“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.