Mary J. Holmes
Part 3 out of 5
than the young girl at her side, who was thinking of Henry Warner,
wishing he was three inches taller, or herself three inches shorter,
and wondering if his square shoulders would not be somewhat improved
"I never noticed how short and crooked he was," she thought, "until I
saw him standing by the side of Mr. Carrollton, who is such a splendid
figure, so tall and straight; but big, overgrown girls like me always
get short husbands, they say;" and satisfied with this conclusion she
MADAM CONWAY'S DISASTERS.
At a comparatively early hour Madam Conway arose, and going to the
parlor found there Arthur Carrollton, who asked if Margaret were not
yet up. "Say that I wish her to ride with me on horseback," said he.
"The morning air will do her good;" and, quite delighted, Madam Conway
carried the message to her granddaughter.
"Tell him I shan't do it," answered the sleepy Maggie, adjusting
herself for another nap. Then, as she thought how his eyes probably
looked as he said, "I wish her to ride," she felt impelled to obey,
and greatly to her grandmother's surprise she commenced dressing.
Theo's riding dress was borrowed, and though it did not fit her
exactly she looked unusually well when she met Mr. Carrollton in the
lower hall, and once mounted upon the gay steed, and galloping away
into the country, she felt more than repaid for the loss of her
"You ride well," said Mr. Carrollton, when at last they paused upon
the brow of a hill overlooking the town, "but you have some faults
which, with your permission, I will correct," and in the most polite
and gentlemanly manner he proceeded to speak of a few points wherein
her riding might be improved.
Among other things, he said she rode too fast for a lady; and, biting
her lip, Maggie thought, "If I only had Gritty here, I'd lead him such
a race as would either break his bones or his neck, I'm not particular
Still, she followed his directions implicitly, and when, ere they
reached home, he told her that she excelled many who had been for
years to riding schools, she felt repaid for his criticisms, which she
knew were just, even if they were not agreeable. Breakfast being over,
he announced his intention of going down to Boston, telling Maggie he
should probably return that evening and go with her to Hillsdale on
Scarcely had he gone when Henry Warner appeared, asking an interview
with Madam Conway, who haughtily led the way into a private room. Very
candidly and honorably Henry made known to her his wishes, whereupon
a most stormy scene ensued, the lady so far forgetting herself as to
raise her voice several notes above its usual pitch, while Henry,
angered by her insulting words, bade her take the consequences of her
refusal, hinting that girls had been known to marry without their
"An elopement, hey? He threatens me with an elopement, does he?" said
Madam Conway, as the door closed after him. "I am glad he warned me
in time," and then, trembling in every limb lest Maggie should be
spirited away before her very eyes, she determined upon going home
immediately and leaving Arthur Carrollton to follow in the cars.
Accordingly, Maggie was bidden to pack her things at once, the excited
old lady keeping her eye constantly upon her to see that she did
not disappear through the window or some other improbable place. In
silence Maggie obeyed, pouting the while a very little, partly because
she should not again see Henry, partly because she had confidently
expected to ride home with Mr. Carrollton, and partly because she
wished to stay to the firemen's muster, which had long been talked
about, and was to take place on the morrow. They were ready at last,
and then in a very perturbed state of feeling Madam Conway waited
for her carriage, which was not forthcoming, and upon inquiry George
Douglas learned that, having counted upon another day in the city,
Mike was now going through with a series of plunge-baths, by way of
sobering himself ere appearing before his mistress. This, however,
George kept from Madam Conway, not wishing to alarm her; and when
after a time Mike appeared, sitting bolt upright upon the box, with
the lines grasped firmly in his hands, she did not suspect the truth,
nor know that he too was angry for being thus compelled to go home
before he saw the firemen.
Thinking him sober enough to be perfectly safe, George Douglas felt no
fear, and, bowing to his new relatives, went back to comfort Theo, who
as a matter of course cried a little when the carriage drove away.
Worcester was left behind, and they were far out in the country ere
a word was exchanged between Madam Conway and Maggie; for while the
latter was pouting behind her veil, the former was wondering what
possessed Mike to drive into every rut and over every stone.
"You, Mike!" she exclaimed at last, leaning from the window. "What
"Nothing, as I'm a living man," answered Mike, halting so suddenly as
to jerk the lady backwards and mash the crown of her bonnet.
Straightening herself up, and trying in vain to smooth the jam, Madam
Conway continued: "In liquor, I know. I wish I had stayed home." But
Mike loudly denied the charge, declaring he had spent the blessed
night at a meeting of the "Sons," where they passed around nothing
stronger than lemons and water, and if the horses chose to run off the
track it wasn't his fault--he couldn't help it; and with the air of
one deeply injured he again started forward, turning off ere long into
a cross road, which, as they advanced, grew more stony and rough,
while the farmhouses, as a general thing, presented a far less
respectable appearance than those on the Hillsdale route.
"Mike, you villain!" ejaculated the lady, as they ran down into a
ditch, and she sprang to one side to keep the carriage from going
But ere she had time for anything further, one of the axletrees
snapped asunder, and to proceed further in their present condition was
impossible. Alighting from the carriage, and setting her little feet
upon the ground with a vengeance, Madam Conway first scolded Mike
unmercifully for his carelessness, and next chided Maggie for
manifesting no more concern.
"You'd as lief go to destruction as not, I do believe!" said she,
looking carefully after the bandbox containing her purple satin.
"I'd rather go there first," answered Maggie, pointing to a brown
old-fashioned farmhouse about a quarter of a mile away.
At first Madam Conway objected, saying she preferred sitting on the
bank to intruding herself upon strangers; but as it was now noonday,
and the warm September sun poured fiercely down upon her, she finally
concluded to follow Maggie's advice, and gathering up her box and
parasol started for the house, which, with its tansy patch on the
right, and its single poplar tree in front, presented rather an
"Some vulgar creatures live there, I know. Just hear that old tin
horn!" she exclaimed, as a blast, loud and shrill, blown by practiced
lips, told the men in a distant field that dinner was ready.
A nearer approach disclosed to view a slanting-roofed farmhouse such
as is often found in New England, with high, narrow windows, small
panes of glass, and the most indispensable paper curtains of blue
closely shading the windows of what was probably the "best room." In
the apartment opposite, however, they were rolled up, so as to show
the old-fashioned drapery of dimity, bordered with a netted fringe.
Half a dozen broken pitchers and pots held geraniums, verbenas, and
other plants, while the well-kept beds of hollyhocks, sunflowers, and
poppies indicated a taste for flowers in someone. Everything about
the house was faultlessly neat. The doorsill was scrubbed to a chalky
white, while the uncovered floor wore the same polished hue.
All this Madam Conway saw at a glance, but it did not prevent her
from holding high her aristocratic skirts, lest they should be
contaminated, and when, in answer to her knock, an odd-looking,
peculiarly dressed woman appeared, she uttered an exclamation of
disgust, and, turning to Maggie, said, "You talk--I can't!"
But the woman did not stand at all upon ceremony. For the last ten
minutes she had been watching the strangers as they toiled over the
sandy road, and when sure they were coming there had retreated into
her bedroom, donning a flaming red calico, which, guiltless of hoops,
clung to her tenaciously, showing her form to good advantage, and
rousing at once the risibility of Maggie. A black lace cap, ornamented
with ribbons of the same fanciful color as the dress, adorned her
head; and, with a dozen or more pins in her mouth, she now appeared,
hooking her sleeve and smoothing down the black collar upon her neck.
In a few words Maggie explained to her their misfortune, and asked
permission to tarry there until the carriage was repaired.
