged."

To this there came an angry, indignant answer, bidding the father attend
to his own business, and allow the son to attend to his. To Katy,
however, Wilford wrote in a different strain, showing here and there
marks of tenderness and relenting, but saying what he had done could not
now be helped--he was in for a soldier's life of two years, and should
abide his choice. At the idea of Genevra's being alive he scoffed; he
knew better than that, and even if she were why need Katy have gone with
it to Morris. Surely she should have had the discretion to keep
something to herself.

This was the purport of Wilford's letter to Katy, who when she had
finished reading said, sorrowfully:

"Wilford never loved me. It was a mere fancy, a great mistake, and I
cannot stay in his home, knowing that I am not trusted and respected as
a wife should be. I will go to Silverton. There is room for me there. I
shall write to Helen to-day."

Meanwhile at Silverton, Uncle Ephraim, still keeping the telegram a
secret, grew more and more anxious as there came no news of Katy. What
did the silence mean? Uncle Ephraim pondered the matter all day long,
holding conversations with himself upon the subject, and finally making
up his mind to the herculean task of going to New York to see what was
the matter. To the family, who asked the reason of his sudden journey,
he said: He had a notion that something ailed Katy, and he was going
to see.

No one ever thought of opposing Uncle Ephraim, and the following day
found him ready for the journey Aunt Betsy had taken before him.

Presuming upon her experience as a traveler, that good dame had
proffered sundry pieces of advice with reference to what it was best for
him to do on the road, telling him which side of the car to sit, where
to get out, and above all things not to shake hands with the conductor
when asked for his ticket.

Uncle Ephraim heard her good-humoredly, and stuffing into his pocket the
paper of ginger-snaps, fried cakes and cheese, which Aunt Hannah had
prepared for his lunch, he started for the cars, and was soon on his way
to New York.

In his case there was no Bob Reynolds to offer aid and comfort, and the
old man was nearly torn in pieces by the burly hackman, who, the moment
he appeared to view, pounced upon him as lawful prey, each claiming the
honor of taking him wherever he wished to go, and raising such a din
about his ears that he finally turned away thoroughly disgusted, telling
them:

"He had feet and legs, and common sense, and he guessed he could find
his way without 'em. 'Bleeged to you, gentlemen, but I don't need you,"
and with a profound bow the honest-looking old deacon walked away,
asking the first man he met the way to Madison Square, and succeeded in
finding the number without difficulty.

"This is it," he said, stopping in front of the tall building, and
examining it closely from the roof to the basement.

Now that he was really there, a misgiving as to the propriety of the act
assailed him for the first time, and he began to wish he had not come.

"I won't pull that nub," he said, glancing at the silver knob. "I'll go
down to the kitchen door, as like enough they've company."

Accordingly Esther, who chanced to be in the basement, was startled by a
heavy knock, and was startled still more at the tall, white-haired man
who addressed her as "Sis," and asked if "Miss Cameron was to hum."

"A man in the kitchen asking for me!" Katy exclaimed, when Esther
reported the message, and with her mind full of possible news from
Wilford, she ran hastily down the basement stairs, and with a loud
scream of joy threw herself into Uncle Ephraim's arms, an act which so
astonished Phillips that she dropped the dish of soup she was preparing
for the dinner table, the greasy liquid bespattering Katy's dress, and
bringing her to a sense of where she was, and that she should not be
there.

"Come upstairs," she said, holding Uncle Ephraim's hand, and leading him
to the parlor, while the first tears she had shed since she knew she was
deserted rained in torrents over her face.

"What is it, Katy-did? I mistrusted something was wrong. What has
happened?" Uncle Ephraim asked, and with his arm thrown protectingly
around her, Katy told him what had happened, and then asking what she
should do.

"Do?" the old man repeated. "Go home with me to your own folks until he
comes from the wars. He is your husband, and I shall say nothing agin'
him, but if it was to do over I would forbid the banns. That chap has
misused you the wust way. You need not deny it, for it's writ all over
your face," he continued, as Katy tried to stop him, for sore as was her
heart with the great injustice done her, she would not have Wilford
blamed.

He was her husband still, and she had loved him so fondly that, whether
worthy or not of her love, she could not turn from him so soon.

"I wrote to Helen yesterday, so they will be prepared for me," she said,
anxious to change the conversation, and feeling glad when dinner was
announced.

Leading him to the table, she presented him to Juno, whose cold nod
and haughty stare were lost on the old man presiding with so much
patriarchal dignity at the table, and bowing his white head so
reverently as he asked the first blessing which had ever been said at
that table, except as Helen or Morris had breathed a prayer of thanks
for the bounty provided.

It had not been a house of prayer--no altar had been erected for the
morning and evening sacrifice. God had almost been forgotten, and now He
was pouring His wrath upon the handsome dwelling, making it so
distasteful that Katy was anxious to leave it, and expressed her
willingness to accompany Uncle Ephraim to Silverton as soon as the
necessary arrangements could be made.

"I don't take it she comes for good," Uncle Ephraim said that evening,
when Mr. Cameron, to whom she referred the matter, opposed her going,
"for when the two years are gone, and her man wants her back, as he
will, she must come, of course. But she grows poor here in the city. It
don't agree with her like the scent of the clover and the breeze from
the hills. So, shet up the house for a spell, and let the child come
with me."

Mr. Cameron knew that Katy would be happier at Silverton, and though he
disliked to part with her, he finally consented to her going, and placed
at her disposal a sum which seemed to the deacon a little fortune in
itself.

In the kitchen there were sad faces when the servants heard of the
arrangement which was to deprive them not only of a pleasant home, but
of a mistress whom they both respected and loved. Esther pleaded hard to
go with Katy, and only the latter's promise that possibly she might come
by and by was of any avail to stay the tears which dropped so fast as
she put up her mistress' dresses, designed for Silverton, and laid away
the gayer, richer ones, which would be so sadly out of place upon her
now.

To Mrs. Cameron and Juno it was a relief to have Katy taken from their
hands, and though they made a show of opposition, they were easily
quieted, and helped her off with alacrity, the mother promising to see
that the horse was promptly called for, and Juno offering to send the
latest fashion which might be suitable, as soon as it appeared. Bell was
heartily sorry to part with the young sister who seemed going from her
forever.

"I know you will never come back. Something tells me so," she said as
she stood with her arms around Katy's waist, and her lips occasionally
touching Katy's forehead. "But I shall see you," she continued; "I am
coming to the farmhouse in the summer, to stay ever so long; and you may
say to Aunt Betsy that I like her ever so much, and"--here Bell glanced
behind her, to see that no one was listening, and then continued--"tell
her a certain officer was sick a few days in a hospital last winter, and
one of his men brought to him a dish of the most delicious dried
peaches he ever ate. That man was from Silverton, and the fruit was sent
to him, he said, in a salt bag, by a nice old lady, for whose brother he
used to work. Just to think, that the peaches I helped to pare, coloring
my hands so that the stain did not come off in a month, should have gone
so straight to Bob," and Bell's fine features shone with a light which
would have told Bob Reynolds he was beloved, even if the lips did not
refuse to confess it.

"I'll tell her," Katy said, and then bidding them all good-by, and
putting her hand on Uncle Ephraim's arm she went with him from the home
where she had lived but two short years, and those the saddest, most
eventful ones of her short life.



CHAPTER XLIV.

MARK AND HELEN.


There was much talk and wonder in Silverton when it was known that Katy
had come home to stay until her husband returned from the war, and at
first the people were inclined to gossip and hint at some mystery or
possible estrangement; but this was brought to an end when the
postmaster's wife told of a letter which had come to Mrs. Wilford
Cameron from the Army of the Potomac, and of the answer returned within
three days to Lieutenant Wilford Cameron, Co., --th Regt., N. Y. V.,
etc. It must be all right, the gossips said, after that, but they
watched Katy curiously as she came among them again, so quiet, so
subdued, so unlike the Katy of old that they would hardly have
recognized her but for the beauty of her face and the sunny smile she
gave to all, but which rested oftenest on the poor and suffering, who
blessed her as the angel of their humble homes, praying that God would
remember her for all she was to them. The gold was purified at last, the
dross removed, and Katy, in her beautiful consistent life, seemed indeed
like some bright angel straying among the haunts of men, rather than the
weak and ofttimes sorely tempted mortal, which she knew herself to be.

Wilford's letters, though not unkind, were never very satisfactory, and
always brought on a racking headache, from which she suffered intently.
He had censured her at first for going back to Silverton, when he
preferred she should stay in New York, hinting darkly at the reason of
her choice, and saying to her once, when she told him how the Sunday
before her twenty-first birthday she had knelt before the altar and
taken upon herself the vows of confirmation: "Your saintly cousin is,
of course, delighted, and that I suppose is sufficient, without my
congratulations."

Perhaps he did not mean it, but he seemed to take delight in teasing
her, and Katy sometimes felt she should be happier without his letters
than with them. He had never said he was sorry he had left her so
suddenly--indeed he seldom referred to the past in any way; or if he did
it was in a manner which showed that he thought himself the injured
party, if either. Once, indeed, he did admit that, in calmly reviewing
the whole thing, he saw no reason now to believe that in the matter of
Dr. Grant she had been to blame, except in going to him with her trouble
and so bringing about the present unfortunate state of affairs. This was
the nearest to a concession on his part of anything he made; but it did
Katy a world of good, brightening up her face, and making her even dare
to meet Morris alone and speak to him naturally. Ever since her return
to Silverton she had studiously avoided him, and a stranger might have
said they were wholly indifferent to each other; but that stranger would
not have known of Morris' daily self-discipline or of the one little
spot in Katy's heart kept warm and sunny by the knowing that Morris
Grant had loved her, even if the love had died, as she hoped it had. It
would be better for them all, and so, lest by word or deed she should
keep the germ alive, she seldom addressed him directly, and never went
to Linwood unless some one was with her to prevent her being left with
him alone. A life like this could not be pleasant for Morris, and as
there seemed to be a lack of competent physicians in the army, he, after
prayerful deliberation, accepted a situation offered him as surgeon in a
Georgetown hospital, and early in June left Silverton for his new field
of labor.

True to her promise, Bell came at the last of July to Silverton,
proving herself a dreadful romp as she climbed over the rocks in Aunt
Betsy's famous sheep pasture, or raked the hay in the meadow, and
proving herself, too, a genuine woman, as with blanced cheek and anxious
heart she waited for tidings from the battles before Richmond, where the
tide of success seemed to turn, and the North, hitherto so jubilant and
hopeful, wore weeds of mourning from Maine to Oregon. Lieutenant Bob was
there, and Wilford, too; and so was Captain Ray, digging in the marshy
swamps, where death floated up in poisonous exhalations--plodding on the
weary march, and fighting all through the seven days, where the sun
poured down its burning heat and the night brought little rest. No
wonder, then, that the three faces at the farmhouse grew white with
anxiety, or that three pairs of eyes grew dim with watching the daily
papers. But the names of neither Wilford, Mark, nor Bob were ever found
among the wounded, dead, or missing, and with the fall of the first
autumn leaf Bell returned to the city, more puzzled, more perplexed than
ever with regard to Helen Lennox's real feelings toward Captain Ray.

Rapidly autumn went by, bringing at last the week before Christmas, when
Mark came home for a few days, looking ruddy and bronzed from exposure
and hardship, but wearing the disappointed, listless look which Bell was
quick to detect, connecting it in some way with Helen Lennox. Only once
did he call at Mr. Cameron's, and then as Juno was not present Bell had
him all to herself, talking a great deal of Silverton, of Helen and
Katy, in the latter of whom he seemed far more interested than in her
sister. Many questions he asked concerning Katy, expressing his regret
that Wilford had ever left her, and saying he believed Wilford was
sorry, too. He was in the hospital now, with a severe cold and a touch
of the rheumatism, he said; but as Bell knew this already she did not
dwell long upon that subject, choosing rather to talk of Helen--"as much
interested in the soldiers," she said, "as if she had a brother or a
lover in the army," and her bright eyes glanced meaningly at Mark, who
answered carelessly:

"Dr. Grant is there, you know, and that may account for her interest."

Mark knew he must say something to ward off Bell's attacks, and so he
continued talking of Dr. Grant and how much he was liked by the poor
wretches who needed some one as kind and gentle as he to keep them from
dying of homesickness if nothing else. Once, too, he spoke of a nurse, a
second Nightingale, whose shadow on the wall the soldiers had not kissed
perhaps, but who was worshiped by the pale, sick men to whom she
ministered so tenderly.

"She is very beautiful," he added, "and every man of us would willingly
try a hospital cot for the sake of being nursed by her."

Bell thought at once of Marian, but as Mark knew nothing of their
private affairs she would not question him, and after a few bantering
words concerning Lieutenant Bob and the picture he carried into every
battle, buttoned closely over his heart. Mark Ray took his leave, while
Bell, softened by thoughts of Cob, ran upstairs to cry, going to her
mother's room, as a seamstress was occupying her own. Mrs. Cameron was
out that afternoon, and that she had dressed in a hurry was indicated by
the unusual confusion of her room. Drawers were left open and various
articles scattered about, while on the floor just as it had fallen from
a glove box lay a letter which Bell picked up, intending to replace it.

"Miss Helen Lennox," she read in astonishment. "How came Helen Lennox's
letter here in mother's room, and from Mark Ray, too," she continued,
still more amazed as she took the neatly folded note from the envelope
and glanced at the name. "Foul play somewhere. Can it be mother?" she
asked, as she read enough to know that she held in her hand Mark's offer
of marriage which had in some mysterious manner found its way to her
mother's room. "I don't understand it at all," she said, racking her
brain for a solution of the mystery. "But the letter at least is safe
with me. I'll send it to Helen this very day and to-morrow I'll tell
Mark Ray."

Procrastination was not one of Bell Cameron's faults, and for full half
an hour before her mother and Juno came home, the stolen letter had been
lying in the mail box where Bell herself deposited it, together with a
few hurriedly written lines, telling how it came into her hands, but
offering no explanation of any kind.

"Mark is home now on a leave of absence which expires day after
to-morrow," she wrote, "but I am going around to see him, and if you
do not hear from him in person I am greatly mistaken."

Very closely Bell watched her mother when she came from her room, but
the letter had not been missed, and in blissful ignorance Mrs. Cameron
displayed her purchases and then talked of Wilford, wondering how he was
and if it were advisable for any of them to go to him.

The next day a series of hindrances kept Bell from making her call as
early as she had intended doing, so that Mrs. Banker and Mark were just
rising from dinner when told she was in the parlor.

"I meant to have come before," she said, seating herself by Mark, "but
I could not get away. I have brought you some good news. I think--that
is--yes, I know there has been some mistake, some wrong somewhere,
whether intended or not. Mark Ray," and the impetuous girl faced
directly toward him, "if you could have any wish you might name what
would it be? Come now, imagine yourself a Cinderella and I the fairy
godmother. What will you have?"

Mark knew she was in earnest and her manner puzzled him greatly, but he
answered, laughingly: "As a true patriot I should wish for peace on
strictly honorable terms."

"Pshaw!"

The word dropped very prettily from Bell's lips as with a shrug she
continued:

"You men are very patriotic, I know, especially if you wear shoulder
straps, but isn't there something dearer than peace? Suppose, for
instance, Union between the North and South on strictly honorable terms,
as you say, was laid upon one scale and union between yourself and Helen
Lennox was laid upon the other, which would you take?"

Mark's lips were very white now, but he tried to laugh as he replied: "I
should say the Union, of course."

"Yes, but which union?" Bell rejoined, and then as she saw that Mrs.
Banker was beginning to frown upon her she continued: "But to come
directly to the point. Yesterday afternoon I found--no matter where or
how--a letter intended for Helen Lennox, which I am positive she never
saw or heard of; at least her denial to me that a certain Mark Ray had
ever offered himself is a proof that she never saw what was an offer
made just before you went away. I read enough to know that, and then I
took the letter and--"

She hesitated, while Mark's eyes turned dark with excitement, and even
Mrs. Banker, scarcely less interested, leaned eagerly forward, saying:

"And what? Go on, Miss Cameron. What did you do with that letter?"

"I sent it to its rightful owner, Helen Lennox. I posted it myself, so
it's sure this time. But why don't you thank me, Captain Ray?" she
asked, as Mark's face was overshadowed with anxiety.

"I was wondering whether it were well to send it--wondering how it might
be received," he said, and Bell replied:

"She will not answer no. As one woman knows another I know Helen Lennox.
I have sounded her on that point. I told her of the rumor there was
afloat, and she denied it, seeming greatly distressed, but showing
plainly that had such offer been received she would not have refused it.
You should have seen her last summer, Captain Ray, when we waited so
anxiously for news from the Potomac. Her face was a study as her eyes
ran over the list of casualties, searching not for her amiable
brother-in-law, nor yet for Willard Braxton, their hired man. It was
plain to me as daylight, and all you have to do is to follow up that
letter with another, or go yourself, if you have time." Bell said, as
she arose to go, leaving Mark in a state of bewilderment as to what he
had heard.

Who withheld that letter? and why? were questions which troubled him
greatly, nor did his mother's assurance that it did not matter so long
as it all came right at last, tend wholly to reassure him. One thing,
however, was certain. He would see Helen before he returned to his
regiment--he would hear from her own lips what her answer would have
been had she received the letter. He would telegraph in the morning to
Washington, and then run the risk of being a day behind the time
appointed for his return to duty. Never since the day of Aunt Betsy's
revelations had Mark felt as light and happy as he did that night,
scarcely closing his eyes in sleep, but still not feeling tired when
next morning he met his mother at the breakfast table and disclosed in
part his plans. He would not tell her all there was in his mind lest it
should not be fulfilled, but when at parting with her he did say:

"Suppose you have three children when I return instead of two, is there
room in your heart for the third?"

"Yes, always room for Helen," was the reply, as with a kiss of
benediction Mrs. Banker sent her boy away.



CHAPTER XLV.

CHRISTMAS EVE AT SILVERTON.


There was to be a Christmas tree at St. John's, and all the week the
church had been the scene of much confusion. But all the work was over
now; the church was swept and dusted, the tree with its gay adornings
was in its place, the little ones, who, trying to help, had hindered and
vexed so much, were gone, as were their mothers, and only tarried with
the organ boy to play the Christmas carol, which Katy was to sing alone,
the children joining in the chorus as they had been trained to do. It
was very quiet there, and very pleasant too, with the fading sunlight
streaming through the chancel window, lighting up the cross above it,
and falling softly on the wall where the evergreens were hung with the
sacred words: "Peace on earth and good will toward men." And Helen felt
the peace stealing over her as by the register she sat down for a moment
ere going to the organ loft where the boy was waiting for her. Not even
the remembrance of the dark war cloud hanging over the land disturbed
her then, as her thoughts went backward eighteen hundred years to
Bethlehem's manger and the little child whose birth the angels sang. And
as she thought, that Child seemed to be with her, a living presence to
which she prayed, leaning her head upon the railing of the pew in front
and asking Him to keep her in the perfect peace she felt around her now.
She had given Mark Ray up, and giving up had made a cruel wound, but she
did not feel it now, although she thought of him in that quiet hour,
asking God to keep him in safety wherever he might be, whether in the
lonely watch or kneeling as she hoped he might in some house of God,
where the Christmas carols would be sung and the Christmas story told.

A movement of her hand as she lifted up her head struck against the
pocket of her dress, where lay the letter brought to her an hour or so
ago--Bell's letter--which, after glancing at the superscription, she had
put aside until a more convenient season for reading it.

Taking it out, she tore open the envelope, starting suddenly as another
letter, soiled and unsealed, met her eye. She read Bell's first, and
then, with a throbbing heart, which as yet would not believe, she took
up Mark's, and understanding now much that was before mysterious to her.
Juno's call, too, came to her mind, and though she was unwilling to
charge so foul a wrong upon that young lady, she could find no other
solution to the mystery. There was a glow of indignation--Helen had
scarcely been mortal without it; but that passed away in pity for the
misguided girl and in joy at the happiness opening so broadly before
her. That Mark would come to Silverton she had no hope, but he would
surely write--his letter, perhaps, was even then on the way; and kissing
the one she held she hid it in her bosom and went up to where the organ
boy had for several minutes been kicking at stools and books, and
whistling "Old John Brown" by way of attracting attention. The boy was
in a hurry, and asked in so forlorn a tone: "Is we going to play?" that
Helen answered good-humoredly: "Just a few minutes, Billy. I want to try
the carol and the opening, which I've hardly played at all."

With an air of submission Bill took his post and Helen began to play,
but she could only see before her: "I have loved you ever since that
morning when I put the lilies in your hair," and she played so out of
time and tune that Billy asked: "What makes 'em go so bad?"

"I can't play now; I'm not in the mood," she said at last. "I shall
feel better by and by. You can go home if you like."

