“I have heard the whole from husband; it was a misunderstanding, that is all. Wilford was wrong to deceive you about Genevra. I was wrong to let him; but we will have no more concealments. You think she is living still—that she is Marian Hazelton?” and Mrs. Cameron smoothed Katy’s hair as she talked, trying to be motherly and kind, while her heart beat more painfully at thoughts of a Genevra living than it ever had on thoughts of a Genevra dead.
She did not doubt the story, although it seemed so strange, and it made her faint as she wondered if the world would ever know and what it would say if it did. That her husband would tell if she failed in a single point she was sure, but she should not fail; she would swear Katy was innocent of everything, if necessary, while Juno and Bell should swear too. Of course they must know and she should tell them that very night, she said to herself, and hence it was that in the gossip which followed Wilford’s disappearance not a word was breathed against Katy, whose cause the family espoused so warmly. Bell and the father because they really loved and pitied her, and Mrs. Cameron and Juno because it saved them from the disgrace which would have fallen on Wilford had the fashionable world known then of Genevra.
The sudden disappearance of a man like Wilford Cameron could not fail even in New York to cause some excitement, especially in his own immediate circle of acquaintances, and for several days the matter was discussed in all its phases, and every possible opinion and conjecture offered as to the cause of his strange conduct. Insanity! how many sins it is made to cover, and how often is it pleaded for an excuse when no other can be found. This is especially true in the higher walks of life, and so in Wilford’s case it was put forward, cautiously at first by Mrs. Cameron herself, who wondered at the avidity with which the suggestion was seized and handed from one to another, some remembering little things which tended to confirm the belief, others slyly shrugging their shoulders as they responded: “Very probable,” but all tacitly allowing the understanding to prevail that insanity had made Wilford Cameron a voluntary wanderer from home. They could not believe in domestic troubles when they saw how his family clung to and defended Katy from the least approach of censure, Juno taking up her abode with her “afflicted sister” until such time as Wilford could be heard from or more definite arrangements be made; Mrs. Cameron driving around each day to see her; Bell always speaking of her with genuine affection, while the father clung to her like a hero, the quartet forming a barrier across which the shafts of scandal could not reach.