"Certing, certing," answered the woman, courtesying almost to the
floor. "Walk right in, if you can git in. It's my cheese day, or I
should have been cleared away sooner. Here, Betsy Jane, you have
prinked long enough; come and hist the winders in t'other room, and
wing 'em off, so the ladies can set in there out of this dirty place;"
then turning to Madam Conway, who was industriously freeing her
French kids from the sand they had accumulated during her walk, she
continued, "Have some of my shoes to rest your feet a spell"; and
diving into a recess or closet she brought forth a pair of slippers
large enough to hold both of Madam Conway's feet at once.
With a haughty frown the lady declined the offer, while Maggie looked
on in delight, pleased with an adventure which promised so much fun.
After a moment Betsy Jane appeared, attired in a dress similar to that
of her mother, for whose lank appearance she made ample amends, in the
wonderful expansion of her robes, which, minus gather or fold at the
bottom, set out like a miniature tent, upsetting at once the bandbox,
which Madam Conway had placed upon a chair, and which, with its
contents, rolled promiscuously over the floor!
"Betsy Jane! How can you wear them abominable things!" exclaimed the
distressed woman, stooping to pick up the purple satin which had
A look from the more fashionable daughter, as with a swinging sweep
she passed on into the parlor, silenced the mother on the subject of
hoops, and thinking her guests must necessarily be thirsty after their
walk she brought them a pitcher of water, asking if they'd "chuse it
clear, or with a little ginger and molasses," at the same time calling
to Betsy Jane to know if them windows was "wung" off!
The answer was in the affirmative, whereupon the ladies were invited
to enter, which they did the more willingly as through the open door
they had caught glimpses of what proved to be a very handsome Brussels
carpet, which in that room seemed a little out of place, as did the
sofa, and handsome haircloth rocking-chair. In this last Madam Conway
seated herself, while Maggie reclined upon a lounge, wondering at the
difference in the various articles of furniture, some of which were
quite expensive, while others were of the most common kind.
"Who can they be? She looks like someone I have seen," said Maggie as
Betsy Jane left the room. "I mean to ask their names;" but this her
grandmother would not suffer. "It was too much like familiarity," she
said, "and she did not believe in putting one's self on a level with
Another loud blast from the horn was blown, for the bustling woman of
the house was evidently getting uneasy, and ere long three or four men
appeared, washing themselves from the spout of the pump, and wiping
upon a coarse towel which hung upon a roller near the back door.
"I shan't eat at the same table with those creatures," said Madam
Conway, feeling intuitively that she would be invited to dinner.
"Why, grandma, yes you will, if she asks you," answered Maggie. "Only
think how kind they are to us--perfect strangers!"
What else she might have said was prevented by the entrance of Betsy
Jane, who informed them that dinner was ready, and with a mental
groan, as she thought how she was about to be martyred, Madam Conway
followed her to the dining room, where a plain, substantial farmer's
meal was spread. Standing at the head of the table, with her
good-humored face all in a glow, was the hostess, who, pointing Madam
Conway to? chair, said: "Now set right by, and make yourselves to hum.
Mebby I or to have set the table over, and I guess I should if I had
anything fit to eat. Be you fond of biled victuals?" and taking it for
granted they were, she loaded both Madam Conway's and Maggie's plate
with every variety of vegetables used in the preparation of the dish
known everywhere as "boiled victuals."
By this time the men had ranged themselves in respectful silence upon
the opposite side of the table, each stealing an admiring though
modest glance at Maggie; for the masculine heart, whether it beats
beneath a homespun frock or coat of finest cloth, is alike susceptible
to glowing, youthful beauty like that of Maggie Miller. The head of
the house was absent--"had gone to town with a load of wood," so his
spouse informed the ladies, at the same time pouring out a cup of tea,
which she said she had tried to make strong enough to bear up an egg.
"Betsy Jane," she continued, casting a deprecating glance, first at
the blue sugar bowl and then at her daughter, "what possessed you to
put on this brown sugar, when I told you to get crush? Have some of
the apple sass? It's new--made this morning. Dew have some," she
continued, as Madam Conway shook her head. "Mebby it's better than
it looks. Seem's ef you wan't goin' to eat nothin'. Betsy Jane,
now you're up after the crush, fetch them china sassers for the
cowcumbers. Like enough she'll eat some of them."
But, affecting a headache, Madam Conway declined everything save
the green tea and a Boston cracker, which, at the first mention of
headache, the distressed woman had brought her. Suddenly remembering
Mike, who, having fixed the carriage, was fast asleep on a wheelbarrow
under the woodshed, she exclaimed: "For the land of massy, if I hain't
forgot that young gentleman! Go, William, and call him this minute.
Are you sick at your stomach?" she asked, turning to Madam Conway,
who at the thought of eating with her drunken coachman had uttered
an exclamation of disgust. "Go, Betsy Jane, and fetch the camphire,
But Madam Conway did not need the camphor, and so she said, adding
that Mike was better where he was. Mike thought so too, and refused
to come, whereupon the woman insisted that he must. "There was room
enough," she said, "and no kind of sense in Betsy Jane's taking up the
hull side of the table with them rattans. She could set nearer the
"Certainly," answered Maggie, anxious to see how the "rattans" would
manage to squeeze in between herself and the table-leg, as they would
have to do if they came an inch nearer.
This feat could not be done, and in attempting it Betsy Jane upset
Maggie's tea upon her handsome traveling dress, eliciting from her
mother the exclamation, "Betsy Jane Douglas, you allus was the
This little accident diverted the woman's mind from Mike, while
Madam Conway, starting at the name of Douglas, thought to herself:
"Douglas!--Douglas! I did not suppose 'twas so common a name. But then
it don't hurt George any, having these creatures bear his name."
Dinner being over, Madam Conway and Maggie returned to the parlor,
where, while the former resumed her chair, the latter amused herself
by examining the books and odd-looking daguerreotypes which lay upon
"Oh, grandmother!" she almost screamed, bounding to that lady's
side, "as I live, here's a picture of Theo and George Douglas taken
together," and she held up a handsome casing before the astonished
old lady, who, donning her golden spectacles in a twinkling, saw for
herself that what Maggie said was true.
"They stole it!" she gasped. "We are in a den of thieves! Who knows
what they'll take from my bandbox?" and she was about to leave the
room when Maggie, whose quick mind saw farther ahead, bade her stop.
"I may discover something more," said she, and taking up a handsomely
bound volume of Lamb, she turned to the fly-leaf, and read, "Jenny
Douglas, from her brother George, Worcester, January 8."
It was plain to her now; but any mortification she might otherwise
have experienced was lost in the one absorbing thought, "What will
"Grandmother," said she, showing the book, "don't you remember the
mother of that girl called her Betsy Jane Douglas?"
"Yes, yes!" gasped Madam Conway, raising both hands, while an
expression of deep, intense anxiety was visible upon her face.
"And don't you know, too," continued Maggie, "that George always
seemed inclined to say as little as possible of his parents? Now, in
this country it is not unusual for the sons of just such people as
these to be among the most wealthy and respectable citizens."
"Maggie, Maggie!" hoarsely whispered Madam Conway, grasping Maggie's
arm, "do you mean to insinuate--am I to understand that you believe
that odious woman and hideous girl to be the mother and sister of
"I haven't a doubt of it," answered Maggie. "'Twas the resemblance
between Betsy Jane and George which I observed at first."
Out of her chair to the floor tumbled Madam Conway, fainting entirely
away, while Maggie, stepping to the door, called for help.
"I mistrusted she was awful sick at dinner," said Mrs. Douglas, taking
her hands from the dish-water, and running to the parlor. "I wish
she'd smelt of the camphire, as I wanted her to do. Does she have such
By this time Betsy Jane brought a basin of water, which she dashed in
the face of the unconscious woman, who soon began to revive.
"Pennyr'yal tea'll settle her stomach quicker'n anything else," said
Mrs. Douglas. "I'll clap a little right on the stove;" and, helping
Madam Conway to the sofa, she left the room.
