“They might find him, and they might not,” Mark Ray said, when the message came down to the office. “They could try, at all events,” and in a few moments the telegraphic wires were carrying the news of Katy’s illness, both to the West, where Wilford had gone, and to the East, where Helen read with a blanched cheek that Katy perhaps was dying, and she was needed again.
This was Mrs. Cameron’s suggestion, wrung out by the knowing that some woman besides herself was needed in the sickroom, and by the feeling that Helen could be trusted with the story of the first marriage, which Katy talked of constantly, telling it so accurately that only a fool would fail of being convinced that there was much of truth in those delirious ravings.
THE FEVER AND ITS RESULTS.
On every business paper Wilford wrote or signed, and in every object he met in his journey, one face had been prominent, and that the face of Katy as it looked in the gray dawn when it lifted itself up to kiss him, while the white lips tried to speak his pardon. Sometimes Wilford was very sorry and full of remorse, knowing how Katy was suffering for his sin; and then, when he remembered her long refusal to pardon him, notwithstanding that he sued for it so earnestly, his self-importance was touched, and he felt she had no right to be so obstinate. He did not deserve it. He was a very kind, indulgent husband, who had raised her from the humblest position to the very highest, and she ought not to feel so indignant because he had kept from her an act which, after all, did not affect her materially. If Genevra was living, and on this side of the water, he could understand how it might be unpleasant for Katy and for him, too, knowing, as they both did, that she was innocent of the charges alleged against her.
“I should not myself like to run the risk of meeting a divorced wife at any time,” he thought; “but Genevra is dead, and Katy ought to be more reasonable. I did not suppose there was so much spirit in her.”
But reason as he might, Wilford could not forget Katy’s face, so full of reproach. It followed him continually, and was the magnet which turned his steps homeward before his business was quite done, and before the telegram found him. Thus it was with no knowledge of existing circumstances that he reached New York just at the close of the day after Katy’s return, and ordering a carriage, was driven rapidly toward home. All the shutters in the front part of the house were closed and not a ray of light was to be seen in the parlors as he entered the hall, where the gas was burning dimly.
“Katy is at home,” he said, as he went into the library, where a shawl was thrown across a chair, as if some one had lately been there.
It was his mother’s shawl, and Wilford was wondering if she was there, when down the stairs came a man’s rapid step, and the next moment Dr. Grant stepped into the room, starting when he saw Wilford, who felt intuitively that something was wrong.