It was strange how much better Katy felt when this decision was reached, and Esther, below stairs, raised her finger warningly for the cook to listen as her mistress trilled a few notes of a song. It was the first time since her return from Silverton that a sound like that had been heard within the house, and it seemed the precursor of better days. At lunch, too, Katy’s face was very bright, and Esther was surprised when, later in the day, she was sent for to arrange her mistress’ hair, as she had not arranged it since baby died. Greatly annoyed, Wilford had been by the smooth bands combed so plainly back, and at the blackness of the dress; but now there was a change, and graceful curls fell about the face, giving it the girlish expression which Wilford liked. The somberness of the dark dress was relieved by simple folds of white crape at the throat and wrists, while the handsome jet ornaments, the gift of Wilford’s father, added to the style and beauty of the childish figure, which had seldom looked lovelier than when ready and waiting for the carriage. At the door there was a ring, and Esther brought a note to Katy, who, recognizing her husband’s handwriting, tore it quickly open and read as follows:
“DEAR KATY: I have been suddenly called to leave the city on business, which will probably detain me for three days or more, and as I must go on the night train, I wish Esther to have my portmanteau ready with whatever I may need for the journey. As I proposed this morning, I shall dine with mother, but come home immediately after dinner. W. CAMERON.”
Katy was glad now that she had decided to meet him at his mother’s, as the knowing she had pleased him would make the time of his absence more endurable, and after seeing that everything was ready for him she stepped with a comparatively light heart into her carriage, and was driven to No. —— Fifth Avenue.
Mrs. Cameron was out, the servant said, but was expected every minute with Mr. Wilford.
“Never mind,” Katy answered; “I want to surprise them, so please don’t tell them I am here when you let them in,” and going into the library she sat down before the grate, waiting rather impatiently until the door bell rang and she heard both Wilford’s and Mrs. Cameron’s voice in the hall.
Contrary to her expectations, they did not come into the library, but went instead into the parlor, the door of which was partially ajar, so that every word they said could be distinctly heard where Katy sat. It would seem that they were continuing a conversation which had been interrupted by their arriving home, for Mrs. Cameron said, with the tone she always assumed when sympathizing with her son: “I am truly sorry for you. Is she never more cheerful than when I have seen her?”
“Never,” and Katy could feel just how Wilford’s lips shut over his teeth as he said it; “never more cheerful, but worse if anything. Why, positively the house seems so like a funeral that I hate to leave the office and go back to it at night, knowing how mopish and gloomy Katy will be.”