Billy needed no second bidding, but catching up his cap ran down the
stairs and out into the porch, just as up the step a young man came
hurriedly, the horse he had hitched to a tree smoking from exercise and
himself looking eager and excited.

"Hello, boy," he cried, grasping the collar of Bill's roundabout and
holding him fast, "who's in the church?"

"Darn yer, old Jim Sykes, you let me be, or I'll--" the boy began, but
when he saw his captor was not Jim Sykes, but a tall, fine-looking man,
wearing a soldier's uniform, he changed his tone, and standing still,
answered civilly: "I thought you was Jim Sykes, the biggest bully in
town, who is allus hectorin' us boys. Nobody is there but she--Miss
Lennox--up where the organ is," and having given the desired
information, Bill ran off, wondering first if it wasn't Miss Helen's
beau, and wondering next, in case she should some time get married in
church, if he wouldn't fee the organ boy as well as the sexton. "He
orto," Bill soliloquized, "for I've about blowed my gizzard out
sometimes, when she and Mrs. Cameron sings the 'Te Deum.'"

Meanwhile Mark Ray, who had driven first to the farmhouse in quest of
Helen, entered the church, glancing in upon the festooned walls, and
then as he heard a sound in the loft, stealing noiselessly up the stairs
to where Helen sat in the dim light, reading again the precious letter
withheld from her so long. She had moved her stool near to the window,
and her back was toward the door, so that she neither saw nor heard, nor
suspected anything, until Mark, bending over her so as to see what she
had in her hand, as well as the tear she had dropped upon it, clasped
both his arms about her neck, and drawing her face over back, kissed her
fondly, calling her his darling, and saying to her as she tried to
struggle from him:

"I know I have a right to call you darling by that tear on my letter and
the look upon your face. Dear Helen, we have found each other at last."

It was so unexpected that Helen could not speak, but she let her head
rest on his bosom, where he had laid it, and her hot, trembling hand
crept into his, so that he was answered, and for a moment he only kissed
and caressed the fair girl he knew now was his own. They could not talk
together there very long, for Helen must go home; but he made good use
of the time he had, telling her many things, and then asking her a
question which made her start away from him as she replied: "No, no, oh!
no, not to-night--not so soon as that!"

"And why not, Helen?" he asked, with the manner of one who is not to be
denied. "Why not to-night, so there need be no more misunderstanding?
I'd rather leave you as my wife than my betrothed. Mother will like it
better. I hinted it to her and she said there was room for you in her
love. It will make me a better man, a better soldier, if I can say 'my
wife,' as other soldiers do. You don't know what a charm there is in
that word, Helen--keeping a man from sin, and if I should die I would
rather you should bear my name and share in my fortune. Will you, Helen,
when the ceremonies are closed, will you go up to that altar and pledge
your vows to me? I cannot wait till to-morrow; my leave of absence
expired to-day. I must go back to-night, but you must first be mine."

Helen was shaking as with a chill, but she made him no reply, and
wrapping her cloak and furs about her, Mark led her down to the sleigh,
and taking his seat beside her, drove back to the farmhouse, where the
supper waited for her. Katy, to whom Mark first communicated his desire,
warmly espoused his cause, and that went far toward reassuring Helen,
who, for some time past had been learning to look up to Katy as to an
older sister, so sober, so earnest, so womanly had Katy grown since
Wilford went away.

"It is so sudden, and people will talk," Helen said, knowing while she
said it how little she cared for people and smiling at Katy's reply:

"They may as well talk about you a while as me. It is not so bad when
once you are used to it."

After Katy, Aunt Betsy was Mark's best advocate. It is true this was not
just what she had expected when Helen was married. The "infair" which
Wilford had declined was still in Aunt Betsy's mind; but that, she
reflected might be yet. If Mark went back on the next train there could
be no proper wedding party until his return, when the loaves of frosted
cake, and the baked fowls she had seen in imagination should be there in
real, tangible form, and as she expressed it they would have a "high."
Accordingly she threw herself into the scale beginning to balance in
favor of Mark, and when at last old Whitey stood at the door ready to
take the family to the church, Helen sat upon the lounge listening half
bewildered, while Katy assured her that she could play the voluntary,
even if she had not looked at it, that she could lead the children
without the organ, and in short do everything Helen was expected to do
except go to the altar with Mark.

"That I leave for you," and she playfully kissed Helen's forehead, as
she tripped from the room, looking back when she reached the door, and
charging the lovers not to forget to come, in their absorption of each
other.

St. John's was crowded that night, just as churches always are on such
occasions, the children occupying the front seats, with looks of
expectancy upon their faces, as they studied the heavily laden tree, the
boys wondering if that ball, or whistle, or wheelbarrow was for them,
and the girls appropriating the tastefully dressed dolls, showing so
conspicuously among the dark-green foliage. The Barlows were rather
late, for upon Uncle Ephraim devolved the duty of seeing to the license,
and as he had no seat in that house, his arrival was only known by Aunt
Betsy's elbowing her way to the front, and near to the Christmas tree
which she had helped to dress, just as she had helped to trim the
church. She did not believe in such "flummmeries" it is true, and she
classed them with the "quirks," but rather than "see the gals slave
themselves to death," she had this year lent a helping hand. Donning two
shawls, a camlet cloak, a knit scarf for her head, and a hood to keep
from catching cold, she had worked early and late, fashioning the most
wonderfully shaped wreaths, tying up festoons, and even trying her hand
at a triangle; but turning her back resolutely upon crosses, which were
more than her Puritanism could endure. The cross was a "quirk," with
which she'd have nothing to do, though once, when Katy seemed more than
usually bothered and wished somebody would hand her tacks. Aunt Betsy
relented so far as to bring the hoop she was winding close to Katy,
holding the little nails in her mouth, and giving them out as they were
wanted; but with each one given out, conscientiously turning her head
away, lest her eyes should fall upon what she conceived the symbol of
the Romish Church. But when the whole was done, none were louder in
their praises than the good Aunt Betsy, who was guilty of asking Mrs.
Deacon Bannister when she came in to inspect, "why the orthodox couldn't
get up some such doin's for their Sunday school. It pleased the children
mightily."

But Mrs. Deacon Bannister answered with some severity:

"We don't believe in shows and plays, you know," thus giving a double
thrust, and showing that the opera had never been quite forgotten.
"Here's a pair of skates, though, and a smellin' bottle. I'd like to
have put on for John and Sylvia," she added, handing her package to Aunt
Betsy, who, while seeing the skates and smelling bottle suspended from a
bough, was guilty of wondering if "the partaker wasn't most as bad as
the thief."

This was in the afternoon and was all forgotten now, when with her
Sunday clothes she never would have worn in that jam but for the great
occasion, Aunt Betsy elbowed her way up the middle aisle, her face
wearing a very important and knowing look, especially when Uncle
Ephraim's tall figure bent for a moment under the hemlock boughs, and
then disappeared in the little vestry room where he held a private
consultation with the rector. That she knew something her neighbors
didn't was evident. But she kept it to herself, turning her head
occasionally to look up at the organ where Katy was presiding. Others,
too, there were who turned their heads as the soft liquid music began to
fill the church, and the heavy bass rolled up the aisles, making the
floor tremble beneath their feet and sending a thrill through every
vein. It was a skillful hand which swept the keys that night, for Katy's
forte was music, and she played with her whole soul, not the voluntary
there before her in printed form, nor any one thing she had ever heard,
but taking parts of many things, and mingling them with strains of her
own improvising, she filled the house as it had never been filled
before, playing a soft, sweet refrain when she thought of Helen, then
bursting into louder, fuller tones, when she remembered Bethlehem's
child and the song the angels sang, and then as she recalled her own
sacrifice since she knelt at the altar a happy bride, the organ notes
seemed much like human sobs, now rising to a stormy pitch of passion,
wild and uncontrolled, and then dying out as dies the summer wind after
a fearful storm. Awed and wonderstruck the organ boy looked at Katy as
she played, almost forgetting his part of the performance in his
amazement, and saying to himself when she had finished:

"Guy, though, ain't she a brick," and whispering to her: "Didn't we go
that strong?"

Katy knew she had made an impression, and her cheeks were very red as
she went down to the body of the church, joining the children with whom
she was to sing, but she soon forgot herself in the happiness of the
little ones, who could scarcely be controlled until the short service
was over and the gifts about to be distributed. Much the people had
wondered where Helen was, as, without the aid of music, Katy led the
children in their carols, and this wonder increased when as time passed
on it was whispered around that "Miss Lennox had come and was standing
with a man back by the register."

After this Aunt Betsy grew very calm. She knew Helen was there and could
now enjoy the distributing of the gifts, going up herself two or three
times, and wondering why anybody should think of her, a good-for-nothing
old woman. The skates and the smelling bottles both went safely to
Sylvia and John, while Mrs. Deacon Bannister looked radiant when her
name was called and she was made the recipient of a jar of butternut
pickles, such as only Aunt Betsy Barlow could make.

"Miss Helen Lennox. A soldier in uniform, from one of her Sunday school
scholars."

The words rang out loud and clear, the rector holding up the sugar toy
before the amused audience, who turned to look at Helen, blushing so
painfully, and trying to hold back the real man in soldier's dress who
went quietly up the aisle, receiving the gift with a bow and smile
which turned the heads of half the ladies near him, and then went back
to Helen, over whom he bent, whispering something which made her cheeks
grow brighter than they were before, while she dropped her eyes
modestly.

"Who is he?" a woman asked, touching Aunt Betsy's shoulder.

"Captain Ray, from New York," was the answer, as Aunt Betsy gave to her
dress a little broader sweep and smoothed the bow she had tried to tie
beneath her chin just as Mattie Tubbs had tied it on the memorable opera
night.

"Miss Helen Lennox. A sugar heart, from one of her scholars," the rector
called again, the titters of the audience almost breaking into cheers as
they began to suspect the relation sustained to Helen by the handsome
young officer, going up the aisle after Helen's heart and stopping to
speak to good Aunt Betsy, who pulled his coat skirt as he passed her.

The tree by this time was nearly empty. Every child had been remembered,
save one, and that Billy, the organ boy, who, separated from his
companions, stood near Helen, watching the tree wistfully, while shadows
of hope and disappointment passed alternately over his face as one after
another the presents were distributed and nothing came to him.

"There ain't a darned thing on it for me," he exclaimed at last, when
boy nature could endure no longer, and Mark turned toward him just in
time to see the gathering mist which but for the most heroic efforts
would have merged into tears.

"Poor Billy," Helen said, as she too heard his comment, "I fear he has
been forgotten. His teacher is absent and he so faithful at the organ
too."

Mark knew now who the boy was and after a hurried consultation with
Helen, who knowing Billy well, suggested that money would probably be
more acceptable than even skates or jackknives, neither of which were
possible now, folded something in a bit of paper, on which he wrote a
name and then sent it to the rector.

"Billy Brown, our faithful organ boy," sounded through the church, and
with a brightened face Billy went up the aisle and received the little
package, ascertaining before he reached his standpoint near the door
that he was the owner of a five-dollar bill, and mentally deciding to
add both peanuts and molasses candy to the stock of apples he daily
carried into the cars.

"You gin me this," he said, nodding to Mark, "and you," turning to
Helen, "poked him up to it."

"Well then, if I did," Mark replied, laying his hand on the boy's coarse
hair, "if I did, you must take good care of Miss Lennox when I am gone.
I leave her in your charge. She is to be my wife."

"Gorry, I thought so," and Bill's cap went toward the plastering just as
the last string of popcorn was given from the tree, and the exercises
were about to close.

It was not in Aunt Betsy's nature to keep her secret till this time, and
simultaneously with Billy's going up for his gift she whispered it to
her neighbor, who whispered it to hers, until nearly all the audience
knew of it, and kept their seats after the benediction was pronounced.

At a sign from the rector, Katy went with her mother to the altar,
followed by Uncle Ephraim, his wife, and Aunt Betsy, while Helen,
throwing off the cloud she had worn upon her head, and giving it, with
her cloak and fur, into Billy's charge, took Mark's offered arm, and
with beating heart and burning cheeks passed between the sea of eyes
fixed so curiously upon her, up to where Katy once had stood on the June
morning when she had been the bride. Not now, as then, were aching
hearts present at that bridal. No Marian Hazelton fainted by the door;
no Morris felt the world grow dark and desolate as the marriage vows
were spoken; and no sister doubted if it were all right and would end in
happiness. Only Katy seemed sad as she recalled the past, praying that
Helen's life might not be like hers.

The ceremony lasted but a few moments, and then the astonished audience
pressed around the bride, offering their kindly congratulations, and
proving to Mark Ray that the bride he had won was dear to others as well
as to himself. Lovingly he drew her hand beneath his arm, fondly he
looked down upon her as he led her back to her chair by the register,
making her sit down while he tied on her cloak and adjusted the fur
about her neck.

"Handy and gentle as a woman," was the verdict pronounced upon him by
the female portion of the congregation as they passed out into the
street, talking of the ceremony, and contrasting Helen's husband with
the haughty Wilford, who was not a favorite with them.

It was Billy Brown who brought Mark's cutter around, holding the reins
while Mark helped Helen, and then tucking the buffalo robes about her
with the remark: "It's all-fired cold, Miss Ray. Shall you play in
church to-morrow?"

Assured that she would, Billy walked away, and Mark was alone with his
bride, slowly following the deacon's sleigh, which reached the farmhouse
a long time before the little cutter, so that a fire was already kindled
in the parlor when Helen arrived, and also in the kitchen stove, where
the teakettle was placed, for Aunt Betsy said "the chap should have some
supper before he went back to York."

Four hours he had to stay, and they were well spent in talking of
himself, of Wilford, and of Morris, and in planning Helen's future. Of
course she would spend a portion of her time at the farmhouse, he said,
but his mother had a claim upon her, and it was his wish that she should
be in New York as much as possible.

"Now that you have Mrs. Cameron, you do not need my wife," he said to
Mrs. Lennox, with an emphasis upon the last word, which he seemed very
fond of using.

Much he wished to stay with the wife so lately his, but as that could
not be, he asked at last that she go with him to Washington. It might be
some days before his regiment was ordered to the front, and in that time
they could enjoy so much. But Helen knew it would not be best, and so
she declined, promising, however, to come to him whenever he should need
her.

Swiftly now the last moments went by, and a "Merry Christmas" was said
by one and another as they took their seats at the plentiful repast Aunt
Betsy had provided, Mark feasting more on Helen's face than on the
viands spread before him. It was hard for him to leave her, hard for her
to let him go, but the duty was imperative, and so when at last the
frosty air grew keener as the small hours of night crept on, he stood
with his arms about her, nor thought it unworthy of a soldier that his
own tears mingled with hers as he bade her good-by, kissing her again
and again, and calling her his precious wife, whose memory would make
his camp-life brighter and shorten the days of absence. There was no one
with them when at last Mark's horse dashed from the yard over the
creaking snow, leaving Helen alone upon the doorstep, with the
glittering stars shining above her head and her husband's farewell kiss
wet upon her lips.

"When shall we meet again?" she sobbed, gazing up at the clear blue sky,
as if to find the answer there.

But only the December wind sweeping down from the steep hillside, and
blowing across her forehead, made reply to that questioning, as she
waited till the last faint sound of Mark Ray's bells died away in the
distance, and then shivering with cold re-entered the farmhouse.



CHAPTER XLVI.

AFTER CHRISTMAS EVE.


Merrily rang the bells next day, the sexton deeming it his duty to send
forth a merry peal in honor of the bride whose husband had remembered
his boy so liberally. But Helen's heart was very sad as she met the
smiling faces of her friends, and Mark had never been prayed for more
earnestly than on that Christmas morning, when Helen knelt at the altar
rail and received the sacred symbols of a Savior's dying love, asking
that God would keep the soldier husband, hastening on to New York, and
from thence to Washington. Much the Silvertonians discussed the wedding,
nor were these discussions likely to be shortened by the arrival of
Mattie Tubbs and Tom, who came by the express from New York, both
surprised at what they heard, and both loud in their praises of Captain
Ray, "the best and kindest man that ever lived," Tom said, while Mattie
told fabulous stories of his wealth. Had Helen been the queen she could
hardly have been stared at more curiously than she was that Christmas
day, when late in the afternoon she drove through the town with Katy,
the villagers looking admiringly after her, noting the tie of her
bonnet, the arrangement of her face trimmings, and discovering in both a
style and fitness they had never discovered before. As the wife of Mark
Ray Helen became suddenly a heroine, in whose presence poor Katy
subsided completely, nor was the interest at all diminished when two
days later Mrs. Banker came to Silverton and was met at the depot by
Helen, whom she hugged affectionately, calling her "my dear daughter,"
and holding her hand all the way to the covered sleigh waiting there for
her. Further than that the curious ones could not follow, and so they
did not know how on the road to the farmhouse Mrs. Banker expressed her
approbation of what her boy had done, acknowledged her own unjust
suspicions, asking pardon for them, and receiving it in the warm kiss
Helen pressed upon her offered hand. Mrs. Banker was very fond of Helen,
and not even the sight of the farmhouse, with its unpolished inmates,
awakened a feeling of regret that her only son had not looked higher for
a wife. She was satisfied with her new daughter, and insisted upon
taking her back to New York.

"I am very lonely now, lonelier than you can possibly be," she said
to Mrs. Lennox, "and you will not refuse her to me for a few weeks at
least. It will do us both good, and make the time of Mark's absence so
much shorter."

"Yes, mother, let Helen go. I will try to fill her place," Katy said,
though while she said it her heart throbbed with pain and dread as she
thought how desolate she should be without her sister.

But it was right, and Katy urged Helen's going, thinking how the tables
were turned since the day when she had been the happy bride to whom
good-bys were said, instead of the wounded, sore-hearted sister left
behind, bearing up bravely so long as Helen was in sight, but shedding
bitter tears when at last she was gone, tears which were only stayed by
kind old Uncle Ephraim offering to take her to the little grave, where,
from experience, he knew she always found rest and peace. The winter
snows were on it now, but Katy, looking at it from the sleigh in which
she sat, knew just where the daisies were, and the blue violets which
with the spring would bloom again, feeling comforted as she thought of
that eternal spring in the bright world above, where her child had
gone. And so that night, when they gathered again around the fire in the
pleasant little parlor, the mother and the old people did not miss Helen
half so much as they should, for Katy sang her sweetest songs and wore
her sunniest smile, while she told them of Helen's new home, and then
talked of whatever else she thought would interest and please them.

"Little Sunbeam," Uncle Ephraim called her now, instead of "Katy-did,"
and in his prayer that first night of Helen's absence he asked, in his
touching way, "that God would bless his little Sunbeam, and not let her
grow tired of living there alone with folks so odd and old."

       *       *       *       *       *

"MARRIED--On Christmas Eve, at St. John's Church, Silverton, Mass., by
Rev. Mr. Kelly, Captain MARK RAY, of the --th Regiment, N.Y.S.V., to
Miss HELEN LENNOX, of Silverton."

Such was the announcement which appeared in several of the New York
papers two days after Christmas, and such the announcement which Bell
Cameron read at the breakfast table on the morning of the day when Mrs.
Banker started for Silverton.

"Here is something which will perhaps interest you," she said, passing
the paper to Juno who had come down late, and was looking cross and
jaded from the effects of last night's dissipation.

Taking the paper from her sister's hand, Juno glanced carelessly at
the paragraph indicated by Bell; then, as she caught Mark's name, she
glanced again with a startled, incredulous look, her cheeks and lips
turning white as she read that Mark Ray was lost to her forever, and
that in spite of the stolen letter Helen Lennox was his wife.

"What is it, Juno?" Mrs. Cameron asked, noticing her daughter's
agitation.

Juno told her what it was, handing her the paper and letting her read it
for herself.

"Impossible! there is some mistake! How was it brought about?" she
continued, darting a curious glance at Bell, whose face betrayed nothing
as she leisurely sipped her coffee, and remarked: "I always thought it
would come to this, for I knew he liked her. It is a splendid match."

Whatever Juno thought she kept it to herself, just as she kept her room
the entire day, suffering from a racking headache, and ordering the
curtains to be dropped, as the light hurt her eyes, she said to Bell,
who, really pitying her now, never suggested that the darkened room was
more to hide her tears than to save her eyes, and who sent away all
callers with the message that Juno was sick--all but Sybil Grandon, who
insisted so hard upon seeing her dear friend that she was admitted to
Juno's room, talking at once of the wedding, and making every one of
Juno's nerves quiver with pain as she descanted upon the splendid match
it was for Helen, or indeed for any girl.

"I had given you to him," she said, "but I see I was mistaken. It was
Helen he preferred, unless you jilted him, as perhaps you did."

Here was a temptation Juno could not resist, and she replied, haughtily:

"I am not one to boast of conquests, but ask Captain Ray himself if you
wish to know why I did not marry him."

Sybil Grandon was not deceived, but she good-naturedly suffered that
young lady to hope she was, and answered, laughingly: "I can't say I
honor your judgment in refusing him, but you know best. However, I trust
that will not prevent your friendly advances toward his bride. Mrs.
Banker has gone after her, I understand, and I want you to call with me
as soon as convenient. Mrs. Mark Ray will be the belle of the season,
depend upon it," and gathering up her furs Mrs. Grandon kissed Juno
affectionately and then swept from the room.

That Mrs. Cameron had hunted for and failed to find the stolen letter,
and that she associated its disappearance with Mark Ray's sudden
marriage, Bell was very sure, from the dark, anxious look upon her face
when she came from her room, whither she had repaired immediately after
breakfast, but whatever her suspicions were they did not find form in
words. Mark was lost. It was too late to help that now, and as a politic
woman of the world, Mrs. Cameron decided to let the matter rest, and by
patronizing the young bride prove that she had never thought of Mark
Ray for her son-in-law. Hence it was that the Cameron carriage and the
Grandon carriage stood together before Mrs. Banker's door, while the
ladies who had come in the carriages paid their respects to Mrs. Ray,
rallying her upon the march she had stolen upon them, telling her how
delighted they were to have her back again, and hoping they should see a
great deal of each other during the coming winter.

"You know we are related," Juno said, holding Helen's hand a long time
at parting, ostensibly to show how very friendly she felt, but really to
examine and calculate the probable value of the superb diamond which
shone on Helen's finger, Mark's first gift, left for her with his
mother, who had presented it for him.

"As diamonds are now, that never cost less than four or five hundred
dollars," Juno said, as she was discussing the matter with Bell, and
telling her that Helen had the ring they had admired so much at
Tiffany's the last time they were there, and then her spiteful, envious
nature found vent in the remark: "I wonder at Mark's taste when only
shoddy buy diamonds now."

"Why, then, did you torment father into buying that little pin for you
the other day?" Bell asked, and Juno replied:

"I have always been accustomed to diamonds and that is a very different
thing from Helen Lennox putting them on. Did you notice how red and fat
her fingers were, and rough, too? Positively her hand felt like a nutmeg
grater."

"You know the fable of the fox and the grapes," Bell said, her gray eyes
flashing indignantly upon her sister, who, wisely forbore further
remarks upon Helen's hands and contented herself with wondering if
people generally would take up Mrs. Ray and honor her as they once did
Katy.

"Of course they will," she said. "It's like heaps of them to do it," and
in this conclusion she was not wrong, for those who had liked Helen
Lennox did not find her less desirable now that she was Helen Ray, and
numberless were the attentions bestowed upon her and the invitations she
received.

But with few exceptions Helen declined the latter, feeling that,
circumstanced as she was, with her husband in so much danger, it was
better not to mingle much in gay society. She was very happy with Mrs.
Banker, who petted and caressed and loved her almost as much as if she
had been an own daughter. Mark's letters, too, which came nearly every
day, were bright sun spots in her existence, so full were they of tender
love and kind thoughtfulness for her. He was very happy, he wrote, in
knowing that at home there was a dear little brown-haired wife, waiting
and praying for him, and but for the separation from her was well
content now with a soldier's life. Once when he was stationed for a
longer time than usual at some point Helen thought seriously of going to
him for a week or more, but the project was prevented by the sudden
arrival in New York of Katy, who came one night to Mrs. Banker's, her
face as white as ashes, and a strange, wild expression in her eyes as
she said to Helen:

"I am going to Wilford. He is dying. He has sent for me. I ought to go
on to-night, but cannot, my head aches so," and pressing both her hands
upon her head Katy sank fainting into Helen's arms.



CHAPTER XLVII.

GEORGETOWN HOSPITAL.


"GEORGETOWN, February --, 1862.

"MRS. WILFORD CAMERON:

"Your husband cannot live long. Come immediately.

"M. HAZELTON."

So read the telegram received by Katy one winter morning, when her eyes
were swollen with weeping over Morris' letter, which had come the
previous night, telling her how circumstances which seemed providential
had led him to the hospital where her husband was, and where, too, was
Marian Hazelton.

"I did not think it advisable to visit your husband at first," he wrote,
"while Miss Hazelton, who had recently been transferred to this
hospital, also kept out of the way. Nor was it necessary that either of
us should minister to him there, for he was not thought very ill. 'Only
a slight touch of rheumatism, and a low, nervous fever,' said the
attending physician, of whom I inquired. Latterly, however, the fever
has increased to a fearful extent, seating itself upon the brain, so
that he knows neither myself nor Miss Hazelton, both of whom are with
him. She, because she would be here where she heard of danger, and I
because his case was given into my charge. So I am with him now, writing
by his side, while he lies sleeping quietly, and Miss Hazelton bends
over him, bathing his burning head. He does not know her, but he talks
of Katy, who he says is dead and buried across the sea. Will you come to
him, Katy? Your presence may save his life. Telegraph when you leave New
York, and I will meet you at the depot."

It is not strange that this letter, followed so soon by the telegram
from Marian, should crush one as delicate as Katy, or that for a few
minutes she should have been stunned with the shock, so as neither to
feel nor think. But the reaction came soon enough, bringing with it only
the remembrance of Wilford's love. All the wrong, the harshness, was
forgotten, and only the desire remained to fly at once to Wilford,
talking of her in his delirium. Bravely she kept up until New York was
reached, but once where Helen was, the tension of her nerves gave way,
and she fainted, so we have seen.

At Father Cameron's that night there were troubled, anxious faces, for
they, too, had heard of Wilford's danger. But the mother could not go to
him. A lung difficulty, to which she was subject, had confined her to
the house for many days, and so it was the father and Bell who made
their hasty preparations for the hurried journey to Georgetown. They
heard of Katy's arrival and Bell came at once to see her.

"She will not be able to join us to-morrow," was the report Bell carried
home, for she saw more than mere exhaustion from fatigue and fainting in
the white face lying so motionless on Helen's pillow, with the dark
rings about the eyes, and the quiver of the muscles about the mouth.

The morrow found that Bell was right, for Katy could not rise, but lay
like some crushed flower still on Helen's bed, moaning softly:

"It is very hard, but God knows best."

"Yes, darling, God knows best," Helen answered, smoothing the bright
hair, and thinking sadly of the young officer sitting by his camp-fire,
and waiting so eagerly for the bride who could not go to him now. "God
knows what is best, and does all for the best."

Katy said it many times that long, long week, during which she stayed an
invalid in Helen's room, living from day to day upon the letters sent by
Bell, who had gone on to Georgetown with her father, and who gave but
little hope that Wilford would recover. Not a word did she say of
Marian, and only twice did she mention Morris, so that when at last Katy
was strong enough to venture on the journey, she had but little idea of
what had transpired in Wilford's sickroom.

       *       *       *       *       *

Those were sad, weary days which Wilford first passed upon his hospital
cot, and as he was not sick but crippled, he had ample time for
reviewing the past, which came up before his mind as vividly as if he
had been living again the scenes of bygone days. Of Katy he thought
continually, blaming himself much, but so strong was his pride and
selfishness, blaming her more for the trouble which had come upon them.
Why need she have taken the Genevra matter so to heart, going with it to
Morris and so bringing him into his present disagreeable situation. He
did not mean to be unjust or unkind toward Katy, but he looked upon her
as the direct cause of his being where he was. Had she never been seen
in the cars with Morris, he should not have left home as he did, and
might anticipate going back without a flush of shame and a dread of
meeting old friends, who would think less of him than they used to do. A
thousand times Wilford had repented of his rashness, but never by a word
had he admitted such repentance to any living being, and when on the
dark, rainy afternoon which first saw him in the hospital, he turned his
face to the wall and wept, he replied to one who said to him soothingly:

"Don't feel badly, my young friend. We will take as good care of you
here as if you were at home."

"It's the pain which brings the tears. I'd as soon be here as at home."

Gradually, however, there came a change, and Wilford grew softer in his
feelings, longing for home, or for the sight of a familiar face, and
half resolving more than once to send for Katy, who had offered to come,
and to whom he had replied: "It is not necessary." But as often as he
resolved his evil genius whispered: "She does not care to come here,"
and so the message was never sent, while the longing for home faces
brought on a nervous fever, which made him so irritable that his
attendants sometimes turned from him in disgust, thinking him the most
unreasonable man they had ever met. Once he dreamed Genevra was
there--that she came to him just as she was in her beautiful
girlhood--that her fingers threaded his hair as they used to do in their
happy days at Brighton--that her hand was on his brow, her breath upon
his face, and with a start he awoke just as the rustle of female
garments died away in the hall.

"The new nurse in the second ward has been in here," a comrade said.
"She seemed specially interested in you, and if she had not been a
stranger I should have said she was crying over you."

With a quick, sudden movement Wilford put his hand to his cheek, where
there was a tear, either his own or that of the "new nurse," who had so
recently bent over him. Retaining the same proud reserve which had
characterized his whole life, he asked no questions, but listened
intently to what his sick companions were saying of the beauty and
tenderness of the young girl, they called her, who had glided for a few
moments into their presence, winning their hearts in that short space of
time, and making them wish she would come back again. Wilford wished so
too, conjuring up all sorts of conjectures about the unknown nurse, and
once going so far as to fancy it was Katy herself. But this idea was
soon dismissed. Katy would hardly venture there as a nurse, and if she
did she would not keep aloof from him. It was not Katy, and if not, who
was it that twice when he was sleeping came and looked at him, his
comrades said, rallying him upon the conquest he had made, and so
exciting his imagination that the fever which at first was hardly
observable began to increase, and the blood throbbed hotly through his
veins, while his brows were knit together with thoughts of the
mysterious stranger. Then with a great shock it occurred to him that
Katy had affirmed:

"Genevra is alive, I have seen her. I recognized the picture at once."

What if it were so, and this nurse was Genevra? The very thought fired
Wilford's brain, and when next his physician came he looked with some
alarm upon the great change for the worse exhibited by his patient. That
surgeon's forte was more in dressing ghastly wounds than in subduing
fever, and as he held Wilford's hand, he said:

"You have a fever, my friend, and it is increasing fast. Perhaps you
would like to see our new physician, Dr. Grant. He is great on fevers."

"Dr. Grant--Dr. Morris Grant?" Wilford exclaimed, starting up in bed
with a fierce energy which surprised the surgeon.

"Yes, Dr. Morris Grant, from Massachusetts," the latter replied, his
surprise increasing when Wilford rejoined:

"Send Satan himself sooner than he. I hate him."

The words dropped hissingly from the firmly set teeth, and Wilford fell
back upon his pillow, exhausted with excitement and anger that Morris
Grant should be there in the same building and offered as his physician.

"Never while my reason lasts," he whispered to himself, with hatred of
Morris growing more intense with every beat of his wiry pulse.

Wilford was very sick, and when next the surgeon came around he knew by
the bright, restless eyes that reason was tottering.

"Shall I send for your friends?" he asked, and Wilford answered,
savagely:

"I have no friends--none, at least, but what will be glad to know I'm
dead."

And that was the last, except the wild words of a maniac, which came
from Wilford's lips for many a day and night. When they said he was
dangerous, Marian Hazelton the "new nurse," sought and obtained
permission to attend him, and again the eyes of the other occupants of
the room were turned wonderingly toward her as she bent over the sick
man, parting his matted hair, smoothing his tumbled pillow, and holding
the cooling draught to the parched lips which muttered strange things in
her ear, talking of Brighton, of Alnwick and Rome--of the heather on the
Scottish moors, and the daisies on Genevra's grave, where Katy once sat
down.

"She did not know Genevra was there," he said. "She never guessed there
was a Genevra; but I knew, and I felt almost as if the dead were wronged
by that act of Katy's. Do you know Katy?" and his black eyes fastened
upon Marian, who, with the strange power she possessed over her
patients, soothed him into quiet, while she told him she knew Katy, and
talked to him of her, telling of her graceful beauty, her loving heart,
and the sorrow she would feel when she heard how sick he was.

"Shall I send for her?" she asked, but Wilford answered:

"No, I am satisfied with you," and holding her hand he fell away to
sleep.

This was the first day of her being with him, but there were other days
when he was not so quiet, when all her strength and that of Morris, who,
at her earnest solicitation, came to her aid, was required to keep him
on his bed. He was going home, he said, going back to Katy's; he had
punished her long enough, and like a giant he writhed under a force
superior to his own, and which held him down and controlled him, while
his loud outcries filled the buildings, and sent a shudder to the hearts
of those who heard them. As the two men, who at first had occupied the
room with him, were well enough to leave for home, Marian and Morris
both begged that unless absolutely necessary no other one should he sent
to that small apartment, where all the air was needed for the patient in
their charge. And thus the room was left alone for Wilford, who grew
worse so fast that Morris wrote to Katy, while Marian followed the
letter with a telegram, bidding her come at once.

       *       *       *       *       *

Slowly the wintry night was passing, the fifth since Morris' letter was
sent to Katy, and Morris sat by Wilford's cot, wondering if the morning
would bring her to him, when suddenly he met Wilford's eyes fixed upon
him with a look of recognition he could not mistake.

"Do you know me?" he asked, so kindly and with so much of genuine
sympathy in his voice that the heavy eyelids quivered for an instant, as
Wilford nodded his head, and whispered:

"Dr. Grant."

There had been a momentary flash of resentment when he saw who was the
watcher beside him, but Wilford was too weak, too helpless to cherish
that feeling long, and besides there were floating through his still
bewildered mind visions of some friendly hand, which had ministered to
him daily, of a voice and form, distinct from the one he thought an
angel's, and which was not there now with him. That voice, that form, he
felt sure belonged to Morris Grant, and remembering his past harshness
toward him, a chord of gratitude was touched, and when Morris took his
hand he did not at once withdraw it, but let his long, white fingers
cling around the warm, vigorous ones, which seemed to impart new life
and strength.

"You have been very sick," Morris said, anticipating the question
Wilford would ask, "You are very sick still, and at the request of your
nurse I came to attend you."

A pressure of the hand was Wilford's reply, and then there was silence
between them, while Wilford mastered all his pride, and with quivering
lips whispered:

"Katy."

"We have sent for her. We expect her every train," Morris replied, and
Wilford asked:

"Who is we? Who has been with me--the nurse, I mean? Who is she?"

Morris hesitated a moment, and then said:

"Marian Hazelton--she who took care of baby."

"I know--yes," Wilford said, having no suspicion as to who was the woman
standing now just outside his door, and listening, with a throbbing
heart, to his rational questions.

In all their vigils held together no sign had ever passed from Dr.
Grant to Marian that he knew her, but he had waited anxiously for this
moment, knowing well that in his present state Wilford must not be
shocked, as a sight of Marian would shock him. He knew she was outside
the door, and as Wilford turned his head upon the pillow, he went to
her, and leading her to a safe distance, said softly:

"His reason has returned."

"And my services, then, are ended," Marian rejoined, looking him
steadily in the face, but not in the least prepared for his affirmative
question:

"You are Genevra Lambert?"

There was a low, gasping sound, and Marian staggered forward a step or
two, then steadying herself, she said:

"And if I am, it surely is not best for him to see me. You would not
advise it?"

She looked wistfully at Morris, the great desire to be recognized, to be
spoken to kindly by the man who once had been her husband overmastering
for a moment all her prudence.

"It would not be best, both for his sake and Katy's," Morris said,
reading her thoughts aright, and with a moan like the dying out of her
last hope, Marian turned away, her eyes dim with tears and her heart
heavy with a sense of something lost, as in the gray dawn of the morning
she went back to her former patients, who hailed her coming with
childish joy, one fair young boy from the Granite hills kissing the hand
which bandaged his poor crushed arm so tenderly, and thanking her that
she had returned to him again.

She had not asked Dr. Grant how much he knew of her story, or where he
had learned it. She was satisfied that he did know it, and she left her
case in his hands, wondering if at any time Wilford had been conscious
of her presence as a nurse, and if he would miss her any. He did miss
her, but he made no comment, and when, as the morning advanced, another
nurse appeared, he said to himself:

"Surely this cannot be Miss Hazelton," but asked no questions of any
kind, and Marian's heart grew heavier when in answer to her inquiry,
Morris said: "He has not mentioned you."

       *       *       *       *       *

"Mr. J. Cameron, Miss Bell Cameron," were the names on the cards sent to
Dr. Grant late that afternoon, and in a few moments he was with the
father and sister asking so anxiously for Wilford and explaining why
Katy was not with them.

Wilford was sleeping when they entered his room, his face looking so
worn and thin, and his hands folded so helplessly upon his breast, that
with a gush of tears Bell knelt beside him and laying her warm cheek
against his bony one, woke him with her sobs. For a moment he seemed
bewildered, then recognising her, he raised his feeble arm and winding
it about her neck, kissed her more tenderly than he had ever done
before. He had not been demonstrative of his affection for his sisters.
But Bell was his favorite, and he held her close to him while his eyes
moved past his father, whom he did not see, on to the door as if in
quest of some one. It was Katy, and, guessing his thoughts, Bell said:

"She is not here. She could not come now. She is sick in New York, but
will join us in a few days."

There was a look of intense disappointment in Wilford's face, which even
his father's warm greeting could not dissipate, and Morris saw the great
tears as they dropped upon the pillow, the proud man trying hard to
repress them, and asking no questions concerning any one at home. He was
too weak to talk, but he held Bell's hand firmly in his as if afraid
that she would leave him, while his eyes rested alternately upon her
face and that of his father, who, wholly unmanned at the fearful change
in his son, laid his head upon the bed and cried aloud.

Next morning Bell was very white and her voice trembled as she sought
her brother's side and asked how he had rested. She had come from a
conference with Dr. Morris, who had told her that her brother would die.

"He may live a week and he may not," he said, adding solemnly: "As his
sister you will tell him of his danger while there is time to seek the
refuge without which death is terrible."

"Oh, if I could only pray with and for him," Bell thought, as she went
next to her brother, mourning her misspent days, and feeling her courage
giving way when at last she stood in his presence and met his kindly
smile.

"I dreamed it was all a dream," he said, "and that you were not here
after all. I am so glad to find it real. How long before I can go home,
do you suppose?"

He had stumbled upon the very thing Bell was there to talk about, his
question indicating that he had no suspicion of the truth. Nor had he,
and it came like a thunderbolt, when Bell, forgetting all her prudence,
said impetuously:

"Oh, Wilford, maybe you'll never go home. Maybe you'll--"

"Not die!" Wilford exclaimed, clasping his hands with sudden emotion.
"Not die, you don't mean that. Who told you so? Who said I was near to
death?"

"Dr. Grant," was Bell's reply, which brought a fierce frown to Wilford's
face, and awoke all the angry passions of his heart.

"Dr. Grant," he repeated. "He says so because he wishes it. He would
like me removed from his path, but it shall not be. I will not die. Tell
him that. I will not die," and Wilford's voice was hoarse with passion
as he raised his clinched fists in the air.

He was terribly excited, and in her fright Bell ran for Dr. Grant. But
Wilford motioned him back, hurling after him words which kept him from
the room the entire day, while the sick man rolled, and tossed, and
raved in the delirium, which had returned, and which wore him out so
fast. No one had the least influence over him except Marian Hazelton,
who, without a glance at Mr. Cameron or Bell, glided to his side, and
with her presence and gentle words soothed him into comparative quiet,
so that the bitter denunciations against the saint who wanted him to
die, ceased, and he fell into a troubled sleep.

Smoothing his pillow, and arranging the bedclothes tidily about him,
Marian turned to meet the eyes of both Mr. Cameron and Bell fixed
curiously upon her. With a strange feeling of interest they had watched
her, both feeling an aversion to addressing her, and both wondering if
she were indeed Genevra, as Katy had affirmed. They would not ask her,
and both breathed more freely when, with a bow in acknowledgment of Mr.
Cameron's compliment to her skill in quieting his son, she left the
room.

Neither said what they thought of her, nor was her name once mentioned,
but she was not for a moment absent from their minds as they from choice
sat that night with Wilford, who slept off his delirium, and lay with
his face turned from them, so that they could not guess by its
expression what was passing in his mind.

All the next day he maintained the most frigid silence, answering only
in monosyllables, while Bell kept wiping away the great drops of sweat
constantly oozing out upon his forehead and about the pallid lips.

Just at nightfall he startled Bell by asking that Dr. Grant be sent for.

"Please leave me alone with him," he said, when Dr. Morris came; then
turning to Morris, as the door closed upon his father and his sister, he
said, abruptly:

"Pray for me, if you can pray for one who yesterday hated you so for
saying he must die."