"There may possibly be a mistake, after all," thought Maggie. "I'll
question the girl;" and, turning to Betsy Jane, she said, taking up
the book which had before attracted her attention, "Is this 'Jenny
Douglas' intended for you?"
"Yes, ma'am," answered the girl, coloring slightly. "Brother George
calls me Jenny, because he thinks Betsy so old-fashioned."
An audible groan from the sofa, and Maggie continued, "Where does your
"In Worcester, ma'am. He keeps a store there," answered Betsy, who was
going to say more, when her mother, re-entering the room, took up the
conversation by saying, "Was you tellin' 'em about George Washington?
Waal, he's a boy no mother need to be ashamed on, though my old man
sometimes says he's ashamed of us, we are so different. But, then, he
orto consider the advantages he's had. We only brung him up till he
was ten years old, and then an uncle he was named after took him
and gin him a college schoolin', and then put him into his store in
Worcester. Your head aches wus, don't it? Poor thing! The pennyr'yal
will be steeped directly," she added, in an aside to Madam Conway,
who had groaned aloud as if in pain. Then resuming her story, she
continued, "Better'n six year ago Uncle George, who was a bachelor,
died, leaving the heft of his property, seventy-five thousand dollars
or more, to my son, who is now top of the heap in the store, and worth
one hundred thousand dollars, I presume; some say two hundred thousand
dollars; but that's the way some folks have of agitatin' things."
"Is he married?" asked Maggie, and Mrs. Douglas, mistaking the motive
which prompted the question, answered: "Yes, dear, he is. If he wan't,
I know of no darter-in-law I'd as soon have as you. I don't believe in
finding fault with my son's wife; but there's a proud look in her
face I don't like. This is her picter," and she passed to Maggie the
daguerreotype of Theo.
"I've looked at it before," said Maggie; and the good woman proceeded:
"I hain't seen her yet; but he's going to bring her to Charlton
bime-by. He's a good boy, George is, free as water--gave me this
carpet, the sofy and chair, and has paid Betsy Jane's schoolin' one
winter at Leicester. But Betsy don't take to books much. She's more
like me, her father says. They had a big party for George last night,
but I wan't invited. Shouldn't 'a' gone if I had been; but for all
that a body don't want to be slighted, even if they don't belong to
the quality. If I'm good enough to be George's mother I'm good enough
to go to a party with his wife. But she wan't to blame, and I shan't
lay it up against her. I shall see her to-morrow, pretty likely, for
Sam Babbit's wife and I are goin' down to the firemen's muster. You've
heard on't, I suppose. The different engines are goin' to see which
will shute water the highest over a 180-foot pole. I wouldn't miss
goin' for anything, and of course I shall call on Theodoshy. I
calkerlate to like her, and when they go to housekeepin' I've got a
hull chest full of sheets and piller-biers and towels I'm goin' to
give her, besides three or four bedquilts I pieced myself, two in
herrin'-bone pattern, and one in risin' sun. I'll show 'em to you,"
and leaving the room, she soon returned with three patchwork
quilts, wherein were all possible shades of color, red and yellow
predominating, and in one the "rising sun" forming a huge centerpiece.
"Heavens!" faintly articulated Madam Conway, pressing her hands upon
her head, which was supposed to be aching dreadfully. The thought of
Theo reposing beneath the "risin' sun," or yet the "herrin'-bone," was
intolerable; and looking beseechingly at Maggie, she whispered, "Do
see if Mike is ready."
"If it's the carriage you mean," chimed in Mrs. Douglas, "it's been
waiting quite a spell, but I thought you warn't fit to ride yet, so I
didn't tell you."
Starting to her feet, Madam Conway's bonnet went on in a trice, and
taking her shawl in her hand she walked outdoors, barely expressing
her thanks to Mrs. Douglas, who, greatly distressed at her abrupt
departure, ran for the herb tea, and taking the tin cup in her hand
followed her guest to the carriage, urging her to "take a swaller just
to keep from vomiting."
"She is better without it," said Maggie. "She seldom takes medicine,"
and politely expressing her gratitude to Mrs. Douglas for her kindness
she bade Mike drive on.
"Some crazy critter just out of the asylum, I'll bet," said Mrs.
Douglas, walking back to the house with her pennyroyal tea. "How queer
she acted! but that girl's a lady, every inch of her, and so handsome
too--I wonder who she is?"
"Don't you believe the old woman felt a little above us?" suggested
Betsy Jane, who had more discernment than her mother.
"Like enough she did, though I never thought on't. But she needn't.
I'm as good as she is, and I'll warrant as much thought on, where I'm
known;" and quite satisfied with her own position, Mrs. Douglas went
back to her dish-washing, while Betsy Jane stole away upstairs to
try the experiment of arranging her hair after the fashion in which
Margaret wore hers.
In the meantime Mike, perfectly sobered, had turned his horses' heads
in the direction of Hillsdale, when Madam Conway called out, "To
Worcester, Mike--to Worcester, as fast as you can drive."
"To Worcester! For what?" asked Maggie, and the excited woman
answered: "To stop it! To forbid the banns! I should think you'd ask
"To stop it," repeated Maggie. "I'd like to see you stop it, when
they've been married two months!"
"So they have! so they have!" said Madam Conway, wringing her hands
in her despair, and crying out that a Conway should be so disgraced.
"What shall I do? What shall I do?"
"Make the best of it, of course," answered Maggie. "I don't see
that George is any worse for his parentage. He is evidently greatly
respected in Worcester, where his family are undoubtedly known. He is
educated and refined, if they are not. Theo loves him, and that is
sufficient, unless I add that he has money."
"But not as much as I supposed," moaned Madam Conway. "Theo told me
two hundred thousand dollars; but that woman said one. Oh, what will
become of me! Give me the hartshorn, Maggie. I feel so faint!"
The hartshorn was handed her, but it could not quiet her distress.
Her family pride was sorely wounded, and had Theo been dead she would
hardly have felt worse than she did.
"How will she bear it when it comes to her knowledge, as it
necessarily must? It will kill her, I know!" she exclaimed, after
Maggie had exhausted all her powers of reasoning in vain; then, as
she remembered the woman's avowed intention of visiting her
daughter-in-law on the morrow, she felt that she must turn back; she
must see Theo and break it to her gently, or the first sight of that
odious creature, claiming her for a daughter, might be of incalculable
"Stop, Mike," she was about to say; but ere the words passed her lips
she reflected that to take Maggie back to Worcester was to throw her
again in Henry Warner's way, and this she could not do. There was
but one alternative. She could stop at the Charlton depot, not far
distant, and wait for the downward train, while Mike drove Maggie
home; and this she resolved to do. Mike was accordingly bidden to take
her at once to the depot, which he did, while she explained to Maggie
her reason for returning.
"Theo is much better alone, and George will not thank you for
interfering," said Maggie, not at all pleased with her grandmother's
But the old lady was determined. It was her duty, she said, to stand
by Theo in trouble; and if a visit from that horrid creature wasn't
trouble, she could not well define it.
"When will you come home?" asked Maggie.
"Not before to-morrow night. Now I have undertaken the matter, I
intend to see it through," said Madam Conway, referring to the
expected visit of Mrs. Douglas, senior.
But Mike did not thus understand it, and thinking her only object in
turning back was to "see the doin's," as he designated the firemen's
muster, he muttered long and loud about being thus sent home while his
mistress went to see the fun.
In the meantime, on a hard settee, at the rather uncomfortable depot,
Madam Conway awaited the arrival of the train, which came at last,
and in a short time she found herself again in Worcester. Once in
a carriage, and on her way to the "Bay State," she began to feel a
little nervous, half wishing she had followed Maggie's advice, and
left Theo alone. But it could not now be helped, and while trying to
think what she should say to her astonished granddaughter she was set
down at the door of the hotel, slightly bewildered and a good deal
perplexed, a feeling which was by no means diminished when she learned
that Mr. and Mrs. Douglas were both out of town.
