“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.