Wilford’s home was not pleasant to him now, but the fault was with himself. Katy did well her part, meeting him always with a smile, and trying to win him from the dark mood she could not fathom. Times there were when for an entire day he would appear like his former self, caressing her with unwonted tenderness, calling her his “poor crushed dove,” but never asking her forgiveness for all he had made her endure. He was too proud to do that now, and his tenderness always passed away when he remembered Morris Grant and Katy’s remark to Helen: “I am afraid it can never be with us as it was once. I have not the same trust in him.”
“She had no right to complain of me to Helen,” he thought, forgetting the time when he had been guilty of a similar offense in a more aggravated form.
He could not reason upon anything naturally, and matters grew daily worse, while Katy’s face grew whiter and her voice sadder in its tone.
Sometimes Wilford would spend the entire evening away from home, tarrying till the clock struck twelve before he came, and Katy would afterward hear that he had been at the house of some friend, or with Sybil Grandon, whose influence over him increased in proportion as her own was lessened.
When the Lenten days came on, oh, how Katy longed to be in Silverton, to kneel again in its quiet church, and offer up her penitential prayers with the loved ones at home. At last she ventured to ask Wilford if she might go, her spirits rising when he did not refuse her request at once, but asked:
“Whom do you wish to see the most?”
His black eyes seemed reading her through, and something in their expression brought to her face the blush which he construed according to his jealousy, and when she answered:
“I wish to see them all,” he retorted:
“Say, rather, you wish to see that doctor, who has loved you so long, and who but for me would have asked you to be his wife!”
“What doctor, Wilford? Whom do you mean?” and Wilford replied:
“Dr. Grant, of course. Did you never suspect it?”
“Never,” and Katy’s face grew very white, as she asked how Wilford knew what he had asserted.
“I had it from his own lips; he sitting on one side of you and I upon the other. I so far forgot myself as to charge him with loving you, and he did not deny it, but confessed as pretty a piece of romance as I ever read, except that, according to his story, it was a one-sided affair, confined wholly to himself. You never dreamed of it, he said.”
“Never, no, never,” Katy said, panting for her breath, and remembering suddenly many things which confirmed what she had heard.
“Poor Morris, how my thoughtlessness must have wounded him,” she murmured, and then all the pent up passion in Wilford’s heart burst out in an impetuous storm.
He did not charge his wife directly with returning Morris’ love, but he said he was sorry she had not known it earlier; asking her pointedly if it were not so, and pressing her for an answer until the bewildered creature cried out: