“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.