“Morris is coming home,” she said, as Aunt Betsy asked: “What news?” “He will be here on Friday, and he wishes us to see that all things are in order at Linwood for his reception. His eyes are badly diseased, but he is not blind, and he hopes that coming back to us will cure him,” she added, glancing aside at Katy, who sat upon a step of the piazza, her hands folded together upon her lap and her blue eyes looking far off into the fading sunset, just as Evangeline sits looking down the Mississippi River.
When she heard Morris’ name she turned her head a little, so that the ripple of her golden hair was more distinctly visible beneath the silken net she wore, and a deep tinge of red dyed her cheeks; but she made no comment or showed by any sign that she heard what they were saying. Katy was very lovely and consistent in her young widowhood, and not a whisper of gossip had the Silvertonians coupled with her name since she came to them, leaving her husband in Greenwood. There had been no parading of her grief before the public or assumption of greater sorrow than many others had known; but the soberness of her demeanor, and the calm, subdued expression of her face, attested to what she had suffered. Sixteen months had passed since Wilford died, and she still wore her deep mourning weeds, except the widow’s cap, which, at her mother’s and Aunt Betsy’s earnest solicitations, she had laid aside, substituting in its place a simple net, which confined her waving hair and kept it from breaking out in flowing curls, as it was disposed to do. Against this fashion Aunt Betsy also inveighed.
“Couldn’t a body curl their hair when nater intended it to curl, and mourn a-plenty, too?” For her part, she believed it people’s duty to look as well as they could, mournin’ or not mournin’, and Katy couldn’t look much wus’ than she did, with her hair shoved back under that net, unless it was when she wore that heathenish cap, which made her look so like a grandmother.
This was Aunt Betsy’s opinion, but to others there was something singularly sweet and beautiful in the childish face, from which the golden hair was brushed back so plainly, waving softly about the forehead, and occasionally escaping from its confinement in a graceful curl, which Katy suffered to remain for Aunt Betsy’s sake. Katy had never been prettier than she was now, in her mature womanhood, and to the poor and sorrowful, whose homes she cheered so often, she was an angel of goodness.
Truly she had been purified by suffering; the dross had been burned out, and only the gold remained, shedding its brightness on all with which it came in contact.
They would miss her at the farmhouse now far more than they did when she first went away, for she made the sunshine of their home, filling Helen’s place when she was in New York, and when she came back proving to her a stay and comforter. Indeed, but for Katy’s presence, Helen often felt that she could not endure the sickening suspense and doubt which hung so darkly over her husband’s fate.