"Where have they gone, and when will they return?" she gasped, untying
her bonnet strings for easier respiration.
To these queries the clerk, replied that he believed Mr. Douglas had
gone to Boston on business, that he might be home that night; at all
events, he would probably return in the morning; she could find Mr.
Warner, who would tell her all about it. "Shall I send for him?" he
continued, as he saw the scowl upon her face.
"Certainly not," she answered; and taking the key, which had been left
in his charge, she repaired to Theo's rooms, and sinking into a large
easy-chair fanned herself furiously, wondering if they would return
that night, and what they would say when they found her there. "But I
don't care," she continued, speaking aloud and shaking her head very
decidedly at the excited woman whose image was reflected by the mirror
opposite, and who shook her head as decidedly in return. "George
Douglas has deceived us shamefully, and I'll tell him so, too. I wish
he'd come this minute!"
But George Douglas knew well what he was doing. Very gradually was he
imparting to Theo a knowledge of his parents, and Theo, who really
loved her husband, was learning to prize him for himself, and not for
his family. Feeling certain that the firemen's muster would bring his
mother to town, and knowing that Theo was not yet prepared to see her,
he was greatly relieved at Madam Conway's sudden departure, and had
himself purposely left home, with the intention of staying away until
Friday night. This, however, Madam Conway did not know, and very
impatiently she awaited his coming, until the lateness of the hour
precluded the possibility of his arrival, and she retired to bed,
but not to sleep, for the city was full of firemen, and one company,
failing of finding lodgings elsewhere, had taken refuge in an
empty carriage-shop near by. The hard, bare floor was not the most
comfortable bed imaginable, and preferring the bright moonlight and
open air they made the night hideous with their noisy shouts, which
the watchmen tried in vain to hush. To sleep in that neighborhood was
impossible, and all night long Madam Conway vibrated between her bed
and the window, from which latter point she frowned wrathfully down
upon the red coats below, who, scoffing alike at law and order as
dispensed by the police, kept up their noisy revel, shouting lustily
for "Chelsea, No. 4" and "Washington, No. 2," until the dawn of day.
"I wish to mercy I'd gone home!" sighed Madam Conway, as weak and
faint she crept down to the breakfast table, doing but little justice
to anything, and returning to her room pale, haggard, and weary.
Ere long, however, she became interested in watching the crowds of
people who at an early hour filled the streets; and when at last the
different fire companies of the State paraded the town, in a seemingly
never-ending procession, she forgot in a measure her trouble, and
drawing her chair to the window sat down to enjoy the brilliant scene,
involuntarily nodding her head to the stirring music, as company after
company passed. Up and down the street, far as the eye could reach,
the sidewalks were crowded with men, women, and children, all eager
to see the sight. There were people from the city and people from the
country, the latter of whom, having anticipated the day for weeks and
months, were now unquestionably enjoying it to the last degree.
Conspicuous among these was a middle-aged woman, who elicited remarks
from all who beheld her, both from the peculiarity of her dress and
the huge blue cotton umbrella she persisted in hoisting, to the great
annoyance of those in whose faces it was thrust, and who forgot in a
measure their vexation when they read the novel device it bore. Like
many other people, who can sympathize with the good woman, she
was always losing her umbrella, and at last, in self-defense, had
embroidered upon the blue in letters of white:
"Steal me not, for fear of shame.
For here you see my owner's name:
As the lettering was small and not very distinct, it required a
close observation to decipher it; but the plan was a successful one,
nevertheless, and for four long years the blue umbrella had done good
service to its mistress, shielding her alike from sunshine and from
storm, and now in the crowded city it performed a double part,
preventing those standing near from seeing, while at the same time it
kept the dust from settling on the thick green veil and leghorn bonnet
of its owner. At Betsy Jane's suggestion she wore a hoop to-day on
Theo's account, and that she was painfully conscious of the fact was
proved by the many anxious glances she cast at her chocolate-colored
muslin, through the thin folds of which it was plainly visible.
"I wish I had left the pesky thing to hum," she thought, feeling
greatly relieved when at last, as the crowd became greater, it was
broken in several pieces and ceased to do its duty.
From her seat near the window Madam Conway caught sight of the
umbrella as it swayed up and down amid the multitude, but she had no
suspicion that she who bore it thus aloft had even a better right
than herself to sit where she was sitting. In her excitement she had
forgotten Mrs. Douglas' intended visit, to prepare Theo for which she
had returned to Worcester, but it came to her at length, when, as
the last fire company passed, the blue umbrella was closed, and the
leghorn bonnet turned in the direction of the hotel. There was no
mistaking the broad, good-humored face which looked so eagerly up at
"George's window," and involuntarily Madam Conway glanced under the
bed with the view of fleeing thither for refuge!
"What shall I do?" she cried, as she heard the umbrella on the stairs.
"I'll lock her out," she continued; and in an instant the key was in
her pocket, while, trembling in every limb, she awaited the result.
Nearer and nearer the footsteps came; there was a knock upon the door,
succeeded by a louder one, and then, as both these failed to elicit a
response, the handle of the umbrella was vigorously applied. But all
in vain, and Madam Conway heard the discomfited outsider say, "They
told me Theodoshy's grandmarm was here, but I guess she's in the
street. I'll come agin bime-by," and Mrs. Douglas, senior, walked
disconsolately down the stairs, while Madam Conway thought it doubtful
whether she gained access to the room that day, come as often as she
Not long after, the gong sounded for dinner, and unlocking the door
Madam Conway was about descending to the dining room, when the thought
burst upon her: "What if she should be at the table! It's just like
The very idea was overwhelming, taking from her at once all desire for
dinner; and returning to her room she tried, by looking over the books
and examining the carpet, to forget how hungry and faint she was.
Whether she would have succeeded is doubtful, had not an hour or two
later brought another knock from the umbrella, and driven all thoughts
of eating from her mind. In grim silence she waited until her
tormentor was gone, and then wondering if it was not time for the
train she consulted her watch. But alas! 'twas only four; the cars did
not leave until six; and so another weary hour went by. At the end of
that time, however, thinking the depot preferable to being a prisoner
there, she resolved to go; and leaving the key with the clerk, she
called a carriage and was soon on her way to the cars.
As she approached the depot she observed an immense crowd of people
gathered together, among which the red coats of the firemen were
conspicuous. A fight was evidently in progress, and as the horses
began to grow restive she begged of the driver to let her alight,
saying she could easily walk the remainder of the way. Scarcely,
however, was she on terra-firma when the yelling crowd made a
precipitate rush towards her, and in much alarm she climbed for safety
into an empty buggy, whereupon the horse, equally alarmed, began to
rear, and without pausing an instant the terrified lady sprang out on
the side opposite to that by which she had entered, catching her dress
upon the seat, and tearing half the gathers from the waist.
"Heaven help me!" she cried, picking herself up, and beginning to wish
she had never troubled herself with Theo's mother-in-law.
To reach the depot was now her great object, and, as the two
belligerent parties occupied the front, she thought to effect an
entrance at the rear. But the doors were locked, and as she turned the
corner of the building she suddenly found herself in the thickest of
the fight. To advance was impossible, to turn back equally so, and
while meditating some means of escape she lost her footing and fell
across a wheelbarrow which stood upon the platform, crumpling her
bonnet, and scratching her face upon a nail which protruded from the
vehicle. Nearer dead than alive, she made her way at last into the
depot, and from thence into the cars, where, sinking into a seat, and
drawing her shawl closely around her, the better to conceal the
sad condition of her dress, she indulged in meditations not wholly
complimentary to firemen in general and her late comrades in
For half an hour she waited impatiently, but though the cars were
filling rapidly there were no indications of starting; and it was
almost seven ere the long and heavily loaded train moved slowly from
the depot. About fifteen minutes previous to their departure, as Madam
Conway was looking ruefully out upon the multitude, she was horrified
at seeing directly beneath her window the veritable woman from whom,
through the entire day, she had been hiding. Involuntarily she glanced
at the vacant seat in front of her, which, as she feared, was soon
occupied by Mrs. Douglas and her companion, who, as Madam Conway
divined, was "Sam Babbit's wife."
