“And if he had?” Bell continued, never taking her eyes from Helen, who, had she been less agitated, would have denied Bell’s right to question her so closely. Now, however, she answered blindly: “I do not know. I cannot tell. I thought him engaged to Juno.”
“Well, if that is not the rarest case of cross-purposes that I ever knew,” Bell said, wiping her hands upon Aunt Betsy’s apron, and preparing to attack the piled up basket just brought in.
Further conversation was impossible, and, with her mind in a perfect tempest of thought, Helen went away, trying to decide what it was best for her to do. Some one had spread the report that she had refused Mark Ray, telling of the refusal, of course, or how else could it have been known? and this accounted for Mrs. Banker’s long-continued silence. Since Helen’s return to Silverton Mrs. Banker had written two or thee kind, friendly letters, which did her so much good; but these had suddenly ceased, and Helen’s last remained as yet unanswered. She saw the reason now, every nerve quivering with pain as she imagined what Mrs. Banker must think of one who could make a refusal public, or what was tenfold worse, pretend to an offer she never received. “She must despise me, and Mark Ray, too, if he has heard of it,” she said, resolving one moment to ask Bell to explain to Mrs. Banker, and then changing her mind and concluding to let matters take their course, inasmuch as interference from her might be construed by the mother into undue interest in the son. “Perhaps Bell will do it without my asking,” she thought, and this hope did much toward keeping her spirits up on that last day of Katy’s stay at home, for she was going back in the morning. Wilford would not leave her, though she begged to stay. He did not like the sad expression of her face, and he must take her where she would have more excitement, hoping thus to win her from her grief, and perhaps induce her to lay aside her black, which would be so serious a hindrance to his enjoyment. But Katy clung to that as to a strict, religious duty, saying to Helen, as in the twilight they sat together up in their old room, talking of the ensuing winter, which would be so different from the last:
“If anything besides the feeling that she is so much happier, could reconcile me to baby’s loss, it is the knowing that my mourning will keep me from the society in which I could not mingle so soon,” and her tears dropped upon the somber robes, which had transformed her so suddenly from the gay, airy creature of fashion into the sober, quiet woman who seemed older, soberer than even Helen herself.
They did not see Marian Hazelton again, and Katy wondered at it, deciding that in some things Marian was very peculiar, while Wilford and Bell were slightly disappointed, as both had a desire to meet and converse with one who had been so like a second mother to the little dead Genevra. Wilford spoke of his child now as Genevra, but to Katy it was baby still; and, with choking sobs and passionate tears, she bade good-by to the little mound underneath which it was lying, and then went back to her city home.