“If he does not come to-day, we shall telegraph for him, as his wife is very sick.”
Then Tom remembered how white and haggard Katy’s face had looked, and many times that day his mind recurred to Katy Cameron, whom in his boyish way he had admired as something supernaturally beautiful, and who, in her own room at home, lay burning with fever, and talking of Silverton, of Linwood, of baby, of Genevra, and of Wilford.
Morris had seen her safely to her own door, and then thinking she would do best alone for a time, he left her on the steps, after having rung the bell and seen that the ring was answered.
It was Esther who met her, expressing much concern at her appearance, and asking why she did not stay at Father Cameron’s instead of coming home this cold raw day.
Hardly knowing what she did, Katy motioned Esther to her after reaching her room, and whispered:
“I have not been to Father Cameron’s. I had business somewhere else, but you must not tell. I am in trouble, Esther, or rather, I have been. I guess it’s over now. You are a good girl, and I can trust you. There’s a letter in that drawer, please bring it to me.”
Either complied, and Katy held in her hand the letter left for Wilford. It had not been opened. It must never be opened now, and holding it until a fire was kindled in the grate, she tossed it into the flames, watching it as it crispened and blackened upon the glowing coals.
The quick-witted Esther saw that something was wrong, and traced it readily to Wilford, whose exacting nature she thoroughly understood. She had not been blind during the two years and a half she had been Katy’s maid, and no impatient word of Wilford’s, or frown upon his face, had escaped her when occurring in her presence, while Katy’s uniform sweetness and entire submission to his will had been noted as well, so that in Esther’s opinion Wilford was a domestic tyrant, and Katy was an angel. There was no danger then of Esther’s repeating anything forbidden. She had, of course, her own private speculation on the subject, and when she learned that the tall, handsome man who came within an hour after Katy’s arrival was Dr. Grant, about whom she had heard both her young mistress and Mrs. Cameron talk so much, her woman’s wits came to her aid again, and to herself she said:
“It’s to Silverton Mrs. Cameron went, though how she could get there and back so soon is a mystery to me, or why she went at all.”
Then as she remembered all the circumstances which followed the dinner for which Katy had dressed with so much care, and the burning of the letter, a wild conjecture passed through her mind as to the nature of the trouble which had taken Katy to Silverton in her husband’s absence, leaving a letter for him, and then burning it up when she came back, accompanied by Dr. Grant. For that he did come with her Esther was sure, as she saw him on the steps when she answered Katy’s ring, and knew the man who now sat in the parlor waiting for her to take his name to Katy was the same.