Trembling nervously lest she should be discovered, she drew her veil
closely over her face, keeping very quiet, and looking intently from
the window into the gathering darkness without. But her fears were
groundless, for Mrs. Douglas had no suspicion that the crumpled bonnet
and sorry figure, sitting so disconsolately in the corner, was the
same which but the day before had honored her with a call. She was in
high spirits, having had, as she informed her neighbor, "a tip-top
time." On one point, however, she was disappointed. She meant as much
as could be to have seen "Theodoshy," but she "wan't to hum." "Her
grandmarm was in town," said she, "but if she was in the room she must
have been asleep, or dreadful deaf, for I pounded with all my might.
I'm sorry, for I'd like to scrape acquaintance with her, bein' we're
An audible groan came from beneath the thick brown veil, whereupon
both ladies turned their heads. But the indignant woman made no sign;
and, in a whisper loud enough for Madam Conway to hear, Mrs. Douglas
said, "Some Irish critter in liquor, I presume. Look at her jammed
This remark drew from Mrs. Babbit a very close inspection of the
veiled figure, who, smothering her wrath, felt greatly relieved when
the train started and prevented her from hearing anything more. At the
next station, however, Mrs. Douglas showed her companion a crochet
collar, which she had purchased for two shillings, and which, she
said, was almost exactly like the one worn by the woman who stopped at
her house the day before.
Leaning forward, Madam Conway glanced contemptuously at the coarse
knit thing, which bore about the same resemblance to her own handsome
collar as cambric does to satin.
"Vulgar, ignorant creatures!" she muttered, while Mrs. Babbit, after
duly praising the collar, proceeded to make some inquiries concerning
the strange lady who had shared Mrs. Douglas' hospitality.
"I've no idee who she was," said Mrs. Douglas; "but I think it's purty
likely she was some crazy critter they was takin' to the hospital."
Another groan from beneath the brown veil, and turning around the
kind-hearted Mrs. Douglas asked if she was sick, adding in an aside,
as there came no answer, "Been fightin', I'll warrant!"
Fortunately for Madam Conway, the cars moved on, and when they stopped
again, to her great relief, the owner of the blue umbrella, together
with "Sam Babbit's wife," alighted, and amid the crowd assembled on
the platform she recognized Betsy Jane, who had come down to meet her
mother. The remainder of the way seemed tedious enough, for the train
moved but slowly, and it was near ten o'clock ere they reached the
Hillsdale station, where, to her great delight, Madam Conway found
Margaret awaiting her, together with Arthur Carrollton. The moment
she saw the former, who came eagerly forward to meet her, the weary,
worn-out woman burst into tears; but at the sight of Mr. Carrollton
she forced them back, saying, in reply to Maggie's inquiries, that
Theo was not at home, and that she had spent a dreadful day, and been
knocked down in a fight at the depot, in proof of which she pointed
to her torn dress, her crumpled bonnet, and scratched face. Maggie
laughed aloud in spite of herself, and though Mr. Carrollton's eyes
were several times turned reprovingly upon her she continued to
laugh at intervals at the sorry, forlorn appearance presented by her
grandmother, who for several days was confined to her bed from the
combined effects of fasting, fright, firemen's muster, and her late
encounter with Mrs. Douglas, senior!
ARTHUR CARROLLTON AND MAGGIE.
Mr. Carrollton had returned from Boston on Thursday afternoon, and,
finding them all gone from the hotel, had come on to Hillsdale on
the evening train, surprising Maggie as she sat in the parlor alone,
wishing herself in Worcester, or in some place where it was not as
lonely as there. With his presence the loneliness disappeared, and in
making his tea and listening to his agreeable conversation she forgot
everything, until, observing that she looked weary, he said: "Maggie,
I would willingly talk to you all night, were it not for the bad
effect it would have on you to-morrow. You must go to bed now," and he
showed her his watch, which pointed to the hour of midnight.
Exceedingly mortified, Maggie was leaving the room, when, noticing her
evident chagrin, Mr. Carrollton came to her side, and laying his hand
very respectfully on hers, said kindly: "It is my fault, Maggie,
keeping you up so late, and I only send you away now because those
eyes are growing heavy, and I know that you need rest. Good-night to
you, and pleasant dreams."
He went with her to the door, watching her until she disappeared up
the stairs; then, half wishing he had not sent her from him, he too
sought his chamber; but not to sleep, for Maggie, though absent, was
with him still in fancy. For more than a year he had been haunted by a
bright, sunshiny face, whose owner embodied the dashing, independent
spirit and softer qualities which made Maggie Miller so attractive. Of
this face he had often thought, wondering if the real would equal the
ideal, and now that he had met with her, had looked into her truthful
eyes, had gazed upon her sunny face, which mirrored faithfully every
thought and feeling, he was more than satisfied, and to love that
beautiful girl seemed to him an easy matter. She was so childlike, so
artless, so different from anyone whom he had ever known, that he was
interested in her at once. But Arthur Carrollton never did a thing
precipitately. She might have many glaring faults; he must see her
more, must know her better, ere he lavished upon her the love whose
deep fountains had never yet been stirred.
After this manner he reasoned as he walked up and down his chamber,
while Maggie, on her sleepless pillow, was thinking, too, of him,
wondering if she did hate him as much as she intended, and if Henry
would be offended at her sitting up with him until after twelve
It was nearly half-past nine when Maggie awoke next morning, and
making a hasty toilet she descended to the dining room, where she
found Mr. Carrollton awaiting her. He had been up a long time; but
when Anna Jeffrey, blessed with an uncommon appetite, fretted at the
delay of breakfast, and suggested calling Margaret, he objected,
saying she needed rest, and must not be disturbed. So, in something of
a pet, the young lady breakfasted alone with her aunt, Mr. Carrollton
preferring to wait for Maggie.
"I am sorry I kept you waiting," said Maggie, seating herself at the
table and continuing to apologize for her tardiness.
But Mr. Carrollton felt more than repaid by having her thus alone with
him, and many were the admiring glances he cast toward her, as, with
her shining hair, her happy face, her tasteful morning gown of pink,
and her beautiful white hands which handled so gracefully the silver
coffee-urn, she made a living, glowing picture such as any man might
delight to look upon. Breakfast being over, Mr. Carrollton proposed a
ride, and as Anna Jeffrey at that moment entered the parlor he invited
her to accompany them. There was a shadow on Maggie's brow as she left
the room to dress, a shadow which had not wholly disappeared when she
returned; and, observing this, Mr. Carrollton said, "Were I to consult
my own wishes, Maggie, I should leave Miss Jeffrey at home; but she is
a poor girl whose enjoyments are far less than ours, consequently I
invited her for this once, knowing how fond she is of riding."
"How thoughtful you are of other people's happiness!" said Maggie, the
shadow leaving her brow at once.
"I am glad that wrinkle has gone, at all events," returned Mr.
Carrollton laughingly, and laying his hand upon her forehead he
continued: "Were you my sister Helen I should probably kiss you for
having so soon got over your pet; but as you are Maggie Miller, I dare
not," and he looked earnestly at her, to see if he had spoken the
Coloring crimson, as it became the affianced bride of Henry Warner to
do, Maggie turned away, thinking Helen must be a happy girl, and
half wishing she too were Arthur Carrollton's sister. It was a long,
delightful excursion they took, and Maggie, when she saw how Anna
Jeffrey enjoyed it, did not altogether regret her presence. On their
way home she proposed calling upon Hagar, whom she had not seen for
"three whole days."
