“I know now it was best for it to go, but it was hard at first,” Katy said, putting the letter away, and sighing wearily as she missed the clasp of the little arms and touch of the baby lips.
Several times Helen was tempted to tell her of Aunt Betsy’s visit, but decided finally not to do so as it might distress her to know that strangers rendered the hospitalities it was her duty to give, and so Katy never guessed the truth, nor knew what it was which for many days made Wilford so nervous and uneasy, starting quickly at every sudden ring, going often to the window, and looking out into the street as if expecting some one who never came, while he grew strangely anxious for news from Silverton, asking when Katy had heard from home, and why she did not write. One there was, however, who knew and who enjoyed it vastly, watching Wilford closely, and guessing just how his anxiety grew as day after day went by; and she neither came nor was heard from in any way, for Helen did not show the letter apprising her of Aunt Betsy’s safe arrival home, and so all in Wilford’s mind was left a vague conjecture.
He had seen her, she had been in New York, as was proven by Bob Reynolds, but where was she now, and who were those people with her? Had they entrapped her into some snare, and possibly murdered her? It might be. Such things were not of rare occurrence, and Wilford actually grew poor with the uncertainty which hung over the fate of one whom in his present state of mind he would have warmly welcomed to his fireside, had there been a dozen dinner parties in progress. At last, as he sat one day in his office, with the same worried look on his face, Mark, who had also been watching him, said:
“By the way, Will, how did that sheep pasture come out, or didn’t the client appear?”
“Mark,” and Wilford’s voice was husky with emotion; “you’ve stumbled upon the very thing which is tormenting my life out of me. Aunt Betsy has never turned up or been heard from since that night. For aught I know she was murdered, or spirited away, and I am half distracted. I’d give a thousand dollars to know what has become of her.”
“Put down half that pile and I’ll tell you,” was Mark’s nonchalant reply, while Wilford, seizing his shoulder and compelling him to look up, exclaimed:
“You know, then? Tell me—you do know? Where is she?”
“Safe in Silverton, I presume,” was the reply, and then Mark told his story, to which Wilford listened, half incredulous, half indignant, and a good deal relieved.
“You are a splendid fellow, Mark, though I must say you meddled, but I know you did not do it unselfishly. Yes, on the whole, I thank you and Helen, too, for saving me that mortification. I feel like a new man, knowing the old lady is safe at home, where I trust she will remain. And that Tom, who called here yesterday, asking to be our clerk, is the youth I saw at the opera. I thought his face was familiar. Let him come of course. In my gratitude I feel like patronizing the entire Tubbs family.”