“She most have been rummaging,” she thought, and then, as she remembered what Esther had said about her mistress appearing sick and unhappy when her husband left, she repaired to the parlor and summoning Esther to her presence, asked her again: “When she first observed traces of indisposition in Mrs. Cameron.”
Considerably flurried and anxious to prove true to Katy, Esther replied, at random: “When she came home from that dinner at your house. She was just as pale as death, and her teeth fairly chattered as I took off her things.”
“Dinner? What dinner?” Mrs. Cameron asked, and Esther replied: “Why, the night Mr. Wilford went away or was to go. She changed her mind about meeting him at your house and said she meant to surprise him. But she came home before Mr. Cameron, looking like a ghost and saying she was sick. It’s my opinion something she ate at dinner hurt her.”
“Very likely; yes. You can go now,” Mrs. Cameron said, and Esther departed, never dreaming how much light she had inadvertently thrown upon the mystery.
“She must have been in the library and heard all we said,” Mrs. Cameron thought, as she nervously twisted the fringe of her breakfast shawl. “I remember we talked of Genevra, and I remember, too, that we both heard a strange sound from some quarter, but thought it came from the kitchen. That was Katy. She was there all the time and let herself quietly out of the house. I wonder does Wilford know,” and then there came over her an intense desire for Wilford to come home, a desire which was not lessened when she returned to Katy’s room and heard her talking of Genevra and the grave at St. Mary’s “where nobody was buried.”
In a tremor of distress, lest she should betray something which Morris must not know, Mrs. Cameron tried to hush her, talking as if it was the baby she meant, the Genevra who died at Silverton; but Katy answered promptly: “I’m not to be hoodwinked any longer. It’s Genevra Lambert I mean, Wilford’s other wife; the one across the sea, whom you and he browbeat. She was innocent, too—as innocent as I, whom you both deceived.”
Here was a phase of affairs for which Mrs. Cameron was not prepared, and excessively mortified that Morris should hear Katy’s ravings, she tried again to quiet her, consoling herself with the reflection that as Morris was Katy’s cousin, he would not repeat what he heard, and feeling gratified now that Dr. Craig was absent, as she could not be so sure of him. If Katy’s delirium continued, no one must be admitted to the room except those who could be trusted, and as there had been already several rings, she said to Esther that as the fever was probably malignant and contagious, no one must be admitted to the house with the expectation of seeing the patient, while the servants were advised to stay in their own quarters, except as their services might be needed elsewhere. And so it was that by the morrow the news had spread of some infectious disease at No. —— on Madison Square, which was shunned as carefully as if the smallpox itself had been raging there instead of the brain fever, which increased so fast that Morris suggested to Mrs. Cameron that she telegraph for Wilford.