Earnestly, fervently, Morris prayed, as for a dear brother, and when he
finished Wilford's faint "amen" sounded through the room.

"I am not right yet," the pale lips whispered, as Morris sat down beside
him. "Not right with God, I mean. I've sometimes said there was no God,
but I did not believe it, and now I know there is. He has been moving
upon me all the day, driving out my bitterness toward you, and causing
me to send for you at last. Do you think there is hope for me? I have
much to be forgiven."

"Though your sins be as scarlet they shall be white as snow," Morris
replied; and then, oh, how earnestly he tried to point that erring man
to the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, convincing
him that there was hope even for him, and leaving him with the
conviction that God would surely finish the good work begun, nor suffer
this soul to be lost which had turned to Him even at the eleventh hour.

Wilford knew his days were numbered, and he talked freely of it to his
father and sister the next morning when they came to him. He did not say
that he was ready or willing to die, only that he must, and he asked
them to forget, when he was gone, all that had ever been amiss in him as
a son and brother.

"I was too proud, too selfish, to make others happy," he said. "I
thought it all over yesterday, and the past came back again so vividly,
especially the part connected with Katy. Oh, Katy, I did abuse her!" and
a bitter sob attested the genuineness of Wilford's grief for his
treatment of Katy. "I thought because I took her from a lower walk of
life than mine, that she was bound by every tie of gratitude to do just
what I said, and I set myself at work to crush her every feeling and
impulse which savored of her early home. I despised her family, I
treated them with contempt. I broke Katy's heart, and now I must die
without telling her I am sorry. But you'll tell her, father, and you,
too, Bell, how, dying, I tried to pray, but could not for thought of my
sin to her. She will not be glad that I am dead. I know her better than
to think that; and I believe she loves me. But, after I am gone, and the
duties of the world have closed up the gap I shall leave, I see a
brighter future for her than her past has been; and you may tell her I
am--" He could not then say "I am willing."

Few husbands could have done so then, and he was not an exception.

Wholly exhausted he lay quiet for a moment, and when he spoke again it
was of Genevra. Even here he did not try to screen himself. He was the
one to blame, he said. Genevra was true, was innocent, as he ascertained
too late.

"Would you like to see her if she were living?" came to Bell's lips, but
the fear that it would be too great a shock prevented their utterance.

He had no suspicion of her presence, and it was best he should not. Katy
was the one uppermost in his mind, and in the letter Bell sent to her
the next day, he tried to write: "Good-by, my darling," but the words
were scarcely legible, and his nerveless hand fell helpless at his side
as he said:

"She will never know the effort it cost me, nor hear me say that I hope
I am forgiven. It came to me last night, the peace for which I've sought
so long, and Dr. Grant has prayed, and now the way is not so dark, but
Katy will not know."



CHAPTER XLVIII.

LAST HOURS.


Katy would know, for she was coming to him on the morrow, as a brief
telegram announced, and Wilford's face grew brighter with thoughts of
seeing her. He knew when the train was due, and with nervous
restlessness he asked repeatedly what time it was, reducing the hours to
minutes, and counting his own pulses to see if he would last so long.

"Save me, doctor," he whispered to Morris. "Keep me alive till Katy
comes. I must see Katy again."

And Morris, tenderer than a brother, did all he could to keep the feeble
breath from going out ere Katy came.

"I must have clean linen on my bed and on my person, too," Wilford said,
"for Katy is coming, and I must not look repulsive."

The clean white linen was brought, and when it was arranged a smile of
childish satisfaction crept around the lips, as Wilford said:

"Katy can kiss me now. She is not accustomed to hospital fare, you
know."

His mind seemed slightly to wander; but when the hour came for the
arrival of the train he knew it, asking, eagerly:

"Do you suppose she's come?" and straining his ear to catch the sound of
the distant whistle. Dr, Morris had gone to meet her, and the time fled
on apace until at last his step was heard, and Wilford, lifting up his
head, listened for that other step, which, alas! was not there.

"The train is behind time several hours," was Morris' report, and with
a moan Wilford turned away and wept, thinking by some strange chance of
that day when at the farmhouse others had waited for Katy as he was
doing, and waited, too, in vain.

Truly, they of the farmhouse were avenged, for never had they felt so
bitter a pang as Wilford did when he knew Katy had not come.

"It's right," he said, when he could trust himself to speak; "but I did
want to see her. Tell her I am willing."

The last seemed wrung from him almost against his will, and drops of
sweat stood thickly upon his brow. Only Bell and her father guessed what
he meant by being willing. Morris had no idea, but he wiped the
death-sweat away, and said, soothingly:

"Be quiet, and you may see her yet. She will surely come by and by."

Thus reassured, Wilford grew calm and fell asleep, while the watchers by
his side waited anxiously for the first sound which should herald the
arrival of the train.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was dark in the hospital, and from every window a light was shining,
when Morris carried rather than led a quivering figure up the stairs and
through the hall, where, in a corner, Marian Hazelton's white face
looked out upon him, her hands clasped over her heart, and working
nervously as she watched Katy going where she must not go--going to the
room where the Camerons were, the father standing at the foot of
Wilford's bed, and Bell bending over his pillow, administering the
stimulants which kept her brother alive. When Katy came in, she moved
away, as did her father, while Morris, too, stepped back into the hall,
and thus the husband and wife were left alone in this their first
meeting since the parting at Yonkers nearly one year ago.

"Katy, precious Katy, you have forgiven me?" he whispered, and the rain
of tears and kisses on his face was Katy's answer as she hung over him.

She had forgiven him like a true, faithful wife, and she told him so,
when she found voice to talk, wondering to find him so changed from the
proud, exacting, self-worshiping man, to the humble, repentant and
self-accusing person, who took all blame of the past to himself, and
exonerated her from every fault. But when he drew her close to him, and
whispered something in her ear, she knew whence came the change, and a
reverent "Thank the Good Father," dropped from her lips.

"The way was dark and thorny," Wilford said, making her sit down where
he could see her as he talked, "and only for God's goodness I should
have lost the path. But he sent one Morris Grant to point the road, and
I trust I am in it now. I wanted to see you before I died, to tell you
with my own lips how sorry I am for what I have made you suffer; but
sorriest of all for sending Baby away. Oh, Katy, you do not know how
that rested upon my conscience, or how often in my sleep upon the tented
plain or hillside I have felt again the touch of Baby's arms and Baby's
cheek against my own as I felt it that day when I came home and took her
from you. Forgive me, Katy, that I robbed you of your child."

He was growing very weak, and he looked so white and ghastly that Katy
called for Bell, who came at once, as did her father, and the three
stood together around the bedside of the dying, Katy with his cold hand
in hers, and occasionally bending down to hear his whispered words of
love and deep contrition.

"You will remember me, Katy," he said, "but you cannot mourn for me
always, and some time in the future you will cease to be my widow, and,
Katy, I am willing. I wanted to tell you this so that no thought of me
should keep you from a life where you will be happier than I have made
you."

Wholly bewildered, Katy made no reply, and Wilford was silent a few
moments, in which he seemed partially asleep. Then rousing up, he said:

"You wrote me once that Genevra was not dead. Did you mean it, Katy?"

Frightened and bewildered, Katy turned appealingly to her father-in-law,
who answered for her; "She meant it--Genevra is not dead," while a
blood-red flush stained Wilford's face, and his thin fingers beat the
bedspread thoughtfully.

"I fancied once that she was here--that she was the nurse the boys
praise so much. But that was a delusion," he said, and without a thought
of the result, Katy asked, impetuously: "If she were here would you care
to see her?"

There was a startled look on Wilford's face, and he grasped Katy's hand
nervously, his frame trembling with a dread of the great shock which he
felt impending over him.

"Is she here? Was the nurse Genevra?" he asked, then as his mind went
back to the past, he answered his own question by asserting: "Marian
Hazelton is Genevra."

They did not contradict him, nor did he ask to see her. With Katy there,
he felt he had better not, but after a moment he continued: "It is all
so strange; I do not comprehend how it can be. She has been kind to me.
Tell her I thank her for it. I was unjust to her. I have much to answer
for."

Between each word he uttered now there was a gasp for breath, and Father
Cameron opened the window wide to admit the cool night air. But nothing
had power to revive him. He was going very fast, Morris said, as he took
his stand by the bedside and watched the approach of death. There were
no convulsive struggles, only heavy breathings, which grew farther and
farther apart, until at last Wilford drew Katy close to him, and winding
his arm around her neck, whispered:

"I am almost home, my darling, and all is well. Be kind to Genevra for
my sake. I loved her once, but not as I love you."

He never spoke again, and a few minutes later Morris led Katy from the
room, and then went out to give his orders for the embalming of the
body.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the little room she called her own, Marian Hazelton sat, her
beautiful hair disordered, and her eyes dim with the tears she had shed.
She knew that Wilford was dead, for Morris had told her so, and as if
his dying had brought back all her olden love, she wept bitterly for the
man who had so darkened her life. She did not know that at the last he
knew she was so near. She had not expected to see him with Katy present;
but now that it was over, she might go to him. There could be no harm in
that. No one but Morris would know who she was, she thought, and she was
making up her mind to go, when there came a timid knock upon the door,
and Katy entered, her face very pale, her manner very calm, as she came
to Marian, and kneeling down beside her, laid her head in her lap with
the air of a weary child who has sought its mother for rest.

"Poor little Katy!" Marian said, caressing her golden hair. "Your
husband, they tell me, is dead."

"Yes," and Katy lifted up her head, and fixing her eves earnestly upon
Marian, continued: "Wilford is dead, but before he died he left a
message for Genevra Lambert. Will she hear it now?"

With a sudden start, Marian sprang to her feet, and holding Katy from
her, demanded: "Who told you of Genevra Lambert, and when?"

"Wilford told me months ago, showing me her picture, which I readily
recognized," was Katy's answer, and a flush of fear and shame came to
Marian's cheek as she continued:

"Did he tell you all? And do you hate me as a vile, polluted creature?"

"Hate you, Marian? No. I have pitied you so much, knowing you were
innocent. Wilford told me all, but he thought you were dead," Katy said,
flinching a little before Marian's burning gaze, which fascinated even,
while it startled her.

It is not often two women meet bearing to each other the relations
these two bore, and it is not strange that both felt constrained and
embarrassed as they stood looking at each other. As Marian's was the
stronger nature, so she was the first to rally, and with the tears
swimming in her eyes she drew Katy closely to her, and said:

"Now that he is gone I am glad you know it. Mine has been a sad, sad
life, but God has helped me bear it. You say he believed me dead. Some
time I will tell you how that came about; but now, his message--he left
one, you say?"

Carefully Katy repeated every word Wilford had said, and with a gasping
cry Marian wound her arms around her neck, exclaiming:

"And you will love me, not because he did once, but because I have
suffered so much? You will let me call you Katy when we are alone? It
brings you nearer to me."

Marian was now the weaker of the two, and it was Katy's task to comfort
her, as, sinking back in her chair, she sobbed:

"He did love me once. He acknowledged it at the last, before them all,
his wife, his father and his sister. Do they know?" she suddenly asked,
and when assured that they did, she relapsed into a silent mood, while
Katy stole quietly out and left her there alone.

Half an hour later a female form passed hurriedly through the hall and
across the threshold into the chamber where the dead man lay. There was
no one with him now, and Marian was free to weep out the pent-up sorrow
of her life, which she did with choking sobs and passionate words poured
into the ear deaf now to every human sound. A step upon the floor
startled her, and turning around she stood face to face with Wilford's
father, who was regarding her with a look which she mistook for one of
reproof and displeasure that she should be there thus.

"Forgive me," she said, wringing her hands together. "I know how you
despise me, but he was my husband once, and surely now that he is dead
you will not begrudge me a few last moments with him for the sake of the
days when he loved me."

There were many tender chords in the heart of Father Cameron, and
offering Marian his hand, he said:

"Far be it from me to refuse you this privilege. I pity you, Genevra,
for I believe he dealt unjustly by you--but I will not censure him now
that he is gone. He was my only boy. Oh, Wilford, Wilford. You have left
me very lonely."

He released her hand, and Marian fled away, meeting next with Bell, who
felt that she must speak to her, but was puzzled what to say. Bell could
not define her feelings toward Marian, or why she shrank from
approaching her. It was not pride, but rather a feeling of prejudice, as
if Marian were in some way to blame for all the trouble which had come
to them, while her peculiar position as the divorced wife of her brother
made it the more embarrassing. But she could not resist the mute
pleading of the eyes lifted so tearfully to her, as if asking for
a nod of recognition, and stopping before her she said, softly:

"Genevra."

That was all, but it made Genevra's tears flow in torrents, and she
involuntarily held her hand out to Bell, who took it, and holding it
between her own, said:

"You were very kind to my brother. I thank you for it, and will tell my
mother, who will feel so grateful to you."

This was a good deal for Bell to say, and after it was said, she
hastened away, while Marian went on her daily round of duties, speaking
softer, if possible, to her patients that day, and causing them to
wonder what had come over that sweet face to make it so white and
tear-stained. That night in Marian's room Katy sat and listened to what
she did not before know of the strange story kept from her so long.
Candidly Marian confirmed all Wilford had told, breathing no word of
blame against him now that he was dead, only stating facts, and leaving
Katy to draw her own conclusions. Herself she censured much for
fostering that fondness for admiration so irritating to a jealous man
like Wilford.

"I knew that I was handsome," she said, "and I liked to test my power;
but for that weakness I have been sorely punished. I had not at first
any intention of making him believe that I was dead, and when I sent the
paper containing the announcement of father's death I was not aware that
it also contained the death of my cousin, a beautiful girl just my age,
who bore our grandmother's name of Genevra, and about whom and a young
English lord, who had hunted one season in her father's neighborhood,
there were some scandalous reports. Afterward it occurred to me that
Wilford would see that notice and naturally think it referred to me,
inasmuch as he knew nothing of my Cousin Genevra, she having spent much
of her time in the northern part of Scotland, and he never inquired
particularly about my relatives.

"It was just as well, I said, I was dead to him, and I took a strange
satisfaction in wondering if he would care. Incidentally I heard that
the postmaster at Alnwick had been written to by an American gentleman,
who asked if such a person as Genevra Lambert was buried at St. Mary's;
and then I knew he believed me dead, even though the name appended to
the letter was not Wilford Cameron, nor was the writing his, for, as the
cousin of the dead Genevra. I asked to see the letter, and my request
was granted. It was Mrs. Cameron who wrote it, I am sure, at the
instigation, probably, of her son, signing a feigned name and bidding
the postmaster answer to that address. He did so, assuring the inquirer
that Genevra Lambert was buried there, and wondering to me if the young
American who seemed interested in her could have been a lover of the
unfortunate girl.

"I was now alone in the world, for the aunt with whom my childhood was
passed died soon after my father, and so I went at last to learn a trade
on the Isle of Wight, emigrating from thence to New York, with the
determination in my rebellious heart that some time, when it would cut
the deepest, I would show myself to the proud Camerons, whom I so
cordially hated. This was before God had found me, or rather before I
had listened to the still, small voice which took the hard, vindictive
feelings away, and made me feel kindly toward the mother and sisters
when I saw them, as I often used to do, driving gayly by. Wilford was
sometimes with them, and the sight of him always sent the hot blood
surging through my heart. But the greatest shock I ever had came to me
when I heard from your sister of his approaching marriage with you.
Those were terrible days that I passed at the farmhouse, working on your
bridal _trousseau_; and sometimes I thought it more than I could bear.
Had you been other than the little, loving, confiding, trustful girl you
were, I must at some time have disclosed the whole, and told that you
would not be the first who had stood at the altar with Wilford. But pity
for you, whom I knew loved him so much, kept me silent, and you became
his wife.

"Of what has happened since you know--except, indeed, how hard it was
sometimes for poor, weak human nature to see you as happy as you were at
first, and then contrast my lot with yours. I loved your baby almost as
much as if it had been my own, and when it died there was nothing to
bind me to the North, and so I came here, where I hope I have done some
good; at least, I was here to care for Wilford, and that is a sufficient
reward for all the toil which falls to the lot of a hospital nurse. I
shall stay until the war is ended, and then go I know not where. It will
not be best for us to meet very often, for though we may and do respect
each other, neither can forget the past, or that one was the lawful,
the other the divorced, wife of the same man. I have loved you, Katy
Cameron, for your uniform kindness shown to the poor dressmaker. I shall
always love you, but our paths lie widely apart. Your future I can
predict, but mine God only knows."

Marian had said all she meant to say, and all Katy came to hear. The
latter was to leave in the morning, and when they would meet again
neither could tell. Few were the parting words they spoke, for the great
common sorrow welling up from their hearts; but when at last they said
good-by, the bond of friendship between them was more strongly cemented
than ever, and Katy long remembered Marian's parting words:

"God bless you, Katy Cameron! You have been a bright sun spot in my
existence since I first knew you, even though you have stirred some of
the worst impulses of my nature. I am a better woman for having known
you. God bless you, Katy Cameron!"



CHAPTER XLIX.

MOURNING.


The grand funeral which Mrs. Cameron once had planned for Katy was a
reality at last, but the breathless form lying so cold and still in the
darkened rooms at No. ---- Fifth Avenue was not Katy's, but that of a
soldier embalmed--an only son brought back to his father's house amid
sadness and tears. They had taken him there rather than to his own
house, because it was the wish of his mother, who, however hard and
selfish she might be to others, had loved and idolized her son, mourning
for him truly, and forgetting in her grief to care how grand the funeral
was, and feeling only a passing twinge when told that Mrs. Lennox had
come from Silverton to pay the last tribute of respect to her late
son-in-law. Some little comfort it was to have her boy lauded as a
faithful soldier and to hear the commendations lavished upon him during
the time he lay in state, with his uniform around him; but when the
whole was over, and in the gray of the wintry afternoon her husband
returned from burying his son, there came over her a feeling of such
desolation as she had never known--a feeling which drove her at last to
the little room upstairs, where sat a lonely man, his head bowed upon
his hands, and his tears dropping silently upon the hearthstone as he,
too, thought of the vacant parlor below and the new-made grave at
Greenwood.

"Oh, husband, comfort me, for our only boy is dead," fell from her lips
as she tottered to her husband, who opened his arms to receive her,
forgetting all the years which had made her the cold, proud woman, who
needed no sympathy, and remembering only that bright, green summer when
she was first his bride, and came to him for comfort in every little
grievance, just as now she came in this great, crushing sorrow.

He did not tell her she was reaping what she had sown, that but for her
pride and deception concerning Genevra, Wilford might never have gone to
the war, or they been without a son. He did not reproach her at all, but
soothed her tenderly, calling her even by her maiden name, and awkwardly
smoothing her hair, silvered now with gray, feeling for a moment that
Wilford had not died in vain, if by his dying he gave back to his father
the wife so lost during the many years since fashion and folly had been
the idols she worshiped. But the habits of years could not be lightly
broken, and Mrs. Cameron's mind soon became absorbed in the richness of
her mourning, and the strict etiquette of her mourning days. To Katy she
was very kind, caressing her with unwonted affection, and scarcely
suffering her to leave her sight, much less to stay even for a day at
Mrs. Banker's, where Katy secretly preferred to be. Of Genevra, too, she
talked with Katy, and at her instigation wrote a friendly letter,
thanking Miss Lambert for all her kindness to her son, expressing her
sorrow that she had ever been so unjust to her, and sending her a
handsome locket, containing on one side a lock of Wilford's hair, and on
the other his picture, taken from a large-sized photograph. Mrs. Cameron
felt herself a very good woman after she had done all this, together
with receiving Mrs. Lennox at her own house, and entertaining her for
one whole day; but at heart there was no real change, and as time passed
on she gradually fell back into her old ways of thinking, and went no
more for comfort to her husband as she had on that first night after the
burial.

With Mr. Cameron the blow struck deeper, and his Wall Street friends
talked together of the old man he had grown since Wilford died, while
Katy often found him bending over his long-neglected Bible, as he sat
alone in his room at night. And when at last she ventured to speak to
him upon the all-important subject, like a little child, he put his hand
in hers, and bade her teach him the narrow way which she had found, and
wherein Wilford, too, had walked at the very last, they hoped.

For many weeks Katy lingered in New York, and the June roses were
blooming when she went back to Silverton, a widow and the rightful owner
of all Wilford's ample fortune. They had found among his papers a will,
drawn up and executed not long before his illness, and in which Katy was
made his heiress, without condition or stipulation. All was hers to do
with as she pleased, and the bitterest tears she ever shed were those
which fell like rain when she heard how generous Wilford had been. Then,
as she thought of Marian, and the life of poverty before her, she crept
to Father Cameron's side, and said to him, pleadingly:

"Let Genevra share it with me. She needs it quite as much."

Father Cameron would not permit Katy to divide equally with Marian. It
was not just, he said; but he did not object to a few thousand going to
her, and before Katy left New York for Silverton, she wrote a long, kind
letter to Marian, presenting her with ten thousand dollars, which she
begged her to accept, not so much as a gift, but as her rightful due.
There was a moment's hesitancy on the part of Marian when she read the
letter, a feeling that she could not take so much from Katy; but when
she looked at the pale sufferers around her, and remembered how many
wretched hearts that money would help to cheer, she said:

"I will keep it."



CHAPTER L.

PRISONERS OF WAR.


The heat, the smoke, the thunder of the battle were over, and the fields
of Gettysburg, where the terrible three days' fight had been, were
drenched with human blood and covered with the dead and dying. The
contest had been fearful, and its results carried sorrow and anguish to
many a heart waiting for tidings from the war, and looking so anxiously
for the names of the loved ones who, on the anniversary of the day which
saw our nation's independence, lay upon the hills and plains of
Gettysburg, their white faces upturned to the summer sky, and wet with
the raindrops which like tears for the noble dead the pitying clouds had
shed upon them. And nowhere, perhaps, was there a whiter face or a more
anxious heart than at the farmhouse, where both Helen and her
mother-in-law were spending the hot July days. Since the Christmas Eve
when Helen had watched her husband going from her across the wintry
snow, he had not been back, though several times he had made
arrangements to do so. Something, however, had always happened to
prevent. Once it was sickness which kept him in bed for a week or more;
again his regiment was ordered to advance, and the third time it was
sent on with others to repel the invaders from Pennsylvania soil.
Bravely through each disappointment Helen bore herself, but her cheek
always grew paler and her eye darker in its hue when the evening papers
came, and she read what progress our soldiers had made, feeling that a
battle was inevitable, and praying so earnestly that Mark Ray might be
spared. Then when the battle was over, and up the Northern hills came
the dreadful story of thousands and thousands slain, there was a fearful
look in her eyes, and her features were rigid as marble, while the
quivering lips could scarcely pray for the great fear tugging at her
heart. Mark Ray was not with his men when they came from that terrific
onslaught. A dozen had seen him fall, struck down by a rebel ball, and
that was all she heard for more than a week, when there came another
relay of news.

Captain Mark Ray was a prisoner of war, with several of his own company.
An inmate of Libby Prison and a sharer from choice of the apartment
where his men were confined. As an officer, he was entitled to better
quarters than the filthy pen where the poor privates were, but Mark Ray
had a large, warm heart, and he would not desert those who had been so
faithful to him, and so he took their fare, and by his genial humor and
unwavering cheerfulness kept many a heart from fainting and made the
prisoners' life more bearable than it could have been without him. To
young Tom Tubbs, who had enlisted six months before, he was a
ministering angel, and many times the poor, homesick boy crept to the
side of his captain, and laying his burning head in his lap, wept
himself to sleep and dreamed he was at home again. The horrors of that
prison life have never been told, but Mark bore up manfully, suffering
less in mind, perhaps, than did the friends at home, who lived, as it
were, a thousand years in that one brief summer while he languished in
that horrid den whose very name had a power to send a thrill of fear to
every heart.

At last, as the frosty days of October came on, they began to hope he
might be exchanged, and Helen's face grew bright again, until one day
there came a soiled, half-worn letter, in Mark's own handwriting. It was
the first word received from him since his capture in July, and with a
cry of joy Helen snatched it from Uncle Ephraim, for she was still at
the farmhouse, and sitting down upon the doorstep just where she had
been standing, read the words which Mark had sent to her. He said
nothing of the treatment he received, for he wanted the letter to reach
her, and he knew well that if he complained the chances were small for
the missive ever to leave the capital of the "chivalry." He was very
well, he said, and had been all the time, but he pined for home, longing
for the dear girl-wife never so dear as now, when separated by so many
miles, with prison walls on every side, and an enemy's line between
them.

"But be of good cheer, darling," he wrote. "I shall come back to you
some time, and life will he all the brighter for what you suffer now. I
am so glad my darling consented to be my wife, even though I could stay
with her but a moment. The knowing you are really mine makes me happy
even here, for I think of you by day, and in my dreams I always hold you
in my arms and press you to my heart."

Far different from this cheerful letter was the one which Tom inclosed
in it for his family--a wild, homesick outburst, containing so much of
truth that it was strange it was ever permitted to leave the city. Of
this letter Helen heard by way of Mattie Tubbs, and hope died within
her, especially as Tom spoke of their being sent further South as a
probable event.

"If Mark goes I shall never see him again," Helen said, despairingly;
and when at last the message came that Mark had been removed, and that,
too, just at the time when an exchange was constantly expected, she gave
him up as lost, feeling almost as much widowed as Katy in her weeds.

Slowly the winter passed away, and the country was rife with stories of
the inhuman treatment of our men, daily dying by hundreds, while those
who survived the cruelties were reduced to maniacs and imbeciles. And
Helen, as she listened, grew nearly frantic with the sickening suspense.
She did not know now where her husband was. He had made several attempts
to escape, and with each failure had been removed to safer quarters, so
that the chances now of his being exchanged seemed very far away. Week
after week, month after month, passed on, until came the memorable
battle of the Wilderness, when Lieutenant Bob, as yet unharmed, stood
bravely in the thickest of the fight, his tall figure towering above the
rest, and his soldier's uniform buttoned over a dark tress of hair, and
a face like Bell Cameron's, Lieutenant Bob had taken two or three
furloughs, but the one which had left the sweetest, pleasantest memory
in his heart was that of the autumn before, when the crimson leaves of
the maple and the golden tints of the beech were burning themselves out
on the hills of Silverton, where his furlough was mostly passed, and
where, with Bell Cameron, he scoured the length and breadth of Uncle
Ephraim's farm, now stopping by the shore of Fairy Pond and again
sitting for hours on a ledge of rocks far up the hill, where, beneath
the softly-whispering pines nodding above their heads, Bell gathered the
light brown cones, and said to him the words he had so thirsted to hear:

"I love you, Robert Reynolds."

Much of Bell's time was passed with Katy at the farmhouse, and here
Lieutenant Reynolds found her, accepting readily of Uncle Ephraim's
hearty invitation to remain; and spending his entire vacation there,
with the exception of three days given to his family. Perfectly charmed
with quaint Aunt Betsy, whom he remembered so well, he flattered and
courted her almost as much as he did Bell, but did not take her with him
in his long rambles over the hills, or sit with her at night alone in
the parlor until the clock struck twelve--a habit which Aunt Betsy
greatly disapproved, but overlooked for this once, seeing, as she said,
that:

"The young leftenant was none of her kin, and Isabel only a little."

Those were halcyon days which Robert passed at Silverton, but one stood
out prominently before him, whether sitting by his camp-fire or plunging
into the battle, and that the one when, casting aside all pride and
foolish theories, Bell Cameron freely acknowledged her love for the man
to whom she had been so long engaged, and paid him back the kisses she
had before refused to give.

"I shall be a better soldier for this," Robert had said, as he guided
her down the steep of rocks, and with her hand in his, walked slowly
back to the farmhouse, which, on the morrow, he left to take again his
place in the army.

There were no more furloughs for him after that, and the winter passed
away, bringing the spring again, when came that battle in the
Wilderness, and like a hero he fought until, becoming separated from his
comrades, he fell into the enemy's hands, and two days after there sped
along the telegraphic wires to New York:

"Lieutenant Robert Reynolds captured the first day of the battle."

Afterward there came news that Andersonville was his destination,
together with many others made prisoners that day.

"It is better than being shot, and a great deal better than being
burned, as some of the poor wretches were," Juno said, trying to comfort
Bell, who doubted a little her sister's word.

True, there was now the shadow of a hope that he might survive the
horrors, the mere recital of which made the strongest heart shiver with
dread; but the probabilities were all against it, and Bell's face grew
almost as white as Helen's, while her eyes acquired that restless,
watchful, anxious look which has crept into the eyes of so many
sorrowing women, looking away to the southward, where the dear ones were
languishing in the filthy rebel holes, unworthy the name of prison.



CHAPTER LI.

DR. GRANT.


Morris had served out his time as surgeon in the army, had added to it
an extra six months, and by his humanity, his skill and Christian
kindness, made for himself a name which would be long remembered by the
living to whom he had ministered so carefully, while many a dying
soldier had blessed him for pointing out the way which leadeth to the
life everlasting, and in many a mourning family his name was a household
word for the good he had done to a dying son and brother. But Morris'
hospital work was over. He had gone a little too far, incurring too much
risk, until his own strength had failed from long-continued toil, and
now in the month of June, when Linwood was bright with the early summer
blossoms, he was coming back, with health greatly impaired and a dark
cloud before his vision, so that he could not see how beautiful his home
was looking, or gaze into the faces of those who waited so anxiously to
welcome again their beloved physician. Blind, some said he was, but the
few lines sent to Helen announcing the day of his arrival contradicted
that report. His eyes were very much diseased, his amanuensis wrote, but
he trusted that the pure air of his native hills and the influence of
old scenes and associations would soon effect a cure. If not too much
trouble, he added, please see that the house is made comfortable, and
have John meet me on Friday at the station.

Helen had just returned from New York, where she could not remain any
longer, for the scenes of gayety in which she was sometimes compelled to
mingle were utterly distasteful to her, and she longed for the seclusion
of the farmhouse and the quiet there is among the hills. She was glad
Morris was coming home, for he always did her good; he could comfort her
better than any other, unless it were Katy, whose loving, gentle words
of hope were very soothing to her.

"Poor Morris!" she sighed, as she finished his letter, and then took it
to the family sitting upon the pleasant piazza, which, at Katy's expense
and her own, had been added to the house, overlooking Fairy Pond and the
pleasant hills beyond.

"Morris is coming home," she said, as Aunt Betsy asked: "What news?" "He
will be here on Friday, and he wishes us to see that all things are in
order at Linwood for his reception. His eyes are badly diseased, but he
is not blind, and he hopes that coming back to us will cure him," she
added, glancing aside at Katy, who sat upon a step of the piazza, her
hands folded together upon her lap and her blue eyes looking far off
into the fading sunset, just as Evangeline sits looking down the
Mississippi River.

When she heard Morris' name she turned her head a little, so that the
ripple of her golden hair was more distinctly visible beneath the silken
net she wore, and a deep tinge of red dyed her cheeks; but she made no
comment or showed by any sign that she heard what they were saying. Katy
was very lovely and consistent in her young widowhood, and not a whisper
of gossip had the Silvertonians coupled with her name since she came to
them, leaving her husband in Greenwood. There had been no parading of
her grief before the public or assumption of greater sorrow than many
others had known; but the soberness of her demeanor, and the calm,
subdued expression of her face, attested to what she had suffered.
Sixteen months had passed since Wilford died, and she still wore her
deep mourning weeds, except the widow's cap, which, at her mother's and
Aunt Betsy's earnest solicitations, she had laid aside, substituting in
its place a simple net, which confined her waving hair and kept it from
breaking out in flowing curls, as it was disposed to do. Against this
fashion Aunt Betsy also inveighed.

"Couldn't a body curl their hair when nater intended it to curl, and
mourn a-plenty, too?" For her part, she believed it people's duty to
look as well as they could, mournin' or not mournin', and Katy couldn't
look much wus' than she did, with her hair shoved back under that net,
unless it was when she wore that heathenish cap, which made her look so
like a grandmother.

This was Aunt Betsy's opinion, but to others there was something
singularly sweet and beautiful in the childish face, from which the
golden hair was brushed back so plainly, waving softly about the
forehead, and occasionally escaping from its confinement in a graceful
curl, which Katy suffered to remain for Aunt Betsy's sake. Katy had
never been prettier than she was now, in her mature womanhood, and to
the poor and sorrowful, whose homes she cheered so often, she was an
angel of goodness.

Truly she had been purified by suffering; the dross had been burned out,
and only the gold remained, shedding its brightness on all with which it
came in contact.

They would miss her at the farmhouse now far more than they did when she
first went away, for she made the sunshine of their home, filling
Helen's place when she was in New York, and when she came back proving
to her a stay and comforter. Indeed, but for Katy's presence, Helen
often felt that she could not endure the sickening suspense and doubt
which hung so darkly over her husband's fate.

"He is alive; he will come back," Katy always said, and from her perfect
faith, Helen, too, caught a glimpse of hope.

Could they have forgotten Mark they would have been happy at the
farmhouse now, for with the budding spring and blossoming summer, Katy's
spirits had returned, and her old, musical laugh rang often through the
house just as it used to do in the happy days of girlhood, while the
same silvery voice which led the chair in the brick church, and sang
with the little children their Sunday hymns, often broke forth into
snatches of songs, which made even the robins listen, as they built
their nests in the trees; while Uncle Ephraim, far from condemning this
lightness of spirits, thanked God, who had brought his darling safely
through the cloud to where the sun was shining.

If Katy thought of Morris she never spoke of him when she could help it.
It was a morbid fancy to which she clung; that duty to Wilford's memory
required her to forget, or, at least, avoid the man who had so
innocently come between them; and when she heard he was coming home she
felt more pain than sorrow. She liked going up to Linwood, as she often
did. Its quiet seclusion, and the beauty of its grounds suited her
taste, and she often passed hours in the pleasant summer house, or on
the broad piazza, dreaming sometimes of the past, and sometimes, it must
be confessed, dreaming of a future, and wondering what it would bring
her when Mark came back, as come he would, and Helen was gone for good.
She would be very lonely with people so much older than herself, and who
did not understand the different tastes and ways of thinking which she
had acquired. She was very happy at the farmhouse, it is true, and loved
its inmates with a deep, unselfish love, but Helen's frequent absences
from home showed her that even the farmhouse could be dreary with no
congenial spirit to sympathize with her as Helen did.

Matters were in this state when news came of Morris' intended return,
and Katy, sitting on the piazza step, and gazing dreamily into the
crimson clouds piled against the western sky, seemed not to hear what
her sister was saying. She did hear, however, and the blood leaped more
swiftly through her veins for a moment, as she thought of Morris at
Linwood just as he used to be. But when she remembered Wilford's words,
"He confessed to me that he loved you," she felt only a nervous dread of
Morris' coming, and forthwith set to work to fortify herself at every
point with a stricture of reserve which she was far from feeling.

The day of his return was balmy and beautiful as the days of June are
apt to be, and at an early hour Helen went over to Linwood to see that
everything was in order for his arrival.

"Mrs. Hull will have dinner waiting for him, and I shall stay," she
said to Katy, adding: "I wish you would come over, too. Morris will feel
grateful, I know."

Katy did not reply, but struck softly the chords of the piano and
thought how foolish she was to feel as she did. Suppose Morris had loved
her once, he probably did not now, and even if he did, it could do no
good, for she was the same as dead to all that kind of thing. She had
tried matrimony, and found it--she did not say what. She never allowed
herself to think an unkind thing of Wilford if she could help it, but a
tear dropped upon the piano keys as she unconsciously hummed a part of
the song commencing "I would not, no, I would not, recall the past
again, for mingled with the pleasure was too much grief and pain."

Katy's tears were falling fast by the time the song was ended, but she
dashed them away and sprang from the stool, exclaiming:

"Crying because Morris is coming home, poor, worn-out, half-blind
Morris, who has done so much for the soldiers, I will go up and welcome
him. I will not be so silly as to imagine he still retains a fancy for
an old woman of twenty-three, even if he had one for the girl of
seventeen."

Katy felt very old just then, and walking to the glass, was almost vexed
at the smooth, round face which met her view.

"I ought to look older at twenty-three," she said. "Morris will think
I have not mourned a bit, nor cared for Wilford," and another tear
glistened on her eyelashes as she thought of being accused of
forgetfulness of the dead.

Katy did look very young for twenty-three. Her health was perfect now,
and save as the change in her character showed itself upon her face, she
had scarcely changed at all since the day when she came home from
Canandaigua with her heart and head so full of him who now lay sleeping
in Greenwood.

"I know what's the matter. It's the net," she said, frowning
disapprovingly upon the silken meshes which confined her hair. "Yes,
it's nothing but this net which makes me look so young. Every schoolgirl
wears one, and I have followed the fashion, letting it hang down my
back in a way very unbecoming to a widow of my age. I'll take it off, or
at all events I won't wear it to Linwood," and tossing aside the
offending net, Katy bound her luxuriant hair in bands which she coiled
around the back of her head and then put on the widow's cap, discarded
so many months, and from which she shrank a little as she surveyed
herself in the glass.

It was not exactly unbecoming; nothing could be unbecoming to that fair,
open face, which, surrounded by the white border, looked much like a
sweet baby's face, except that it was older; but it was now so long
since Katy had seen anything of the kind, and as habit is everything,
she was not quite as well pleased with her headgear as in New York,
where such things were common. Nevertheless, she would wear it to
Linwood, and she went for her round straw hat, but, alas, the sun hat
which made her look so frightfully young was not made for the widow's
cap, and casting it aside, Katy threw a thick black veil over her head,
and then stepping to the door of the room where her mother and Aunt
Betsy were busy at work, she said:

"I am going to Linwood, and shall stay there to dinner."

"In the name of the people, what has the child rigged herself out in
that shape for?" Aunt Betsy exclaimed, letting fall the knife with which
she was chopping cheese curd, and staring in astonishment. "I'd enough
sight rather you'd frizzle your hair over rats, as Helen does, making
herself look like some horned critter, than wear that heathenish thing.
Why do you do it, Catherine?"

Catherine could not tell her, and laughing merrily at her aunt's
animadversions against her own and Helen's style of hairdressing, she
hurried away across the fields to Linwood. Aunt Betsy's surprise was in
a measure shared by Helen, who, understanding Katy better, made no
comments on her appearance, but smiled quietly at the air of matronly
dignity which Katy had assumed, and which really sat so prettily upon
her as she went from room to room to see what had been done, lingering
longest in Morris' own apartment, opening from the library, where she
made some alterations in the arrangement of the furniture, putting one
chair a little more to the right, and pushing a stand or table to the
left, just as her artistic eye dictated. By some oversight, no flowers
had been put in there, but Katy gathered an exquisite bouquet and left
it on the mantel, just where she remembered to have seen flowers when
Morris was at home.

"He will he tired," she said. "He will lie down after dinner," and she
laid a few sweet English violets upon the pillow, thinking their perfume
might be grateful to him after the pent-up air of the hospital and cars.
"He will think Helen put them there, or Mrs. Hull," she thought, as she
stole softly out and shut the door behind her, glancing next at the
clock, and feeling a little impatient that a whole hour must elapse
before they could expect him.

Poor Morris! he did not dream how anxiously he was waited for at home,
nor yet of the crowd assembled at the depot to welcome back the loved
physician, whom they had missed so much, and whose name they had so
often heard coupled with praise as a true hero, even though his post was
not in the front of the battle. Thousands had been cared for by him,
their gaping wounds dressed skillfully, their aching heads soothed
tenderly, and their last moments made happier by the words he spoke to
them of the world to which they were going, where there is no more war
or shedding of man's blood. In the churchyard at Silverton there were
three soldiers' graves, whose pale occupants had each died with Dr.
Grant's hand held tightly in his, as if afraid that he would leave them
before the dark river was crossed, while in more than one Silverton home
there was a wasted form on which the soldier coat hung loosely, who
never tired of telling Dr. Morris' praise and dwelling on his goodness.
But Dr. Morris was not thinking of this as, faint and sick, with the
green shade before his eyes, he leaned against the pile of shawls his
companion had placed for his back and wondered if they were almost
there.

"I smell the pond lilies; we must he near Silverton," he said, and a
sigh escaped his lips as he thought of coming home and not being able to
see it or the woods and fields around it. "Thy will be done," he had
said many times since the fear first crept into his heart that for him
the light had faded.

But now, when home was almost reached, and he began to breathe the air
from the New England hills and the perfume of the New England lilies,
the flesh rebelled again, and he cried out within himself: "Oh, I cannot
be blind! God will not deal thus by me!" while keen as the cut of a
sharpened knife was the pang with which he thought of Katy, and wondered
would she care if he were blind.

Just then the long train stopped at Silverton, and, led by his
attendant, he stepped feebly into the crowd, which sent up deafening
cheers for Dr. Grant come home again. At the sight of his helplessness,
however, a feeling of awe fell upon them, and whispering to each other,
"I did not suppose he was so bad," they pressed around him, offering
their hands and inquiring anxiously how he was.

"I have been sick, but I shall get better now. The very sound of your
friendly voices does me good, even though I cannot see you distinctly,"
he said, as he went slowly to his carriage, led now by Uncle Ephraim,
who could not keep back his tears as he saw how weak Morris was, panting
for breath as he leaned back among the cushions.

