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?”