"And who, pray, is Hagar?" asked Mr. Carrollton; and Maggie replied,
"She is my old nurse--a strange, crazy creature, whom they say I
By this time they were near the cottage, in the door of which old
Hagar was standing, with her white hair falling round her face.
"I see by your looks you don't care to call, but I shall," said
Maggie; and, bounding from her saddle, she ran up to Hagar, pressing
her hand and whispering that it would soon be time to hear from Henry.
"Kissed her, I do believe!" said Anna Jeffrey. "She must have
Mr. Carrollton said nothing, but with a half-comical, half-displeased
expression he watched the interview between that weird old woman and
the fair young girl, little suspecting how nearly they were allied.
"Why didn't you come and speak to her?" said Maggie, as he alighted to
assist her in again mounting Gritty. "She used to see you in England,
when you were a baby, and if you won't be angry I'll tell you what she
said. It was that you were the crossest, ugliest young one she ever
saw! There, there; don't set me down so hard!" and the saucy eyes
looked mischievously at the proud Englishman, who, truth to say, did
place her in the saddle with a little more force than was at all
Not that he was angry. He was only annoyed at what he considered
Maggie's undue familiarity with a person like Hagar, but he wisely
forbore making any comments in Anna Jeffrey's presence, except,
indeed, to laugh heartily at Hagar's complimentary description of
himself when a baby. Arrived at home, and alone again with Maggie, he
found her so very good-natured and agreeable that he could not chide
her for anything, and Hagar was for a time forgotten.
That evening, as the reader knows, they went together to the depot,
where they waited four long hours, but not impatiently; for sitting
there in the moonlight, with the winding Chicopee full in view, and
Margaret Miller at his side, Arthur Carrollton forgot the lapse
of time, especially when Maggie, thinking it no harm, gave a most
ludicrous description of her call upon Mrs. Douglas, senior, and of
her grandmother's distress at finding herself so nearly connected with
what she termed "a low, vulgar family."
Arthur Carrollton was very proud, and had Theo been his sister he
might to some extent have shared in Madam Conway's chagrin; and so he
said to Maggie, at the same time fully agreeing with her that George
Douglas was a refined, agreeable man, and as such entitled to respect.
Still, had Theo known of his parentage, he said, it would probably
have made some difference; but now that it could not be helped it was
wise to make the best of it.
These words were little heeded then by Maggie, but with most painful
distinctness they recurred to her in the after time, when, humbled in
the very dust, she had no hope that the highborn, haughty Carrollton
would stoop to a child of Hagar Warren! But no shadow of the dark
future was over her now, and very eagerly she drank in every word and
look of Arthur Carrollton, who, all unconsciously, was trampling on
another's rights and gradually weakening the fancied love she bore for
The arrival of the train brought their pleasant conversation to a
close, and for a day or two Maggie's time was wholly occupied with
her grandmother, to whom she frankly acknowledged having told Mr.
Carrollton of Mrs. Douglas and her daughter Betsy Jane. The fact that
he knew of her disgrace and did not despise her was of great benefit
to Madam Conway, and after a few days she resumed her usual spirits,
and actually told of the remarks made by Mrs. Douglas concerning
herself and the "fight" she had been in! As time passed on she became
reconciled to the Douglases, having, as she thought, some well-founded
reasons for believing that for Theo's disgrace Maggie would make
amends by marrying Mr. Carrollton, whose attentions each day became
more and more marked, and were not apparently altogether disagreeable
to Maggie. On the contrary, his presence at Hillsdale was productive
of much pleasure to her, as well as a little annoyance.
From the first he seemed to exercise over her an influence she could
not well resist--a power to make her do whatever he willed that she
should do; and though she sometimes rebelled she was pretty sure in
the end to yield the contest, and submit to one who was evidently
the ruling spirit. As yet nothing had been said of the hair ornament
which, out of compliment to him, her grandmother wore every morning
in her collar, but at last one day Madam Conway spoke of it herself,
asking if it were, as she had supposed, his grandmother's hair.
"Why, no," he answered involuntarily; "it is a lock Maggie sent me in
that wonderful daguerreotype!"
"The stupid thing!" thought Maggie, while her eyes fairly danced with
merriment as she anticipated the question she fancied was sure to
follow, but did not.
One glance at her tell-tale face was sufficient for Madam Conway. In
her whole household there was but one head with locks as white as
that, and whatever her thoughts might have been, she said nothing, but
from that day forth Hagar's hair was never again seen ornamenting her
person! That afternoon Mr. Carrollton and Maggie went out to ride, and
in the course of their conversation he referred to the pin, asking
whose hair it was, and seeming much amused when told that it was
"But why did you not tell her when it first came?" he said; and Maggie
answered: "Oh, it was such fun to see her sporting Hagar's hair, when
she is so proud! It didn't hurt her either, for Hagar is as good as
anybody. I don't believe in making such a difference because one
person chances to be richer than another."
"Neither do I," returned Mr. Carrollton. "I would not esteem a person
for wealth alone, but there are points of difference which should
receive consideration. For instance, this old Hagar may be well enough
in her way, but suppose she were nearly connected with you--your
grandmother, if you like--it would certainly make some difference in
your position. You would not be Maggie Miller, and I--"
"Wouldn't ride with me, I dare say," interrupted Maggie; to which he
replied, "I presume not," adding, as he saw slight indications of
pouting, "And therefore I am glad you are Maggie Miller, and not
Mentally pronouncing him a "proud, hateful thing," Maggie rode on a
while in silence. But Mr. Carrollton knew well how to manage her, and
he too was silent until Maggie, who could never refrain from talking
any length of time, forgot herself and began chatting away as gayly as
before. During their excursion they came near to the gorge of Henry
Warner memory, and Maggie, who had never quite forgiven Mr. Carrollton
for criticising her horsemanship, resolved to show him what she could
do. The signal was accordingly given to Gritty, and ere her companion
was aware of her intention she was tearing over the ground at a speed
he could hardly equal. The ravine was just on the border of the wood,
and without pausing for an instant Gritty leaped across it, landing
safely on the other side, where he stopped, while half fearfully, half
exultingly, Maggie looked back to see what Mr. Carrollton would do.
At first he fancied Gritty beyond her control, and when he saw her
directly over the deep chasm he shuddered, involuntarily stretching
out his arms to save her; but the look she gave him as she turned
around convinced him that the risk she had run was done on purpose.
Still he had no intention of following her, for he feared his horse's
ability as well as his own to clear that pass.
"Why don't you jump? Are you afraid?" and Maggie's eyes looked archly
out from beneath her tasteful riding cap.
For half a moment he felt tempted to join her, but his better judgment
came to his aid, and he answered: "Yes, Maggie, I am afraid, having
never tried such an experiment. But I wish to be with you in some
way, and as I cannot come to you I ask you to come to me. You seem
accustomed to the leap!"
He did not praise her. Nay, she fancied there was more of censure
in the tones of his voice; at all events, he had asked her rather
commandingly to return, and she "wouldn't do it." For a moment she
made no reply, and he said again, "Maggie, will you come?" then half
playfully, half reproachfully, she made answer, "A gallant Englishman
indeed! willing I should risk my neck where you dare not venture
yours. No, I shan't try the leap again to-day, I don't feel like it;
but I'll cross the long bridge half a mile from here--good-by;" and
fully expecting him to meet her, she galloped off, riding ere long
quite slowly, "so he'd have a nice long time to wait for her!"
How, then, was she disappointed, when, on reaching the bridge, there
was nowhere a trace of him to be seen, neither could she hear
the sound of his horse's footsteps, though she listened long and
"He is certainly the most provoking man I ever saw!" she exclaimed,
half crying with vexation. "Henry wouldn't have served me so, and I'm
glad I was engaged to him before I saw this hateful Carrollton, for
grandma might possibly have coaxed me into marrying him, and then
wouldn't Mr. Dog and Mrs. Cat have led a stormy life! No, we
wouldn't," she continued; "I should in time get accustomed to minding
him, and then I think he'd be splendid, though no better than Henry. I
wonder if Hagar has a letter for me!" and, chirruping to Gritty, she
soon stood at the door of the cabin.
"Have you two been quarreling?" asked Hagar, noticing Maggie's flushed
cheeks. "Mr. Carrollton passed here twenty minutes or more ago,
looking mighty sober, and here you are with your face as red--What has
"Nothing," answered Maggie, a little testily, "only he's the meanest
man! Wouldn't follow me when I leaped the gorge, and I know he could
if he had tried."
"Showed his good sense," interrupted Hagar, adding that Maggie mustn't
think every man was going to risk his neck for her.
"I don't think so, of course," returned Maggie; "but he might act
better--almost commanded me to come back and join him, as though I was
a little child; but I wouldn't do it. I told him I'd go down to the
long bridge and cross, expecting, of course, he'd meet me there; and
instead of that he has gone off home. How did he know what accident
would befall me?"
"Accident!" repeated Hagar; "accident befall you, who know every crook
and turn of these woods so much better than he does!"
"Well, anyway, he might have waited for me," returned Maggie. "I don't
believe he'd care if I were to get killed. I mean to scare him and
see;" and, springing from Gritty's back, she gave a peculiar whistling
sound, at which the pony bounded away towards home, while she followed
Hagar into the cottage, where a letter from Henry awaited her.
They were to sail for Cuba on the 15th of October, and he now wrote
asking if Maggie would go without her grandmother's consent. But,
though irresolute when he before broached the subject, Maggie was
decided now. She would not run away; and so she said to Hagar, to whom
she confided the whole affair.
"I do not think it would be right to elope," she said. "In three years
more I shall be twenty-one, and free to do as I like; and if grandma
will not let me marry Henry now, he must wait. I can't run away. Rose
would not approve of it, I'm sure, and I almost know Mr. Carrollton
"I can't see how his' approving or not approving can affect you,"
said Hagar; then bending down, so that her wild eyes looked full in
Maggie's eyes, she said, "Are you beginning to like this Englishman?"
"Why, no, I guess I aint," answered Maggie, coloring slightly. "I
dislike him dreadfully, he's so proud. Why, he did the same as to say
that if I were your grandchild he would not ride with me!"
"My grandchild, Maggie Miller!--my grandchild!" shrieked Hagar. "What
put that into his head?"
Thinking her emotion caused by anger at Arthur Carrollton, Maggie
mentally chided herself for having inadvertently said what she did,
while at the same time she tried to soothe old Hagar, who rocked to
and fro, as was her custom when her "crazy spells" were on. Growing a
little more composed, she said at last, "Marry Henry Warner, by all
means, Maggie; he aint as proud as Carrollton--he would not care as
much if he knew it."
"Knew what?" asked Maggie; and, remembering herself in time, Hagar
answered adroitly: "Knew of your promise to let me live with you. You
remember it, don't you?" and she looked wistfully towards Maggie, who,
far more intent upon something else, answered: "Yes, I remember. But
hush! don't I hear horses' feet coming rapidly through the woods?"
and, running to the window, she saw Mr. Carrollton mounted upon
Gritty, and riding furiously towards the house.
"You go out, Hagar, and see if he is looking for me," whispered
Maggie, stepping back, so he could not see.
"Henry Warner must snare the bird quick, or he will lose it," muttered
Hagar, as she walked to the door, where, evidently much excited, Mr.
Carrollton asked if she knew aught of Miss Miller, and why Gritty had
come home alone. "It is such an unusual occurrence," said he, "that we
felt alarmed, and I have come in quest of her."
From her post near the window Maggie could plainly see his face, which
was very pale, and expressive of much concern, while his voice, she
fancied, trembled as he spoke her name.
"He does care," she thought; woman's pride was satisfied, and ere
Hagar could reply she ran out, saying laughingly: "And so you thought
maybe I was killed, but I'm not. I concluded to walk home and let
Gritty go on in advance. I did not mean to frighten grandma."
"She was not as much alarmed as myself," said Mr. Carrollton, the
troubled expression of his countenance changing at once. "You do not
know how anxious I was when I saw Gritty come riderless to the door,
nor yet how relieved I am in finding you thus unharmed."
Maggie knew she did not deserve this, and blushing like a guilty
child she offered no resistance when he lifted her into the saddle
gently--tenderly--as if she had indeed escaped from some great danger.
"It is time you were home," said he, and throwing the bridle across
his arm he rested his hand upon the saddle and walked slowly by her
All his fancied coldness was forgotten; neither was the leap nor yet
the bridge once mentioned, for he was only too happy in having her
back alive, while she was doubting the propriety of an experiment
which, in the turn matters had taken, seemed to involve deception.
Observing at last that he occasionally pressed his hand upon his side,
she asked the cause, and was told that he had formerly been subject to
a pain in his side, which excitement or fright greatly augmented. "I
hoped I was free from it," he said, "but the sight of Gritty dashing
up to the door without you brought on a slight attack; for I knew if
you were harmed the fault was mine for having rather unceremoniously
This was more than Maggie could endure in silence. The frank
ingenuousness of her nature prevailed, and turning towards him her
dark, beautiful eyes, in which tears were shining, she said: "Forgive
me, Mr. Carrollton. I sent Gritty home on purpose to see if you would
be annoyed, for I felt vexed because you would not humor my whim and
meet me at the bridge. I am sorry I caused you any uneasiness," she
continued, as she saw a shadow flit over his face. "Will you forgive
Arthur Carrollton could not resist the pleading of those lustrous
eyes, nor yet refuse to take the ungloved hand she offered him;
and if, in token of reconciliation, he did press it a little more
fervently than Henry Warner would have thought at all necessary, he
only did what, under the circumstances, it was very natural he
should do. From the first Maggie Miller had been a puzzle to Arthur
Carrollton; but he was fast learning to read her--was beginning to
understand how perfectly artless she was--and this little incident
increased, rather than diminished, his admiration.
"I will forgive you, Maggie," he said, "on one condition. You must
promise never again to experiment with my feelings in a similar
The promise was readily given, and then they proceeded on as leisurely
as if at home there was no anxious grandmother vibrating between her
high-backed chair and the piazza, nor yet an Anna Jeffrey watching
them enviously as they came slowly up the road.
That night there came to Mr. Carrollton a letter from Montreal, saying
his immediate presence was necessary there, on a business matter of
some importance; and he accordingly decided to go on the morrow.
"When may we expect you back?" asked Madam Conway, as in the morning
he was preparing for his journey.
"It will, perhaps, be two months at least, before I return," said
he, adding that there was a possibility of his being obliged to go
immediately to England.
In the recess of the window Maggie was standing, thinking how lonely
the house would be without him, and wishing there was no such thing
as parting from those she liked--even as little as she did Arthur
"I won't let him know that I care, though," she thought, and forcing a
smile to her face she was about turning to bid him good-by, when she
heard him tell her grandmother of the possibility there was that he
would be obliged to go directly to England from Montreal.
"Then I may never see him again," she thought; and the tears burst
forth involuntarily at the idea of parting with him forever.
Faster and faster they came, until at last, fearing lest he should
see them, she ran away upstairs, and, mounting to the roof, sat down
behind the chimney, where, herself unobserved, she could watch him far
up the road. From the half-closed door of her chamber Anna Jeffrey had
seen Maggie stealing up the tower stairs; had seen, too, that she
was weeping, and, suspecting the cause, she went quietly down to the
parlor to hear what Arthur Carrollton would say. The carriage was
waiting, his trunk was in its place, his hat was in his hand; to Madam
Conway he said good-by, to Anna Jeffrey too; and still he lingered,
looking wistfully round in quest of something which evidently was not
"Where's Margaret?" he asked at last, and Madam Conway answered:
"Surely, where can she be? Have you seen her, Anna?"