It was very pleasant that afternoon, and Morris enjoyed the drive so
much, assuring Uncle Ephraim that he was growing better every moment. He
did seem stronger when at last the carriage stopped at Linwood, and his
step was more rapid as he went up the steps where Helen, Katy and Mrs.
Hull were waiting for him. He could not see them sufficiently to
distinguish one from the other, but even without the aid of her voice he
would have known when Katy's hand was put in his, it was so small, so
soft, and trembled so as he held it. Her cap had been worn for nothing,
nor did she think of it in her sorrow at finding him so helpless. Pity
was the strongest feeling of which she was conscious, and it manifested
itself in various ways.

"Let me lead you, Cousin Morris," she said, as she saw him groping his
way to his room, and without waiting for his reply, she held his hand
again in hers and led him to his room, where the sweet English violets
were.

"I used to lead you, Katy," Morris said, as he took his seat by the
window, "and I little thought then that you would one day return the
compliment. It is very hard to be blind."

The tone of his voice was inexpressibly sad, but his smile was as
cheerful as ever as his face turned toward Katy, who could not answer
for her tears. It seemed so terrible to see a strong man so stricken,
and that strong man Morris--terrible to watch him in his helplessness,
trying to appear as of old, so as to cast on others no part of the
shadow resting so darkly on himself. When dinner was over and the sun
began to decline, many of his former friends came in, but he looked so
pale and weary that they did not tarry long, and when the last one was
gone, Morris was led back to his room, which he did not leave again
until the summer was over and the luscious fruits of September were
ripening upon the trees.

Toward the middle of July, Helen, whose health was suffering from her
restless anxiety concerning Mark, was taken by Mrs. Banker to Nahant,
where Mark's sister, Mrs. Ernst, was spending the summer, and thus on
Katy alone fell the duty of paying to Morris those little acts of
sisterly attentions such as no other member of the family knew how to
pay. In the room where he lay so helpless Katy was not afraid of him,
nor did she deem herself faithless to Wilford's memory, because each day
found her at Linwood, sometimes bathing Morris' inflamed eyes, sometimes
bringing him the cooling drink, and again reading to him by the hour,
until, soothed by the music of her voice, he would fall away to sleep
and dream it was an angel there with him.

"My eyes are getting better," he said to her one day toward the latter
part of August, when she came as usual to his room. "I knew last night
that Mrs. Hull's dress was blue, and I saw the sun shine through the
shutters. Soon, very soon, I hope to see you, Katy, and know if you have
changed."

She was standing close by him, and as he talked he raised his hand as if
to rest it on her head, but, with a sudden movement, Katy eluded the
touch, and stepped a little farther from him.

She did not go to Linwood the next day, nor the next; and when she went
again there was in her manner a shade more of dignity, which had both
amused and interested Morris. He did not know for certain that Wilford
had told Katy of the confession made that memorable night when her
recovery seemed so doubtful, but he more than half suspected it from the
shyness of her manner and from the various excuses she now made for not
coming to Linwood every day, as she had heretofore done.

"You do not need me as much as you did," she said to him one morning in
September, when he complained of his loneliness, and told how he had
waited for her the previous day until night shut down, and he knew she
would not come. "You can see better than you did. You are able to sit up
all day, and walk about a little, so if I come I am not needed," and
seating herself at a respectful distance from him, Katy folded her white
hands demurely over her black dress, after having first adjusted the cap
worn constantly since the time when she learned that Morris' sight was
improving.

"I sometimes think I need you more than I did then, and if you must stay
away now, I am ungrateful enough to wish you had not come at all,"
Morris replied, and Katy's cheeks burned crimson as she felt that the
dim eyes, seen through the green shades, were trying to study her as
they had not studied her before. "What is that on your head?" Morris
asked, rather abruptly. "I have tried to make it out, wondering if it
were a handkerchief, and why it was worn."

"It is my cap--the widow's cap--worn for Wilford's sake," was the reply,
which silenced Morris for that time, making him feel that between Katy
Lennox, the girl, and Katy Cameron, the widow, there was a vast
difference, and awakening in his heart a fear lest Wilford Cameron dead
should prove as strong a rival as Wilford living had been.

In his great pity for Katy when she was first a widow, Morris had
scarcely remembered that she was free, or if it did flash upon his mind,
he thrust the thought aside as injustice to the dead; but as the months
and the year went by, and he heard constantly from Helen of Katy's
increasing cheerfulness, it was not in his nature never to think of what
might be, and more than once he had prayed that, if consistent with his
Father's will, that the woman he had loved so well should be his yet. If
not, he could go his way alone, just as he had always done, knowing
that it was right.

Such was the state of Morris' mind when he returned from Washington, but
now it was somewhat different. The weary weeks of sickness, during which
Katy had ministered to him so kindly, had not been without their effect,
and if Morris had loved the frolicsome, childlike Katy Lennox much, he
loved far more the gentle, beautiful woman whose character had been so
wonderfully developed by suffering, and who was now far more worthy of
his love than in her early girlhood.

"I cannot lose her now," was the thought constantly in Morris' mind, as
he experienced more and more how desolate were the days which did not
bring her to him. "It is twenty months, just, since Wilford died; and
George Washington asked Martha Custis for her hand within less time than
that after her husband's death," he said to himself one wet October
afternoon, when he sat listening dreamily to the patter of the rain
falling upon the windows, and looking occasionally across the fields to
the farmhouse, in the vain hope of spying in the distance the little
airy form, which, in its waterproof and cloud, had braved worse storms
than this at the time he was so ill.

But no such figure appeared. He hardly expected it would, but he watched
the pathway just the same, and the smoke wreaths rising so high above
the farmhouse. The deacon burned out his chimney that day, and Morris,
whose sight had greatly improved of late, knew it by the dense, black
volume of smoke, mingled with rings of fire, which rose above the roof,
remembering so well another rainy day, twenty years ago, when the
deacon's chimney was cleaned, and a little, toddling girl, in scarlet
gown and white pinafore, had amused herself with throwing into the
blazing fire upon the hearth a straw at a time, almost upsetting herself
with standing so far back and making such efforts to reach the flames. A
great deal had passed since then. The little girl in the pinafore had
been both wife and mother. She was a widow now, and Morris glanced
across his hearth toward the empty chair he had never seen in
imagination filled by any but herself.

Surely, she would some day be his own, and leaning his head upon the
cane he carried, he prayed earnestly for the good he coveted, keeping
his head down so long that, until it had left the strip of woods and
emerged into the open fields, he did not see the figure, wrapped in
waterproof and hood, with a huge umbrella over its head and a basket
upon its arm, which came picking its way daintily toward the house,
stopping occasionally, and lifting up the little, high-heeled Balmoral,
which the mud was ruining so completely. Katy was coming to Linwood. It
had been baking day at the farmhouse, and remembering how much Morris
used to love her custards, Aunt Betsy had prepared him some, which she
warranted to "melt in his mouth," and then asked Katy to take them over,
so he could have them for tea.

"The rain won't hurt you an atom," she said, as Katy began to demur and
glance at the lowering sky. "You can wear your waterproof boots and my
shaker, if you like, and I do so want Morris to have them to-night."

Thus importuned, Katy consented to go, but declined the loan of Aunt
Betsy's shaker, which being large of the kind, and capeless, too, was
not the most becoming headgear a woman could wear. With the basket of
custards, and cup of jelly she made herself, Katy finally started forth,
Aunt Betsy saying to her, as in the door she stopped to take up her
dress: "It must he dretful lonesome for Morris to-day. S'posin' you stay
to supper with him, and when it's growin' dark I'll come over for you.
You'll find the custards fust-rate."

Katy did not think it very probable that she should stay to tea with
Morris, but she made no reply, and walked away, while Aunt Betsy went
back to the coat she was patching for her brother, saying to herself:

"I'm bound to fetch that 'round. It's a shame for two young folks, just
fitted to each other, to live apart when they might be so happy, with
Hannah, and Lucy, and me, close by, to see to 'em, and allus make their
soap, and see to the butcherin', besides savin' peneryle and catnip for
the children, if there was any."

Aunt Betsy had turned matchmaker in her old age, and day and night she
planned how to bring about the match between Morris and Katy. That they
were made for each other she had no doubt. From something which Helen
inadvertantly let fall she had guessed that Morris wanted Katy prior to
her marriage with Wilford. She had suspected as much before, she was
sure of it now, and straightway put her wits at work "to make it go," as
she expressed it. But Katy was too shy to suit her, and since Morris'
convalescence had stayed too much from Linwood. To-day, however, Aunt
Betsy "felt it in her bones" that, if properly managed, something would
happen, and the custards were but the means to the desired end. With no
suspicion whatever of the good dame's intentions, Katy picked her way to
Linwood, and leaving her damp garments in the hall, lest Morris should
take cold, went at once into the library, where he was sitting near to a
large chair kept sacred for her, his face looking unusually cheerful,
and the room unusually pleasant, with the bright wood fire on the
hearth. She knew he was glad she had come, that he thought more of her
being there than of the custards she brought him.

"I have been so lonely, with no company but the rain," he said, pushing
the chair a little toward her, and bidding her sit near the fire, where
she could dry her feet.

Katy obeyed, and sat down so near to him that had he chose he might have
touched her head, which this day was minus cap, or even net, the golden
hair combed back and fastened in heavy coils low down on her neck,
giving to her a very girlish appearance, as Morris thought, for he could
see her now, and while she dried her feet he looked at her eagerly,
wondering that the fierce storm she had encountered had left so few
traces upon her face. Just about the mouth there was a deep-cut line,
but this was all; the remainder of the face was fair and smooth as in
her early girlhood, and far more beautiful, just as her character was
lovelier, and more to be admired.

Morris had done well to wait if he could win her now. Perhaps he thought
so, too, and this was why his spirits became so gay as he kept talking
to her, suggesting at last that she should stay to tea. The rain was
falling in torrents when he made the proposition. She could not go then,
even had she wished it, and though it was earlier than his usual tea
time, Morris at once rang for Mrs. Hull, and ordered that tea be served
in there as soon as possible.

"I ought not to stay. It is not proper, and my cap at home, too," Katy
kept thinking as she fidgeted in her chair, and watched the girl
setting the table so cosily for two, and occasionally deferring some
debatable point to her as if she were mistress there.

"Shall we have some thin slices of cold chicken to go with the jelly?"
she asked, looking at Katy, who answered in the affirmative, wishing she
was at home, and deploring again the absence of her cap.

"You can go now, Reekie," Morris said, when the boiling water was poured
into the silver kettle, and tea was on the table. "If we need you we
will ring."

With a vague wonder as to who would toast the doctor's bread and butter
it, Reekie departed, and the two were left together. It was Katy who
toasted the bread, kneeling upon the marble hearth, nearly blistering
her hands, burning her face and scorching the bread in her nervousness
at the novel position in which she so unexpectedly found herself. It was
Katy, too, who prepared Morris' tea, and tried to eat, but could not.
She was not hungry, she said, and the custard was the only thing she
tasted, besides the tea, which she sipped at frequent intervals, so as
to make Morris think she was eating more than she was. But Morris was
not deceived, nor yet disheartened. Possibly she suspected his
intention, and if so, the sooner he reached the point the better. So
when the tea equipage was put away, and she began again to speak of
going home, he said:

"No, Katy, you can't go yet till I have said what's in my mind to say,"
and laying his hand upon her shoulder he made her sit down beside him
and listen while he told her the love he had borne for her long before
she knew the meaning of that word as she knew it now--of the struggle to
keep that love in bounds after its indulgence was a sin, of his
temptations and victories, of his sincere regret for Wilford, and of his
deep respect for her grief, which made her for a time as a sister to
him. But that time had passed. She was not his sister now, nor ever
could be again. She was Katy, dearer, more precious, more desired even
than before another called her wife, and he asked her to be his, to come
up there to Linwood and live with him, making the rainy days brighter,
balmier, than the sunniest had ever been, and helping him in his work of
caring for the poor and sick around them.

"Will Katy come? Will she be the wife of Cousin Morris?"

There was a world of pathos and pleading in the voice which asked this
question, just as there was a world of tenderness in the manner in which
Morris smoothed and caressed and fondled the bowed head resting on the
chair arm. And Katy felt it all, understanding what it was to be offered
such a love as Morris offered, but only comprehending in part what it
would be to refuse that love. For, alas! her blinded judgment said she
must refuse it. Had there been no sad memories springing from that grave
in Greenwood, no bitter reminiscences connected with her married
life--had Wilford never heard of Morris' love and taunted her with it so
often, she might perhaps consent, for she craved the rest there would be
with Morris to lean upon. But the happiness was too great for her to
accept. It would seem too much like faithlessness to Wilford, too much
as if he had been right when he charged her with preferring Morris to
himself.

"It cannot be--oh, Morris, it cannot be," she sobbed, when he pressed
her for answer. "Don't ask me why--don't ever mention it again, for I
tell you it cannot be. My answer is final; it cannot be. I am sorry for
you, so sorry. I wish you had never loved me, for it cannot be."

She writhed herself from the arms which tried to detain her, and rising
to her feet left the room suddenly, and throwing on her wrappings,
quitted the house without another word, leaving basket and umbrella
behind, and never knowing she had left them, or how the rain was pouring
down upon her unsheltered person until, as she entered the narrow strip
of woodland, she was met by Aunt Betsy, who exclaimed at seeing her, and
asked:

"What has become of your umberell? Your silk one, too. It's hopeful you
haven't lost it. What has happened you?" and coming closer to Katy, Aunt
Betsy looked searchingly in her face. It was not so dark that she could
not see the traces of recent tears, and instinctively suspecting their
nature, she continued: "Catherine, have you gin Morris the mitten?"

"Aunt Betsy, is it possible that you and Morris contrived this plan?"
Katy asked, half indignantly, as she began in part to understand her
aunt's great anxiety for her to visit Linwood that afternoon.

"Morris had nothing to do with it," Aunt Betsy replied. "It was my
doin's wholly, and this is the thanks I git. You quarrel with him and
git mad at me, who thought only of your good. Catherine, you know you
like Morris Grant, and if he asked you to have him why don't you?"

"I can't, Aunt Betsy. I can't, after all that has passed. It would be
unjust to Wilford."

"Unjust to Wilford--fiddlesticks!" was Aunt Betsy's expressive reply, as
she started on toward Linwood, saying she was going after the umberell
before it got lost, with nobody there to tend to things as they should
be tended to. "Have you any word to send?" she asked, hoping Katy had
relented.

But Katy had not; and with a toss of her head, which shook the raindrops
from her capeless shaker, Aunt Betsy went on her way, and was soon
confronting Morris, sitting just where Katy had left him, and looking
very pale and sad.

He was not glad to see Aunt Betsy. He would rather be alone until such
time as he could control himself and still his throbbing heart. But with
his usual affability, he bade Aunt Betsy sit down, shivering a little
when he saw her in the chair where Katy had sat, her thin, angular body
presenting a striking contrast to the graceful, girlish figure which had
sat there an hour since, and the huge India rubbers she held up to the
fire as unlike as possible to the boot of fairy dimensions he had
admired so much when it was drying on the hearth.

"I met Catherine," Aunt Betsy began, "and mistrusted at once that
something was to pay, for a girl don't leave her umberell in such a rain
and go cryin' home for nothin'."

Morris colored, resenting for an instant this interference by a third
party; but Aunt Betsy was so honest and simple-hearted that he could not
be angry long, and listened calmly while she continued:

"I have not lived sixty-odd years for nothing, and I know the signs
pretty well. I've been through the mill myself."

Here Aunt Betsy's voice grew lower in its tone, and Morris looked up
with real interest, while she went on:

"There's Joel Upham--you know Joel--keeps a tin shop now, and seats the
folks in meetin'. He asked me once for my company, and to be smart I
told him 'no,' when all the time I meant 'yes,' thinkin' he would ask
ag'in, but he didn't, and the next I knew he was keepin' company with
Patty Adams, now his wife. I remember I sniveled a little at being taken
at my word, but it served me right for saying one thing when I meant
another. However, it don't matter now. Joel is as clever as the day is
long, but he is a shiftless critter, never splits his kindlin's till
jest bedtime, and Patty is pestered to death for wood, while his snorin'
nights, she says, is awful, and that I never could abide; so, on the
whole, I'm better off than Patty."

Morris laughed a loud, hearty laugh, which did him good, and emboldened
his visitor to say more than she had intended saying:

"You just ask her ag'in. Once ain't nothing at all, and she'll come to.
She likes you; 'tain't that which made her say no. It's some foolish
idea about faithfulness to Wilford, as if he deserved that she should be
faithful. They never orto have had one another--never; and now that he
is well in heaven, as I do suppose he is, it ain't I who hanker for him
to come back. Neither does Katy, and all she needs is a little urging to
tell you yes. So ask her again, will you?"

"I think it very doubtful. Katy knew what she was doing, and meant what
she said," Morris replied; and with the consoling remark that if young
folks would be fools it was none of her business to bother with them,
Aunt Betsy pinned her shawl across her chest, and hunting up both basket
and umbrella, bade Morris good-night, and went back across the fields to
the farmhouse, hearing from Mrs. Lennox that Katy had gone to bed with a
racking headache.

"Just the way I felt when I heard about Joel and Patty," Aunt Betsy said
to herself, and as she remembered what had helped her then, so, fifteen
minutes later, she appeared at Katy's bedside, with a cup of strong sage
tea which she bade Katy swallow, telling her it was good for her
complaint.

To prevent being urged and annoyed, Katy drank the tea, and then without
a question concerning Aunt Betsy's call at Linwood, lay down upon her
pillow, asking to be left alone.



CHAPTER LII.

KATY.


"Are you of the same mind still?" Helen asked, when, three weeks later,
she returned from New York, and at the hour for retiring sat in her
chamber watching Katy as she brushed her wavy hair, occasionally curling
a tress around her fingers and letting it fall upon her snowy
nightdress.

They had been talking of Morris, whom Katy had only seen once since that
rainy night, and that at church, where he had come the previous Sunday.
Katy had written an account of the transaction to her sister, who had
chosen to reply by word of mouth rather than by letter, and so the first
moment they were alone she seized the opportunity to ask if Katy was of
the same mind still as when she refused the doctor.

"Yes; why shouldn't I be?" Katy replied. "You better than any one else
knew what passed between Wilford and me concerning Morris, and you
can--"

"Do you love Morris?" Helen asked, abruptly, without waiting for Katy to
finish her sentence.

For an instant the hands stopped in their work, and Katy's eyes filled
with tears, which dropped into her lap as she replied:

"More than I wish I did, seeing I must always tell him no. It's strange,
too, how the love for him keeps coming in spite of all I can do. I have
not been there since, nor spoken with him until last Sunday, but though
I did not know he was coming, I knew the moment he entered the church,
and when in the first chant I heard his voice, my fingers trembled so
that I could scarcely play, while all the time my heart goes out after
the rest I always find with him. But it cannot be."

"Suppose Morris had asked you first, what then?" was Helen's next
straightforward question, and Katy, who had no secrets from her sister,
answered:

"It might have been, perhaps, though I never thought of it then. Oh,
Helen, I wish Wilford had never known that Morris loved me."

She was sobbing now, with her head in Helen's lap, and Helen, smoothing
her bright hair, said, gently:

"You have taken a morbid fancy, Katy. You do not reason correctly. It is
right for you to answer Morris yes, and Wilford would say so, too. When
I received your letter apprising me of the refusal, I read it to Bell,
who said she was so sorry, and then told what Wilford said before he
died. You must have forgotten it, darling. He referred to a time when
you would cease to be his widow, and he said he was willing, said so to
her, and you. Do you remember it, Katy?"

"Yes, I do now, but I had forgotten. I was so stunned then, so
bewildered, that it made no impression. I did not think he meant Morris.
Helen, do you believe he meant Morris?" and lifting up her face, Katy
looked at her sister with a wistfulness which told how anxiously she
waited for the answer.

"I know that he meant Morris," Helen replied. "Bell thinks so, too. So
does her father, and both bade me tell you to revoke your decision, to
marry Dr. Grant, with whom you will be so happy."

"I cannot. It is too late. I told him no, and, Helen, I told him a
falsehood, too, which I wish I might take back," she added. "I said I
was sorry he ever loved me, when I was not, for the knowing that he had
made me very happy. My conscience has smitten me cruelly since for that
falsehood told, not intentionally, for I did not consider what I said."

Here was an idea at which Helen caught at once. She knew just how
conscientious Katy was, and by working upon this principle she hoped to
persuade her into going over to Linwood and telling Morris that when she
said she was sorry he loved her she did not mean it. But this Katy would
not do. Helen could tell him, if she liked, but she must not encourage
him to hope for a recantation of all she had said to him. She meant the
rest. She could not be his wife.

