“Suppose Morris had asked you first, what then?” was Helen’s next straightforward question, and Katy, who had no secrets from her sister, answered:
“It might have been, perhaps, though I never thought of it then. Oh, Helen, I wish Wilford had never known that Morris loved me.”
She was sobbing now, with her head in Helen’s lap, and Helen, smoothing her bright hair, said, gently:
“You have taken a morbid fancy, Katy. You do not reason correctly. It is right for you to answer Morris yes, and Wilford would say so, too. When I received your letter apprising me of the refusal, I read it to Bell, who said she was so sorry, and then told what Wilford said before he died. You must have forgotten it, darling. He referred to a time when you would cease to be his widow, and he said he was willing, said so to her, and you. Do you remember it, Katy?”
“Yes, I do now, but I had forgotten. I was so stunned then, so bewildered, that it made no impression. I did not think he meant Morris. Helen, do you believe he meant Morris?” and lifting up her face, Katy looked at her sister with a wistfulness which told how anxiously she waited for the answer.
“I know that he meant Morris,” Helen replied. “Bell thinks so, too. So does her father, and both bade me tell you to revoke your decision, to marry Dr. Grant, with whom you will be so happy.”
“I cannot. It is too late. I told him no, and, Helen, I told him a falsehood, too, which I wish I might take back,” she added. “I said I was sorry he ever loved me, when I was not, for the knowing that he had made me very happy. My conscience has smitten me cruelly since for that falsehood told, not intentionally, for I did not consider what I said.”
Here was an idea at which Helen caught at once. She knew just how conscientious Katy was, and by working upon this principle she hoped to persuade her into going over to Linwood and telling Morris that when she said she was sorry he loved her she did not mean it. But this Katy would not do. Helen could tell him, if she liked, but she must not encourage him to hope for a recantation of all she had said to him. She meant the rest. She could not be his wife.
Early the next morning Helen went to Linwood, and the same afternoon Morris returned her call. He had been there two or three times since his return from Washington, but not since Katy’s refusal, and her cheeks were scarlet as he met him in the parlor and tried to be natural. He did not look unhappy. He was not taking his rejection very hard, after all, she thought, and the little lady felt a very little piqued to find him so cheerful, and even gay, when she had scarcely known a moment’s quiet since the day she carried him the custards, and forgot to bring away her umbrella. As it had rained that day, so it did now, a decided, energetic rain, which set in after Morris came, and precluded the possibility of his going home that night.