“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.