Early the next morning Helen went to Linwood, and the same afternoon
Morris returned her call. He had been there two or three times since his
return from Washington, but not since Katy's refusal, and her cheeks
were scarlet as he met him in the parlor and tried to be natural. He did
not look unhappy. He was not taking his rejection very hard, after all,
she thought, and the little lady felt a very little piqued to find him
so cheerful, and even gay, when she had scarcely known a moment's quiet
since the day she carried him the custards, and forgot to bring away her
umbrella. As it had rained that day, so it did now, a decided, energetic
rain, which set in after Morris came, and precluded the possibility of
his going home that night.

"He would catch his death of cold," Aunt Betsy said, while Helen, too,
joined her entreaties until Morris consented, and the carriage which
came around for him at dark returned to Linwood, with the message that
the doctor would pass the night at Deacon Barlow's. A misty, rainy
night, who does not enjoy it when sitting by a cheerful fire, they
listen dreamily to the falling rain sifting softly through the leafless
trees, and answering to the faint sighing of the autumn wind. Morris
enjoyed it very much, and but for the green glasses he still wore would
have looked and appeared like his former self as he sat in his armchair,
now holding the skein of yarn which Aunt Betsy wound, now talking with
the deacon of the probable exchange of all the prisoners, a theme which
quickened Helen's pulse and sent the blood to her pale cheeks, and again
standing by Katy as she played his favorite airs, his rich bass voice
mingling with hers and Helen's, the three making finer music, Aunt Betsy
said, than that for which she paid two dollars at the playhouse.

He did not often address Katy directly, but he knew each time she moved,
and watched every varying expression of her face, feeling a kind of pity
for her, when without appearing to do so intentionally, the family, one
by one, stole from the room--Uncle Ephraim and Aunt Hannah without any
excuse; Aunt Betsy to raise the cakes for breakfast; Mrs. Lennox to
wind the clock, and Helen to find a book for which Morris had asked.

Katy might not have thought strange of their departure were it not that
neither one came back again, and after the lapse of ten minutes or more
she felt convinced that she had purposely been left alone with Morris.

The weather and the family had conspired against her, but after one
throb of fear she resolved to brave the difficulty and meet whatever
might happen as became a woman of twenty-three, and a widow, too. She
knew Morris was regarding her intently as she fashioned into shape the
coarse wool sock, intended for some soldier, and she could almost hear
her heart beat in the silence which fell between them ere Morris said to
her, in a tone which reassured her at once:

"And so you told me a falsehood the other day, and your conscience has
troubled you ever since?"

"Yes, Morris," and Katy dropped her stitch as she replied. "Yes; that
is, I told you I was sorry that you ever loved me, which was not exactly
true, for, after I knew you did, I was happier than before."

Her words implied a knowledge of his love previous to that night at
Linwood when he had himself confessed it, and he said to her,
inquiringly:

"You knew it then before I told you?"

"From Wilford--yes," Katy faltered, a tear dropping on her cheek as she
recalled the circumstances of Wilford's telling her.

"I understand now why you have been so shy of me," Morris said. "It was
only natural you should be until you knew what my intentions were; but,
Katy, must this shyness continue always? Think now, and say if you did
not tell more than one falsehood the other night, as you count
falsehoods."

Katy looked wonderingly at him, and he continued;

"You said you could not be my wife. Was that true? Can't you take it
back, and give me a different answer?"

Katy's checks were scarlet, and her hands had ceased to flutter about
the knitting which lay upon her lap.

"I meant what I said," she whispered; "for knowing, as I do, how Wilford
felt, it would not be right for me to be so happy."

"Then it's nothing personal? If there were no harrowing memories of
Wilford, you could be happy with me. Is that it, Katy?" Morris asked,
coming close to her now, and imprisoning her hands, which she did not
try to take away, but let them lie in his as he continued: "Wilford was
willing at the last. Have you forgotten that?"

"I had, until Helen reminded me." Katy replied. "But, Morris, the
talking of this thing brings Wilford's death back so vividly, making it
seem but yesterday since I held his dying head."

She was beginning to relent, Morris knew, and bending nearer to her, he
said:

"It was not yesterday. It will be two years in February; and this, you
know, is November. I need you, Katy. I want you so much. I have wanted
you all your life. Before it was wrong to do so I used each day to pray
that God would give you to me, and now I feel just as sure that he has
opened the way for you to come to me as I am sure that Wilford is in
heaven. He is happy there, and shall a morbid fancy keep you from being
happy here? Tell me then, Katy, will you be my wife?"

He was kissing her cold hands, and as he did so he felt her tears
dropping on his hair.

"If I say yes, Morris, you will not think that I never loved Wilford,
for I did, oh yes, I did. Not exactly as I supposed I might, even then,
have loved you, had you asked me first, but I loved him, and I was happy
with him, or if there were little clouds, his dying swept them all
away."

Katy was proving herself a true woman, who remembered only the good
there was in Wilford, and Morris did not love her less for it. She was
all the dearer to him, all the more desirable. Once he told her so,
winding his arms about her, and resting her head upon his shoulder,
where it lay just as it had never lain before, for with the first kiss
Morris gave her, calling her "My own little Katy," she felt stealing
over her the same indescribable peace she had always felt with him,
intensified now, and sweeter from the knowing it would remain if she
should will it so. And she did will it so, kissing Morris back when he
asked her to, and thus sealing the compact of her second betrothal. It
was not exactly like the first. There was no tumultuous emotions, or
ecstatic joys, but Katy felt in her inmost heart that she was happier
now than then, that between herself and Morris there was more affinity
than there had been between herself and Wilford, and as she looked back
over the road she had come, and remembered all Morris had been to her,
she wondered at her blindness in not recognizing and responding to the
love in which she had now found shelter.

It was very late that night when Katy crept up to bed, and Helen, who
was not asleep, knew by the face on which the lamplight fell, as Katy
sat for a moment in thoughtful mood, looking out into the darkness, that
Morris had not sued in vain. Aunt Betsy knew it, too, next morning, by
the same look on Katy's face, when she came downstairs, but this did not
prevent her saying, abruptly, as Katy stood by the sink:

"Be you two engaged?"

"We are," was Katy's frank reply, which brought back all Aunt Betsy's
visions of roasted fowls and frosted cake, and maybe a dance in the
kitchen, to say nothing of the feather bed which she had not dared to
offer Katy Cameron, but which she thought would come in play for "Miss
Dr. Grant."



CHAPTER LIII.

THE PRISONERS.


Many of the captives were coming home. Prison after prison had given up
its starving, vermin-eaten inmates, while all along the Northern lines
loving hearts were waiting, and friendly hands outstretched to welcome
them back to "God's land," as the poor, suffering creatures termed the
soil over which waved the Stars and Stripes, for which they had fought
so bravely. Wistfully, thousands of eyes ran over the long columns of
names of those returned, each eye seeking for its own, and growing dim
with tears as it failed to find it, or lighting up with untold joy when
it was found.

"Lieutenant Robert Reynolds" and "Thomas Tubbs," Helen read among the
list of those just arrived at Annapolis, but "Captain Mark Ray" was not
there, and with a sickening feeling of disappointment she passed the
paper to her mother-in-law, and hastened away, to weep and pray that
what she so greatly feared might not come upon her.

It was after Katy's betrothal, and she was in New York, happy to hear
news from Mark, and perhaps to see him ere long, for, as nearly as she
could trace him from reports of others, he was last at Andersonville.
But there was no mention made of him, no sign by which she could tell
whether he still lived, or had long since been relieved from suffering.

Early the next day she heard that Mattie Tubbs had received a telegram
from Tom, who would soon be at home, while later in the day Bell Cameron
came around to say that Bob was living, but had lost his right arm, and
was otherwise badly crippled. It never occurred to Helen to ask if this
would make a difference. She only kissed Bell fondly, rejoicing at her
good fortune, and then sent her back to the home where there were hot
discussions regarding the propriety of receiving into the family a
maimed and crippled member.

"It was preposterous to suppose Bob would expect it," Juno said, while
the mother admitted that it was a most unfortunate affair, as indeed the
whole war had proved. For her part, she sometimes wished the North had
let the South go quietly when they wanted to, and so saved thousands of
lives, and prevented the country from being flooded with cripples, and
negroes, and calls for more men and money. On the whole, she rather
doubted the propriety of re-electing Lincoln, and prolonging the war;
and she certainly doubted the propriety of giving her daughter to a
cripple. There was Arthur Grey, who had lately been so attentive; he was
a wealthier man than Lieutenant Bob, and if Bell had any discretion she
would take him in preference to a disfigured soldier.

Such was the purport of Mrs. Cameron's remarks, to which her husband
listened, his eyes blazing with passion, which, the moment she finished,
burst forth in a storm of oaths and invectives against what, with his
pet adjective, he called her "Copperhead principles," denouncing her as
a traitor, reproaching her for the cruelty which would separate her
daughter from Robert Reynolds because he had lost an arm in the service
of his country, and then turning fiercely to Bell with the words:

"But it isn't for you to say whether he shall or shall not have Bell.
She is of age. Let her speak for herself."

And she did speak, the noble, heroic girl, who had listened, with bitter
scorn, to what her mother and sister said, and who now, with elevated
nostrils and voice hoarse with emotion, answered slowly and
impressively:

"I would marry Lieutenant Reynolds if he had only his ears left to hear
me tell him how much I love and honor him! Arthur Grey! Don't talk to me
of him! the craven coward, who will neither volunteer nor give a cent
for our poor, suffering soldiers, but turns people off with: 'Government
provides,' or 'the stores do not reach them,' and all those subterfuges
to which mean men resort to keep from giving, and to avoid the draft
swore he was forty-five, when we all know better. Don't insult Robert
with such a comparison, or think I will break my faith with him."

After this no more was said to Bell, who waited anxiously for further
news from Bob, and who, the moment she heard he was at home, went to his
father's house, and asked to see him.

He was sleeping when she entered his room, and pushing back the heavy
curtain, so that the light would fall more directly upon him, Mrs.
Reynolds went out and left her there alone.

With a beating heart, she stood looking at his hollow eyes, his sunken
cheek, his short, dry hair, and thick, gray skin--all marks of the
brutal treatment he had received. She did not think of his arm until she
glanced at the wall where hung a large-sized photograph, taken in full
uniform the last time he was at home, and in which his full,
well-developed figure showed to good advantage. Could it be that the
wreck before her had ever been as full of life and vigor as the picture
would indicate, and was that arm which held the sword severed from the
body, and left a token of the murderous war?

"Poor Bob! how much he must have suffered," she whispered, and kneeling
down beside him, she hid her face in her hands, weeping bitter tears
for her armless hero.

The motion awakened Robert, who gazed for a moment in surprise at the
kneeling, sobbing maiden; then, when sure it was she, he raised himself
in bed, and ere Bell could look up, two arms, one quite as strong as the
other, were wound around her neck, and her head was pillowed upon the
breast, which heaved with strong emotions as the soldier said:

"My darling Bell, my promised wife, you don't know how much good this
meeting does me!"

He kissed her many times, and Bell did not prevent it, but gave him kiss
after kiss, then, still doubting the evidence of her eyes, she unclasped
his clinging arms, and holding both his poor hands in hers, gave vent to
a second gush of tears as she said:

"I am so glad--oh, so glad!"

Then, as it occurred to her that he might perhaps misjudge her, and put
a wrong construction upon her joy, she added:

"I did not care for myself, Robert. Don't think I cared for myself, or
was ever sorry a bit on my own account."

Bob looked a little bewildered as he replied: "Never were sorry and
never cared! I can scarcely credit that, for surely your tears and
present emotions belie your words."

Bell knew he had not understood her, and she said:

"Your arm, Robert, your arm. We heard it was cut off, and that you were
otherwise mutilated."

"Oh, that's it, then!" and something like his old, mischievous smile
glimmered about Bob's mouth as he added: "They spared my arms, but,
Bell"--and he tried to look very solemn--"suppose I tell you that they
hacked off both my legs, and if you marry me, as you seem to think you
will, you must walk all your life by the side of wooden pins and
crutches?"

Bell knew by the curl of his lip that he was teasing her, and she
answered, laughingly:

"Wooden pins and crutches will be all the fashion when the war is over;
badges of honor of which any woman might be proud."

"Well, Bell," he replied, "I am afraid there is no such honor in store
for my wife, for if I ever get back my strength and the flesh upon my
bones, she must take me with legs and arms included. Not even a scratch
or wound of any kind with which to awaken sympathy."

He appeared very bright and cheerful, but when, after a moment, Bell
asked for Mark Ray, there came a shadow over his face, and with
quivering lips he told a tale which blanched Bell's cheek, and made her
shiver with pain and dread as she thought of Helen, the wife who had
never known the sweets of matrimony, and who would never taste them now,
for Mark was dead--shot down as he attempted to escape from the train
which took them from one place of torment to another. He was always
devising means of escape, succeeding several times, but was immediately
captured and brought back, or sent to some closer quarters, Robert said;
but his courage never deserted him, and in the muddy, filthy place where
they were herded like so many cattle, without shelter of any kind, he
was the life of them all, and by his presence kept many a poor fellow
from dying of homesickness and despair. But he was dead; there could be
no mistake, for Robert saw him when he jumped, heard the ball which went
whizzing after him, saw him as he fell on the open field, saw a man from
a rude dwelling nearby go hurriedly toward him, firing his own revolver,
as if to make the death deed doubly sure. Then, as the train slacked its
speed, with the view, perhaps, to take the body on board, he heard the
man who had reached Mark and was bending over him, call out: "Go on;
I'll tend to him. He is dead as a stone; bullet went right through
here," and he turned the dead man's face toward the train, so all could
see the blood pouring from the temple which the finger of the rebel
ruffian touched.

"Oh, Helen! poor Helen! How can I tell her, when she loved him so much!"
Bell sobbed, while Bob repeated many things to prove how strong was the
love the unfortunate Mark Ray had borne for his young wife.

"He used to make pictures of her," he said, "with a pencil which he had,
and once he whittled out her face with a lily in the hair. It was a good
likeness, too, and I saw Mark kiss it more than once when he thought he
was not seen. He had her photograph, it seems, but a brutal keeper took
it away, for no earthly purpose except to distress him. I never saw Mark
cast down till then, when for two whole days he scarcely spoke, but
would stand for hours with his face turned toward the North, and a
quivering motion around his lips, as if his heart were broken."

Bell could hear no more, but motioned him to stop.

"It's too terrible even to think about," she said. "Oh, how can I tell
Helen!"

"You will do it better than any one else," Bob said. "You will be very
tender with her; and, Bell, tell her, as some consolation, that he did
not break with the treatment, as most of us wretches did; he kept up
wonderfully--said he was perfectly well--and, indeed, he looked so. Tom
Tubbs, who was his shadow, clinging to him with wonderful fidelity, will
corroborate what I have said. He was with us, he saw him, and only
animal force prevented him from leaping from the car and going to him
where he fell. I shall never forget his shriek of agony at the sight of
that blood-stained face turned an instant toward us."

"Don't, don't!" Bell cried again; "I can't endure it!" and as Mrs.
Reynolds then came in, she left her lover, and with a foreboding heart,
started for Mrs. Banker's, meeting on the steps Tom Tubbs himself, who
had come on an errand similar to her own.

"Sit here in the hall a moment," she said to him, as the servant
admitted them both. "I must see Mrs. Ray first."

Helen was reading to her mother-in-law, but she laid down her book and
came to welcome Bell, detecting at once the agitation in her manner and
asking if she had had bad news from Robert.

"No, Robert is at home; I have just come from there, and he told me--oh!
Helen, can you bear it?--Mark is dead--shot twice as he jumped from the
train taking him to another prison, Robert saw it, and knew that he was
dead."

Bell could get no further, for Helen, who had never fainted in her life,
did so now, lying senseless so long that the physician began to think it
would be a mercy if she never came back to life, for her reason, he
fancied, had fled. But Helen did come back to life with reason
unimpaired, and insisted upon hearing every detail of the dreadful
story, both from Bell and Tom. The latter confirmed all Lieutenant
Reynolds had said, besides adding many items of his own. Mark was dead,
there could be no doubt of it; but with the tenacity of a strong,
hopeful nature, the mother clung to the illusion that possibly the ball
stunned, instead of killing--that he would yet come back; and many a
time, as the days went by, that mother started at a step upon the walk
or ring of the bell, which she fancied might be his, hearing him
sometimes calling in the night storm for her to let him in, and hurrying
down to the door only to be disappointed, and go back to her lonely room
to weep the dark night through.

With Helen there were no such illusions. After talking calmly and
rationally with both Robert and Tom, she knew her husband was dead, and
never watched and waited for him as his mother did. She had heard from
Mark's companions in suffering all they had to tell, of his captivity,
and his love for her which manifested itself in so many different ways.
Passionately she had wept over the tress of faded hair which Tom Tubbs
brought to her, saying: "He cut it from his head just before we left the
prison, and told me if he never got home and I did, to give the lock to
you, and say that all was well between him and God--that your prayers
had saved him. He wanted you to know that, because, he said, it would
comfort you most of all."

And it did comfort her, so that she could almost say with a full heart:
"Thy will be done," when she looked up at the clear, wintry heavens and
thought that her lost one was there. It was her first real trial, and it
crushed her with its magnitude so that she could not submit at once, and
many a cry of desolate agony broke the silence of her room, where the
whole night through she sat musing of the past, and raining kisses upon
the little lock of hair which from the Southern prison had come to her,
sole relic of the husband so dearly loved and truly mourned. How faded
it was from the rich brown she remembered so well, and Helen gazing at
it could realize in part the suffering and want which had worn so many
precious lives away. It was strange she never dreamed of him. She often
prayed that she might, so as to drive from her mind, if possible, the
picture of the prostrate form upon the low, damp field, and the
blood-stained face turned in its mortal agony toward the Southern sky
and the pitiless foe above it. So she always saw him, shuddering as she
wondered if the foe had buried him decently or left his bones to bleach
upon the open plain.

Poor Helen, she was widowed indeed, and it needed not the badge of
mourning to tell how terribly she was bereaved. But the badge was there,
too, for in spite of the hope which said "he is not dead," Mrs. Banker
yielded to Helen's importunities, and clothed herself and
daughter-in-law in the habiliments of woe, still waiting, still
watching, still listening for the step she should recognize so quickly,
still looking down the street; but looking, alas! in vain. The winter
passed away. Captive after captive came home, heart after heart was
cheered by the returning loved one, but for the inmates of No. ---- the
heavy cloud grew blacker, for the empty chair by the hearth remained
unoccupied, and the aching hearts uncheered. Mark Ray did not come back.



CHAPTER LIV.

THE DAY OF THE WEDDING.


Those first warm days of March, 1865, when spring and summer seemed to
kiss each other and join hands for a brief space of time, how balmy, how
still, how pleasant they were, and how bright the farmhouse looked,
where preparations for Katy's second bridal were going rapidly forward.
Aunt Betsy, as chief directress, was in her element, for now had come
the reality of the vision she had seen so long, of house turned upside
down in one grand onslaught of suds and sand, then righted again by
magic power, and smelling very sweet and clean from its recent
ablutions--of turkeys dying in the barn, of chickens in the shed, of
ovens heating in the kitchen, of loaves of frosted cake, with cards and
cards of snowy biscuit piled upon the pantry shelf--of jellies, tarts
and chicken salad--of home-made wine and home-brewed beer, with tea and
coffee, portioned out and ready for the pots, the latter mixed with
fresh-laid eggs, and smelling strongly of old Java, and the former as
fragrant as two and one-half dollars per pound could buy.

Aunt Betsy was very happy, for this, the brightest, balmiest day of all,
was Katy's wedding day, and in the dining-room the table was already set
with the new chinaware and silver, a joint Christmas gift from Helen and
Katy to their good Aunt Hannah, as real mistress of the house.

"Not plated-ware, but the gen-oo-ine article," Aunt Betsy had explained
at least twenty times to those who came to see the silver, and she
handled it proudly now as she took it from the flannel bags where Mrs.
Deacon Bannister said it must be kept, and placed it on a side table.

The coffee-urn was Katy's, so was the teakettle and the massive pitcher,
but the rest was "ours," Aunt Betsy complacently reflected as she
contemplated the glittering array, end then hurried off to see what was
burning on the stove, or "spell" Uncle Ephraim, working industriously at
the ice-cream, out on the back stoop, stumbling over Morris as she went,
and telling him he had come too soon--it was not fittin' for him to be
there under foot until he was wanted.

Morris probably thought he was wanted, by one member of the family at
least, and without replying directly to Aunt Betsy, he knocked with a
vast amount of assurance at a side door, which opened directly, and
Katy's glowing face looked out, and Katy's voice was heard, not telling
him he was not wanted, but saying, joyfully:

"Oh, Morris, it's you. I'm so glad you've come, for I wanted--"

But what she wanted was drowned by a succession of certain mysterious
sounds, such as are only produced by a collision of lips, and which made
Aunt Betsy mutter to herself:

"It's all right, I know, but so much kissin' as I've seen the last
fortni't is enough to turn a body's stomach. I guess old bachelders and
widders is commonly wus than fresh hands at it."

