“Oh, husband, comfort me, for our only boy is dead,” fell from her lips as she tottered to her husband, who opened his arms to receive her, forgetting all the years which had made her the cold, proud woman, who needed no sympathy, and remembering only that bright, green summer when she was first his bride, and came to him for comfort in every little grievance, just as now she came in this great, crushing sorrow.
He did not tell her she was reaping what she had sown, that but for her pride and deception concerning Genevra, Wilford might never have gone to the war, or they been without a son. He did not reproach her at all, but soothed her tenderly, calling her even by her maiden name, and awkwardly smoothing her hair, silvered now with gray, feeling for a moment that Wilford had not died in vain, if by his dying he gave back to his father the wife so lost during the many years since fashion and folly had been the idols she worshiped. But the habits of years could not be lightly broken, and Mrs. Cameron’s mind soon became absorbed in the richness of her mourning, and the strict etiquette of her mourning days. To Katy she was very kind, caressing her with unwonted affection, and scarcely suffering her to leave her sight, much less to stay even for a day at Mrs. Banker’s, where Katy secretly preferred to be. Of Genevra, too, she talked with Katy, and at her instigation wrote a friendly letter, thanking Miss Lambert for all her kindness to her son, expressing her sorrow that she had ever been so unjust to her, and sending her a handsome locket, containing on one side a lock of Wilford’s hair, and on the other his picture, taken from a large-sized photograph. Mrs. Cameron felt herself a very good woman after she had done all this, together with receiving Mrs. Lennox at her own house, and entertaining her for one whole day; but at heart there was no real change, and as time passed on she gradually fell back into her old ways of thinking, and went no more for comfort to her husband as she had on that first night after the burial.
With Mr. Cameron the blow struck deeper, and his Wall Street friends talked together of the old man he had grown since Wilford died, while Katy often found him bending over his long-neglected Bible, as he sat alone in his room at night. And when at last she ventured to speak to him upon the all-important subject, like a little child, he put his hand in hers, and bade her teach him the narrow way which she had found, and wherein Wilford, too, had walked at the very last, they hoped.
For many weeks Katy lingered in New York, and the June roses were blooming when she went back to Silverton, a widow and the rightful owner of all Wilford’s ample fortune. They had found among his papers a will, drawn up and executed not long before his illness, and in which Katy was made his heiress, without condition or stipulation. All was hers to do with as she pleased, and the bitterest tears she ever shed were those which fell like rain when she heard how generous Wilford had been. Then, as she thought of Marian, and the life of poverty before her, she crept to Father Cameron’s side, and said to him, pleadingly: