“Going home, when Leavitt is to call at three!” Mark said, in much surprise, and feeling that it would be a relief to unburden himself to some one, the story came out how Wilford had seen Aunt Betsy at the opera, and expected to find her at Madison Square.
“I wish I had answered her letter about that confounded sheep pasture,” he said, “for I would rather give a thousand dollars—yes, ten thousand—than have her with us to-day. I did not marry my wife’s relations,” he continued, excitedly, adding, as Mark looked quickly up, “Of course I don’t mean Helen. She is right; and though she rasps me a little, I’d rather have her than not. Neither do I mean that doctor, for he is a gentleman. But this Barlow woman—oh! Mark, I am all of dripping sweat just to think of it.”
He did not say what he intended doing, but with Mark Ray’s ringing laugh in his ears, passed into the street, and hailing a stage was driven toward home, just as a downtown stage deposited on the walk in front of his office “that Barlow woman” and Mattie Tubbs!
AUNT BETSY CONSULTS A LAWYER.
Aunt Betsy did not rest well after her return from the opera. Novelty and excitement always kept her awake, while her mind was not wholly at ease with regard to what she had done. Not that she really felt she had committed a sin, except so far as the example might be bad, but she feared the result, should it ever reach the orthodox church at Silverton.
“There’s no telling what Deacon Bannister would do—send a subpoena after me, for what I know,” she thought, as she laid her tired head upon her pillow and went off into that weary state halfway between sleep and wakefulness, a state in which operas, play actors, Katy in full dress, Helen and Mark Ray, choruses, music by the orchestra, to which she had been guilty of beating her foot, Deacon Bannister and the whole offended brotherhood, with constable and subpoenas, were pretty equally blended together—the music which she liked, and the subpoena which she feared taking the precedence of the others.
But with the daylight her fears subsided, and at the breakfast table she was hardly less enthusiastic over the opera than Mattie herself, averring, however; that “once would do her and she had no wish to go again.”
The sight of Katy looking so frail and delicate, but so beautiful withal, had awakened all the olden intense love she had felt for her darling, and she could not wait much longer without seeing her “in her own home and hearing her blessed voice.”
“Hannah, and Lucy amongst ’em, advised me not to come,” she said to Mrs. Tubbs, “hinting that I might not be wanted up there; but now I’m here I shall go if I don’t stay more than an hour.”
“Of course I should,” Mattie answered, herself anxious to stand beneath Wilford Cameron’s roof and see Mrs. Wilford at home. “She don’t look as proud as Helen, and you are her aunt, her blood kin, so why shouldn’t you go there if you like?”