And having thus expressed her thoughts, Aunt Betsy seized the handle of
the ice-cream freezer and turned it vigorously, thinking, perhaps, of
Joel Upham, and what might have been but for a freak of hers. Meanwhile
Morris and Katy sat alone in the little sewing-room, where latterly they
had passed so many quiet hours together, and where lay the bridal dress,
with its chaste and simple decorations. Katy had clung tenaciously to
her mourning robes, asking, half tearfully, if she might wear black, as
ladies sometimes did. But Morris had promptly answered no. His bride, if
she came to him willingly, must not come clad in widow's weeds, for when
she became his wife she would cease to be a widow.

And so the black was laid aside, and Katy, in soft tinted colors, with
her bright hair curling in her neck, looked as girlish and beautiful as
if in Greenwood there were no pretentious monument, with Wilford's name
upon it, nor any little grave in Silverton where Baby Cameron slept. She
had been both wife and mother, but she was quite as dear to Morris as if
she had never borne other name than Katy Lennox, and as he held her for
a moment closely to his heart, he thanked God, who had at last given to
him the idol of his boyhood and the love of his later years. Across
their pathway no shadow was lying, except when they remembered Helen, on
whom the mantle of widowhood had so darkly fallen just as Katy was
throwing it off.

Poor Helen, the tears always crept to Katy's eyes when, she thought of
her, and now as she saw her steal across the road and strike into the
winding path which led to the pasture where the pines and hemlock grew,
she nestled closer to Morris, and whispered:

"Sometimes I think it wrong to be so happy when Helen is so sad. I pity
her so much to-day."

And Helen was to be pitied, for her heart was aching to its very core.
She had tried to keep up through the preparations for Katy's bridal,
tried to seem interested, and even cheerful, while all the time a hidden
agony was tugging at her heart, and life seemed a heavier burden than
she could bear.

All her portion of the work was finished now, and in the balmy
brightness of that warm April afternoon she went into the fields where
she could be alone beneath the soft, summer-like sky, and pour out her
pent-up anguish into the ear of Him who had so often soothed and
comforted her when other aids had failed. Last night, for the first time
since she heard the dreadful news, she had dreamed of Mark, and when she
awoke she still felt the pressure of his lips upon her brow, the touch
of his arm upon her waist, and the thrilling clasp of his warm hand as
it pressed and held her own. But that was a dream, a cruel delusion, and
its memory made the day more dark and dreary as she went more slowly up
the beaten path, pausing once beneath a chestnut tree and leaning her
throbbing head against the shaggy bark as she heard in the distance the
shrill whistle of the downward train from Albany, and thought, as she
always did when she heard that whistle, "Oh, if that heralded Mark's
return, how happy I should be." But many a sound like that had echoed
across the Silverton hills, bringing no hope to her, and now, as it
again died away in the Cedar Swamp, she pursued her way up the path till
she reached the long, white ledge of rocks where with Katy she used to
play, and where Bell Cameron had come with Lieutenant Bob, while Morris,
too, had more than once led Katy there since the weather was so fine.

"The Lovers' Rock," some called it, for village boys and maidens knew
the place, repairing to it often, whispering their vows beneath the
overhanging pines, which whispered back again, and told the winds the
story which, though so old, is always new to her who listens to him who
tells.

Just underneath the spreading pine there was a large, flat stone, and
there Helen sat down, gazing sadly upon the valley below, and the clear
waters of Fairy Pond gleaming in the April sunshine, which lay so warmly
on the grassy hills and flashed so brightly from the cupola at Linwood,
where the national flag was flying. For a time Helen watched the banner
as it shook its folds to the breeze, then, as she remembered with what a
fearful price that flag had been saved from foul dishonor, she hid her
face in her hands and sobbed bitterly:

"God help me not to begrudge the price or think I paid too dearly for my
country's rights. Oh, Mark, my murdered husband, I may be wrong, but you
were dearer to me than many, many countries, and it is hard to give you
up--hard to know that the notes of peace which even now float up to us
from the South will not waken you in that grave which I can never see.
Oh, Mark, my darling, my darling, I loved you so much, I miss you so
much, I want you so much. God help me to bear. God help me to say, 'Thy
will be done.'"

She was rocking to and fro in her grief, with her hands pressed over her
face, as she thus moaned out a prayer that God would help her to feel,
as well as to say, "Thy will be done," and for a long time she sat there
thus, while the sun crept on further toward the west, and the freshened
breeze shook the tasseled pine above her head and kissed the bands of
rich brown hair, from which her hat had fallen. She did not heed the
lapse of time in the earnest prayer she breathed for entire submission
to God's will, nor did she hear the footstep coming up the pathway to
the ledge where she was sitting, the footstep which paused at intervals,
as if the comer were weary, or else in quest of some one, but which at
last came on with rapid bounds as an opening among the trees showed
where Helen sat. It was a tall young man who came, a young man sunburned
and scarred, with uniform soiled and worn, but with the fire in his
brown eyes unquenched, the love in his true heart unchanged, save as it
was deeper, more intense for the years of separation, and the long,
cruel suspense which was all over now. The grave had given up its dead,
the captive was released, and through incredible suffering and danger
had reached his Northern home, had sought and found his girl-wife of a
few hours, for it was Mark Ray speeding up the path, and holding back
his breath as he came close to the bowed form on the rock, feeling a
strange throb of awe when he saw the mourning dress, and knew it was
worn for him. A moment more, and she lay in his arms, white and
insensible, for with the sudden winding of his arms around her neck, the
pressure of his lips upon her cheek, the calling of her name, and the
knowing it was really her husband, she had uttered a wild, impassioned
cry, half of terror, half of joy, and fainted entirely away, just as she
did when told that he was dead! There was no water near, but with loving
words and soft caresses, Mark brought her back to life, raining both
tears and kisses upon the dear face which had grown so white and thin
since the Christmas Eve when the wintry starlight had looked down upon
their parting. For several moments neither could speak for the great
choking joy which wholly precluded the utterance of a word. Helen was
the first to rally, and lying in Mark's lap, with her head pillowed on
Mark's arm, she whispered:

"Let us thank God together. You, too, have learned to pray."

Reverently Mark bent his face to hers, and the pine boughs overhead
heard, instead of mourning notes, a prayer of praise, as the reunited
wife and husband fervently thanked God, who had brought them together
again.

Not until nearly half an hour was gone, and Helen had begun to realize
that the arm which held her so tightly was genuine flesh and blood, and
not a mere delusion, did she look up into the face, glowing with so much
of happiness and love. Upon the forehead, and just beneath the hair,
there was a savage scar, and the flesh about it was red and angry still,
showing how sore and painful it must have been, and making Helen shudder
as she touched it with her lips, and said:

"Poor, darling Mark! that's where the cruel ball entered; but where is
the other scar--the one made by the man who went to you in the fields,
and who also fired, they said. I have tried so hard to hate him for
firing at a fallen foe."

"Rather, pray for him, darling. Bless him as the savior of your
husband's life, the noble fellow but for whom I should not have been
here now, for he was a Unionist, as true to the old flag as Abraham
himself," Mark Ray replied; and then, as Helen looked wonderingly at
him, he laid her head in an easier position upon his shoulder, and told
her a story so strange in its details that but for the frequent
occurrence of similar incidents it would be pronounced wholly unreal and
false.

Of what he suffered in the Southern prisons he did not speak, either
then or ever after, but began with the day when, with a courage born of
desperation, he jumped from the moving train, and was shot down by the
guard. Partially stunned, he still, retained sense enough to know when
a tall form bent over him, and to hear the rough but kindly voice which
said:

"Play 'possum, Yank. Make b'lieve you're dead, and throw them hellhounds
off the scent."

This was the last he knew for many weeks, and when again he awoke to
consciousness he found himself on the upper floor of a dilapidated hut,
which stood in the center of a little wood, his bed a pile of straw,
over which was spread a clean patchwork quilt, while seated at his side,
and watching him intently, was the same man who had bent over him in the
field, and shouted to the rebels that he was dead.

"I shall never forget my sensations then," Mark said, "for, with the
exception of this present hour, when I hold you, my darling, in my arms,
and know the danger is over, I never experienced a moment of greater
happiness and rest than when, up in that squalid garret, where the
rafters, festooned with cobwebs and dust, could be touched by stretching
out my hand, and where the sunlight only found an entrance through an
aperture in the roof, which admitted the rain as well, I came back to
life again, the pain in my head all gone, and nothing left save a
delicious feeling of languor, which prompted me to lie quietly for
several minutes, examining my surroundings, and speculating upon the
chance which brought me there. That I was a prisoner I did not doubt,
until the man at my side said to me, cheerily: 'Well, old chap, you've
come through it like a major, though I was mighty dubious a spell about
that pesky ball. But old Aunt Bab and me fished it out, and since then
you've begun to mend.'

"'Where am I? Who are you?' I asked, and he replied: 'Who be I? Why, I'm
Jack Jennin's, the rarinest, red-hottest secesh thar is in these yere
parts, so the rebs thinks; but 'twixt you and me, boy, I'm the tallest
kind of a Union--got a piece of the old flag sewed inside of my boots,
and every night before sleepin' I prays Lord gin Abe the victory,' and
raise Cain generally in t'other camp, and forgive Jack Jennin's for
tellin' so many lies, and makin' b'leeve he's one thing, when you know
and he knows he's t'other. If I've spared one Union chap, I'll bet I
have a hundred, me and old Bab, a black woman who lives here and tends
to the cases I fotch her, till we contrive to git 'em inter Tennessee,
whar they hev to shift for themselves.'

"I could only press his bony hand in token of my gratitude, while he
went on to say: 'Them was beans I fired at you that day, but they sarved
every purpose, and them scalliwags on the train s'pose you were put
under ground weeks ago, if, indeed, you wasn't left to rot in the sun,
as heaps and heaps on 'em is. Nobody knows you are here but Bab and me,
and nobody must know if you want to git off with a whole hide. I could
git a hundred dollars by givin' you up, but you don't s'pose Jack
Jennin's is agwine to do that ar infernal trick? No, sir,' and he
brought his brawny fist down upon his knee with a force which made me
tremble, while I tried to express my thanks for his great kindness. He
was a noble man, Helen, while Aunt Bab, the colored woman, who nursed me
so tenderly, and whose black, bony hands I kissed at parting, was as
true a woman as any with a fairer skin and more beautiful exterior.

"For three weeks longer I stayed up in that loft, and in that time three
more escaped prisoners were brought there, and one Union refugee from
North Carolina. We left in company one wild, rainy night, when the storm
and darkness must have been sent for our special protection, and Jack
Jennings cried like a little child when he bade me good-by, promising,
if he survived the war, to find his way to the North and visit me in New
York. I should be prouder, Helen, to welcome him to our home than to
entertain the Emperor of France, while Bab should have a seat at my own
table, and I be honored by it. There are many such noble spirits there,
and when I remember them, I wish to spare a land which I once hoped
might be burned with fire until no trace was left. We found them
everywhere, and especially among the mountains of Tennessee, where, but
for their timely aid, we had surely been recaptured. The negroes, too,
were powerful helps, and in no single case has a black man proved
treacherous to his suffering white brother, I was not an Abolitionist
when the war broke out, but I am one now, and to see the negro free I
would almost spill my last drop of blood. They are a patient,
all-enduring, faithful race, and without them the bones of many a poor
wretch who now sits by his own fireside and recounts the perils he has
escaped, would whiten in the Southern swamps or on the Southern
mountains. Three times were we chased by bloodhounds, and in every case
the negroes were the means of saving us from certain death. For weeks we
were hidden in a cave, hunted by the Confederates by day, and fed at
night by negroes, who told us when and where to go. With blistered feet
and bruised limbs, we reached the lines at last, when fever attacked me
for the second time and brought me near to death. Somebody wrote to you,
but you never received it, and when I grew better I would not let them
write again, as I wanted to surprise you. As soon as I was able I
started North, my thoughts full of the joyful meeting in store--a
meeting which I dreaded, too, for I knew you must think me dead, and I
felt so sorry for you, my darling, knowing, as I did, you would mourn
for your soldier husband. That my darling has mourned is written on her
face, and needs no words to tell it; but that is over now," Mark said,
folding his wife closer to him, and kissing the pale lips which
whispered:

"Yes, I have been so sorry, Mark--so tired, so sad, and life was such a
burden, I would gladly have laid it down."

"The burden is now removed," Mark said, and then he told her how,
arrived at Albany, he had telegraphed to his mother, asking where Helen
was.

"In Silverton," was the reply, and so he came on in the morning train,
meeting his mother in Springfield, as he had half expected to do,
knowing that she could leave New York in time to join him there.

"No words of mine," he said, "are adequate to describe the thrill of joy
with which I looked again upon the hills and rocks so identified with
you that I loved them for your sake, hailing them as old, familiar
friends, and actually growing sick and faint with excitement when,
through the leafless woods, I caught the gleam of Fairy Pond, where I
gathered the lilies for you. Does my darling remember it?"

He knew she did by the clasp of her hand, and he continued:

"Had a dead body risen from its grave, and walked into the farmhouse,
carrying its coffin with it, it could not have created greater
consternation, or made worse havoc with the people's wits than did my
sudden appearance in their midst. Good Aunt Betsy, I am sorry to say,
fell the entire length of the cellar stairs, spraining her ankle,
bruising her elbow shockingly, and, direst calamity of all, in her
estimation, breaking the dish of charlotte russe she was holding in her
hand. There is a wedding in progress, I learned from mother, and it
seems very meet that I should come at this time, making, in reality, a
double wedding, when I can truly claim my bride," and Mark kissed Helen
passionately, laughing to see how the blushes broke over her white face,
and burned upon her neck.

Those were happy moments which they passed together upon that ledge of
rocks, happy enough to atone for all the dreadful past, and when at last
they arose and slowly retraced their steps to the farmhouse, it seemed
to Mark that Helen's cheeks were rounder, fuller, than when he found
her, while Helen knew that the arm on which she leaned was stronger than
when it first inclosed her an hour or two ago.



CHAPTER LV.

THE WEDDING.


Many times Aunt Betsy had hobbled to the door, and shading her eyes with
her hand, had looked wistfully up the hill in quest of Mark and Helen,
wondering why they stayed out so long, when they must know the sun was
nearly down, and wondering next if Morris would never go home about his
business and give Katy a chance to dress.

Poor, worried, unfortunate Aunt Betsy! her foot was very lame, and her
arm was badly bruised; but she bandaged it up in camphor and sugar,
wincing at the terrible smart when the wash was at first applied, but
saying to Morris, who asked if it did not hurt cruelly: "Yes, it hurts
some, but nothin' to what the poor soldiers is hurt; and I wouldn't mind
it an atom if I hadn't broke the dish with the heathenish name."

And, indeed, the loss of the charlotte russe did weigh heavily on Aunt
Betsy's mind, proving the straw too many, and only Bell Cameron, who,
with Lieutenant Bob, had come on the same train with Mark and Mrs.
Banker, had power to reassure her by telling her that charlotte russe
was not essential at all; that, for her part, she was glad to have it
out of sight, as it was her especial detestation. This comforted Aunt
Betsy, who had made many of her preparations for the wedding with a
direct reference to the "city folks" so confidently expected. The
substantials were for the neighbors--those who would have no supper at
home, but reserve their appetites for the wedding viands; while the
delicacies, the knickknacks, were designed exclusively for "them
stuck-up critters, the Camerons," not one of whom, it now seemed, would
be present except Bell. Father Cameron was not able to come; he would
gladly have done so if he could, and he sent his blessing to Katy, with
the wish that she might be very happy in her second married life. This
message Bell gave to Katy, and then tried to form some reasonable excuse
for her mother's and Juno's absence, for she could not tell how
haughtily both had declined the invitation, Juno finding fault because
Katy had not waited longer than two years, and Mrs. Cameron blaming her
for being so very vulgar as to be married at home, instead of in church,
where she ought to be. On this point Katy herself had been a little
disquieted, feeling how much more appropriate it was that she be married
in the church, but shrinking from standing again a bride at the same
altar where she had once before been made a wife. She could not do it,
she finally decided; there would be too many harrowing memories crowding
upon her mind, and as Morris did not particularly care where the
ceremony was performed, provided he got Katy at the last, it was settled
that it should be at the house, even though Mrs. Deacon Bannister did
say that she had supposed Dr. Grant too High Church to do anything as
Presbyterianny as that.

Bell's arrival at the farmhouse was timely, for the unexpected
appearance in their midst of one whom they looked upon as surely dead
had stunned and bewildered the family to such an extent that it needed
the presence of just such a matter-of-fact, self-possessed woman as
Bell to bring things back to their original shape. It was wonderful how
the city girl fitted into the vacant niches, seeing to everything which
needed seeing to, and still finding time to steal away alone with
Lieutenant Bob, who kept her in a painful state of blushing by
constantly wishing it was his bridal night as well as Dr. Grant's, and
by inveighing against the weeks which must still intervene ere the day
appointed for the grand ceremony to take place in Grace Church, and
which was to make Bell his wife.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Ain't Morris ever goin' home? He won't be dressed in time, as sure as
the world, if he stays here much longer," Aunt Betsy said a dozen times,
until at last her patience was exhausted, and going boldly in where he
was, she bade him start in at once, or he would not have time to put on
his best coat and jacket, let alone Katy's changin' her clothes.

Thus importuned, Morris quitted the house, just as Mark and Helen came
slowly up, their faces happier, if possible, than his own, and telling
of the great joy which had succeeded their dark night of sorrow.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Come in here, Helen, I have something to show you," Mrs. Banker said,
after she had again embraced and wept over her long-lost son, whose
return was not quite real yet, and leading her daughter-in-law to her
bedroom, she showed her the elegant white silk which had been made for
her just after her marriage, two years before, and which with careful
forethought she had brought with her, as more suitable now for the
wedding than Helen's mourning weeds.

"I made the most of my time last night after receiving Mark's telegram,
and had it modernized somewhat," she said. "And I brought your pearls,
for you know you will be most as much a bride as Katy, and I have a
pride in seeing my son's wife appropriately dressed."

Far different were Helen's feelings now, as she donned the elegant
dress, from what they had been the first and only time she wore it. Then
the bridegroom was where danger and death lay thickly around his
pathway, but now he was at her side, kissing her cheek where the roses
were burning so brightly, and calling still deeper blushes to her face
by his teasing observations and humorous ridicule of his own personal
appearance. Would she not feel ashamed of him, in his soiled, faded
uniform? And would she not cast longing glances at her handsome
brother-in-law and the stylish Lieutenant Bob? But Helen was proud of
her husband's uniform, as a badge of what he had suffered, and when the
folds of her rich dress swept against it, she did not draw them away,
but nestled closer to him, leaning upon his shoulder, and when no one
was near, winding her soft arms about his neck, whispering: "My darling
Mark, I cannot make it real yet."

Softly the night shadows fell around the farmhouse, and in the rooms
below a rather mixed group was assembled--all the _élite_ of the town,
with many of Aunt Betsy's neighbors, and the doctor's patients, who had
come to see their loved physician married, rejoicing in his happiness,
and glad that the mistress of Linwood was not to be a stranger, but the
young girl who had grown up in their midst, and who, by suffering and
sorrow, had been molded into a noble woman, worthy of Dr. Grant. She was
ready now for her second bridal, and she looked like some pure waxen
figure in her dress of white, with no vestige of color in her face, and
her great blue eyes shining with a brilliancy which made them almost
black. Occasionally, as her thoughts leaped backward over a period of
almost six years, a tear trembled on her long eyelashes, but Morris, as
often as he saw it, kissed it away, asking if she were sorry.

"Oh, no, not sorry that I am to be your wife," she answered; "but it is
not possible that I should forget entirely the roughness of the road
which has led me to you."

"They are waiting for you," was said several times ere the parties
waited for were quite ready to go; but everything was done at last, and
slowly down the stairs passed Mark Ray and Helen, Lieutenant Bob and
Bell, with Dr. Grant and Katy, whose face, as she stood again before the
clergyman and spoke her marriage vows, shone with a strange, peaceful
light, which made it seem to those who gazed upon her like the face of
some pure angel.

There was no thought then of that deathbed in Georgetown--no thought of
Greenwood, or the little grave in Silverton, where the crocuses and
hyacinths were blossoming--no thought of anything save the man at her
side, whose voice was so full and earnest, as it made the responses, and
who gently pressed the little hand as he fitted the wedding ring. It was
ov