“I cannot quite give Wilford up to please you,” she said, when that gigantic sacrifice suggested itself as something which it was possible Helen might require of her; “but I will do anything else, only please don’t cry, darling Nellie—please don’t cry. It spoils all my pleasure,” and Katy’s soft hands wiped away the tears running so fast over her sister’s face.
After that Helen did not cry again in Katy’s presence, but the latter knew she wanted to and it made her rather sad, particularly when she saw reflected in the faces of the other members of the family the grief she had witnessed in Helen. Even Uncle Ephraim was not as cheerful as usual, and once when Katy came upon him in the woodshed chamber, where he was shelling corn, she found him resting from his work and looking from the window far off across the hills, with a look which made her guess he was thinking of her, and stealing up beside him she laid her hand upon his wrinkled face, whispering softly: “Poor Uncle Eph, are you sorry, too?”
He knew what she meant, and the aged chin quivered, while a big tear dropped into the tub of corn, as he replied: “Yes, Katy-did—very sorry.”
That was all he said, and Katy, after smoothing his cheek a moment kissed his silvery hair and then stole away, wondering if every girl’s family felt so badly before she was married, and wondering next if the love to which she was going was equal to the love of home, which, as the days went by, grew stronger and stronger, enfolding her in a mighty embrace, which could only be severed by bitter tears and fierce heart-pangs, such as death itself sometimes brings. In that household there was, after Katy, no one glad of that marriage except the mother, and she was only glad because of the position it would bring to her daughter. But among them all Morris suffered most, and suffered more because he had to endure in secret, to cover up his sorrow so that no one guessed the pain it was for him to go each day where Katy was, and watch her as she sometimes donned a part of her finery for his benefit, asking him once if he did not almost wish he were in Wilford’s place, so as to have as pretty a bride as she should make. Then Marian Hazelton glanced up in time to see the expression of his face, a look whose meaning she readily recognized, and when Dr. Grant left the farmhouse that day, another than himself knew of his love for Katy, drawing her breath hurriedly as she thought of taking back the words “I never will,” of revoking the decision and telling Katy what Wilford Cameron should have told her long before. But the wild wish fled, and Wilford’s secret was safe, while Marian watched Morris Grant with a pitying interest as he came among them, speaking always in the same kind, gentle tone, and trying so hard to enter into Katy’s joy.
“His burden is greater than mine. God help us both,” Marian said, as she resumed her work.
And so amid joy and gladness, silent tears and breaking hearts the preparations went on until all was done, and only three days remained before the eventful tenth. Marian Hazelton was going home, for she would not stay at the farmhouse until all was over, notwithstanding Katy’s entreaties, joined to those of Helen.