This last was spoken interrogatively, and Morris replied: “There is nothing wrong or wicked in going without one’s coat. Everything depends upon the circumstances under which it is done. For me to appear at table in my shirt sleeves would be very impolite; but for an old man like Uncle Ephraim, who has done it all his life and who never gave it a thought, would, in my estimation, be a very different thing. Still, Mr. Cameron may see from another standpoint. But I would not distress myself. That love is not worth much which would think the less of you for anything outre which Uncle Ephraim may do. If Mr. Cameron cannot stand the test of seeing your relatives as they are, he is not worth the long face you are wearing,” and Morris pinched her cheek playfully.
“Yes, I know,” Katy replied; “but if you only could manage Uncle Eph I should be so glad.”
Morris had little hope of breaking a habit of years, but he promised to try if an opportunity should occur, and as Mrs. Hull, the housekeeper, had by this time gathered up the articles required for the morrow, Morris himself took the basket in his own hands and went back with Katy across the fields, which had never seemed so desolate as to-night, when he felt how vain were all the hopes he had been cherishing.
“God bless you, Katy, and may Mr. Cameron’s visit bring you as much happiness as you anticipate,” he said as he set her basket upon the doorstep and turned back without entering the house.
Katy noticed the peculiar tone of his voice, and again there swept over her the same thrill she had felt when Morris first said to her, “And did Katy like this Mr. Cameron?” but so far was she from guessing the truth that she only feared she might have displeased him by what she had said of Uncle Ephraim; and as an unkind word breathed against a dear friend, even to a mutual friend, always leaves a scar, so Katy, though saying nothing ill, still felt that in some way she had wronged her uncle; and the good old man, resting from his hard day’s toil, in his accustomed chair, with not only his coat, but his vest and boots cast aside, little guessed what prompted the caresses which Katy bestowed upon him, sitting in his lap and parting lovingly his snowy hair, as if thus she would make amends for any injury done. Little Katy-did he called her, looking fondly into her bright, pretty face, and thinking how terrible it would be to see that face shadowed with pain and care. Somehow, of late, Uncle Ephraim was always thinking of such a calamity as more than possible for Katy, and when that night she knelt beside him, his voice was full of pleading earnestness as he prayed that God would keep them all in safety, and bring to none of them more grief, more suffering, than was necessary to purify them for His own. “Purified by suffering” came involuntarily into Katy’s mind as she listened, and then remembered the talk down in the meadow, when she sat on the rock