“I know what is in your mind,” he said. “You would like to have all the blame rest on Katy; but, madam, hear me—just so sure as through your means one breath of suspicion falls on her. I’ll bla at out the whole story of Genevra. Then see who is censured. On the other hand, if you hold your tongue, and make Juno hold hers, and stick to Katy through thick and thin, acting as if you would like to swallow her whole, I’ll say nothing of this Genevra. Is it a bargain?”
“Yes,” came faintly from the sofa cushions, where Mrs. Cameron had buried her face, sobbing in a confused, frightened way, and after a moment finding voice to say: “What will you do with Phillips and Esther? He must have questioned them.”
“The deuce he did! I’ll see to that I’ll throttle them if they venture to speak!” and summoning both the females to his presence, Mr. Cameron demanded if either had reported what Wilford had said to them.
Except to each other they had not, though Phillips confessed to a great desire to do so when a cousin was in the previous night.
“Hang the cousin, and you, too, if you do!” Mr. Cameron replied, and giving them some very strong advice, couched in very strong language, he dismissed the servants to the kitchen, satisfied that so far Katy was safe. “But who is the villain who first informed? If I had him by the neck!” the enraged man continued, just as there came a second ring—a timid, hesitating ring, as if the new arrival were half afraid to present himself and his errand.
“Speak of angels and you hear the rustle of their wings,” is a proverb as true and much pleasanter of thought than its opposite, and whether Tom Tubbs were an angel or not, it was he who stood twirling his cap in the hall, asking for Mrs. Cameron.
“She can’t see you, but I’ll take the message. Is it about my son?” Father Cameron said, striding up to the boy, who began to wish himself away.
Ever since inquiries had been made at the office for Wilford’s whereabouts, Tom had been uneasy, for he could not forget the savage look in Wilford’s face when he first told him of Katy and Dr. Grant; and when he heard that instead of going to Yonkers Wilford had taken the cars for Philadelphia, he was certain something was wrong, and longed to confess to Katy what he knew of the matter. He had no idea of meddling, but came with the kindest intentions, thinking he should feel better when the load was off his mind. He was then poorly prepared for his fierce reception from Mr. Cameron, who asked so energetically what he had to say.
“It wasn’t much,” Tom began. “I only wanted to tell her maybe I was to blame for repeating what I saw.”
“What did you see?” and Mr. Cameron laid his hand on Tom’s coat collar as if to shake the information out of him.
But there was no need of this, for the frightened youth told quickly what he had come to tell, seeming so sorry and appearing so hurt withal that the elder Cameron grew very gracious, and dismissed him with the conviction that Katy had nothing to fear from Tom Tubbs. Mrs. Cameron was with her now, giving her kisses and words of sympathy, telling her Wilford would come back, and adding that in any event no one could or should blame her.