“Is Katy sick?” was his first question, which Morris answered in the affirmative, holding him back as he was starting for her room, and saying to him: “Let me send your mother to you first.” What passed between Wilford and his mother was never known exactly, but at the close of the interview Mrs. Cameron was very pale, while Wilford’s face looked dark and anxious, as he said: “You think he understands it, then?”
“Yes, in part. Of course he cannot make a very connected story out of her ravings; but that he believes you had a wife before Katy, I am sure, just as I am that the world will be none the wiser for his knowledge. I knew Dr. Grant before you did, and there are few men living whom I respect as much, and no one whom I would trust as soon.”
Mrs. Cameron had paid a high compliment to Morris Grant, and Wilford bowed in assent, asking next how she managed Dr. Craig.
“That was easy, inasmuch as he believed it an insane freak of Katy’s to have no other physician than her cousin. It was quite natural, he said, adding that she was as safe with Dr. Grant as any one. So that is settled, and I was glad, for I could not have a stranger know of that affair. If I thought it would save her life to retain him, I should feel differently, of course.”
“Yes, certainly,” Wilford rejoined, while at his heart there was the germ of a feeling which, if in the slightest degree encouraged, would almost have given Katy’s life to save his darling self-love and honor in the eyes of the world.
Few men are as thoroughly selfish as Wilford Cameron, and though he was very much concerned for Katy, he thought more of preserving a secret which, if known at this late day, would subject him to much censure and reproach, than he did of her. So when his mother told him next that Helen had been sent for, his morbid fears took alarm.
“Why was it necessary to bring another here?” he asked, so indignantly that tears sprang to his mother’s eyes as she pleaded her own weariness and inability to remain always in the sickroom, and charged him with ingratitude for all she had done in his behalf.
Wilford could not afford to quarrel with his mother, and he quieted her as soon as possible, admitting that if she must have an assistant he would rather it were Helen than Bell or Juno, or even Esther, who, in spite of the alarm about malignant fever, would willingly have administered to her young mistress, had she been allowed to do so.
“You will go up now,” Mrs. Cameron said to her son, when peace was fully restored, and a moment after Wilford stood in the dimly-lighted room, where Katy was talking of going to the hospitals, and of Marian Hazelton, and was only kept upon her pillow by the strong arm of Morris, who stood over her when Wilford entered, telling her to “wait until to-morrow—it would be better then, and she had not seen her husband yet.”
“I have no husband,” she replied, her lip curling with scorn, and her eyes just then falling upon Wilford, who stood appalled at the fearful change which had passed over her since he left her three days before.