"I saw her on the stairs some time ago," said Anna, adding that
possibly she had gone to see Hagar, as she usually visited her at this
A shade of disappointment passed over Mr. Carrollton's face as he
replied, "Tell her I am sorry she thinks more of Hagar than of me."
The next moment he was gone, and leaning against the chimney Maggie
watched with tearful eyes the carriage as it wound up the grassy road.
On the brow of the hill, just before it would disappear from sight, it
suddenly stopped. Something was the matter with the harness, and while
John was busy adjusting it Mr. Carrollton leaned from the window, and,
looking back, started involuntarily as he caught sight of the figure
so clearly defined upon the housetop. A slight suspicion of the truth
came upon him, and kissing his hand he waved it gracefully towards
her. Maggie's handkerchief was wet with tears, but she shook it out in
the morning breeze, and sent to Arthur Carrollton, as she thought, her
Fearing lest her grandmother should see her swollen eyes, she stole
down the stairs, and taking her shawl and bonnet from the table in the
hall ran off into the woods, going to a pleasant, mossy bank not far
from Hagar's cottage, where she had more than once sat with Arthur
Carrollton, and where she fancied she would never sit with him again.
"I don't believe it's for him that I am crying," she thought, as she
tried in vain to stay her tears; "I always intended to hate him, and I
almost know I do; I'm only feeling badly because I won't run away, and
Henry and Rose will go without me so soon!" And fully satisfied at
having discovered the real cause of her grief, she laid her head upon
the bright autumn grass and wept bitterly, holding her breath, and
listening intently as she heard in the distance the sound of the
engine which was bearing Mr. Carrollton away.
It did not occur to her that he could not yet have reached the depot,
and as she knew nothing of a change in the time of the trains she was
taken wholly by surprise when, fifteen minutes later, a manly form
bent over her, as she lay upon the bank, and a voice, earnest and
thrilling in tones, murmured softly, "Maggie, are those tears for me?"
When about halfway to the station Mr. Carrollton had heard of the
change of time, and knowing he should not be in season had turned back
with the intention of waiting for the next train, which would pass in
a few hours. Learning that Maggie was in the woods, he had started in
quest of her, going naturally to the mossy bank, where, as we have
seen, he found her weeping on the grass. She was weeping for him--he
was sure of that. He was not indifferent to her, as he had sometimes
feared, and for an instant he felt tempted to take her in his arms and
tell her how dear she was to him.
"I will speak to her first," he thought, and so he asked if the tears
were for him.
Inexpressibly astonished and mortified at having him see her thus,
Maggie started to her feet, while angry words at being thus intruded
upon trembled on her lips. But winding his arm around her, Mr.
Carrollton drew her to his side, explaining to her in a few words how
he came to be there, and continuing: "I do not regret the delay, if by
its means I have discovered what I very much wish to know. Maggie, do
you care for me? Were you weeping because I had left you?"
He drew her very closely to him--looking anxiously into her face,
which she covered with her hands. She knew he was in earnest, and
the knowledge that he loved her thrilled her for an instant with
indescribable happiness. A moment, however, and thoughts of her
engagement with another flashed upon her. "She must not sit there thus
with Arthur Carrollton--she would be true to Henry," and with
mingled feelings of sorrow, regret, and anger--though why she should
experience either she did not then understand--she drew herself from
him; and when he said again: "Will Maggie answer? Are those tears
for me?" she replied petulantly: "No; can't a body cry without being
bothered for a reason? I came down here to be alone!"
"I did not mean to intrude, and I beg your pardon for having done
so," said Mr. Carrollton sadly, adding, as Maggie made no reply: "I
expected a different answer, Maggie. I almost hoped you liked me, and
I believe now that you do."
In Maggie's bosom there was a fierce struggle of feeling. She did like
Arthur Carrollton--and she thought she liked Henry Warner--at all
events she was engaged to him, and half angry at the former for
having disturbed her, and still more angry at herself for being thus
disturbed, she exclaimed, as he again placed his arm around her:
"Leave me alone, Mr. Carrollton. I don't like you. I don't like
anybody!" and gathering up her shawl, which lay upon the grass, she
ran away to Hagar's cabin, hoping he would follow her. But he did not.
It was his first attempt at love-making, and very much disheartened he
walked slowly back to the house; and while Maggie, from Hagar's door,
was looking to see if he were coming, he, from the parlor window, was
watching, too, for her, with a shadow on his brow and a load upon his
heart. Madam Conway knew that something was wrong, but it was in vain
that she sought an explanation. Mr. Carrollton kept his own secret;
and consoling herself with his volunteered assurance that in case
it became necessary for him to return to England he should, before
embarking, visit Hillsdale, she bade him a second adieu.
In the meantime Maggie, having given up all hopes of again seeing
Mr. Carrollton, was waiting impatiently the coming of Hagar, who was
absent, having, as Maggie readily conjectured, gone to Richland. It
was long past noon when she returned, and by that time the stains had
disappeared from Maggie's face, which looked nearly as bright as ever.
Still, it was with far less eagerness than usual that she took
from Hagar's hand the expected letter from Henry. It was a long,
affectionate epistle, urging her once more to accompany him, and
saying if she still refused she must let him know immediately, as they
were intending to start for New York in a few days.
"I can't go," said Maggie; "it would not be right." And going to the
time-worn desk, where, since her secret correspondence, she had kept
materials for writing, she wrote to Henry a letter telling him she
felt badly to disappoint him, but she deemed it much wiser to defer
their marriage until her grandmother felt differently, or at least
until she was at an age to act for herself. This being done, she went
slowly back to the house, which to her seemed desolate indeed. Her
grandmother saw readily that something was the matter, and, rightly
guessing the cause, she forebore questioning her, neither did she once
that day mention Mr. Carrollton, although Anna Jeffrey did, telling
her what he had said about her thinking more of Hagar than of himself,
and giving as her opinion that he was much displeased with Maggie for
her rudeness in running away.
"Nobody cares for his displeasure," answered Maggie, greatly vexed at
Anna, who took especial delight in annoying her.
Thus a week went by, when one evening, as Madam Conway and Maggie sat
together in the parlor, they were surprised by the sudden appearance
of Henry Warner. He had accompanied his aunt and sister to New York,
where they were to remain for a few days, and then impelled by a
strong desire to see Margaret once more he had come with the vain
hope that at the last hour she would consent to fly with him, or her
grandmother consent to give her up. All the afternoon he had been at
Hagar's cottage waiting for Maggie, and at length determining to see
her he had ventured to the house. With a scowling frown Madam Conway
looked at him through her glasses, while Maggie, half joyfully, half
fearfully, went forward to meet him. In a few words he explained why
he was there, and then again asked of Madam Conway if Margaret could
"I do not believe she cares to go," thought Madam Conway, as she
glanced at Maggie's face; but she did not say so, lest she should
awaken within the young girl a feeling of opposition.
She had watched Maggie closely, and felt sure that her affection
for Henry Warner was neither deep nor lasting. Arthur Carrollton's
presence had done much towards weakening it, and a few months more
would suffice to wear it away entirely. Still, from what had passed,
she fancied that opposition alone would only make the matter worse by
rousing Maggie at once. She knew far more of human nature than either
of the young people before her; and after a little reflection she
suggested that Henry should leave Maggie with her for a year, during
which time no communication whatever should pass between them, while
she would promise faithfully not to influence Margaret either way.
"If at the end of the year," said she, "you both retain for each other
the feelings you have now, I will no longer object to the marriage,
but will make the best of it."
At first Henry spurned the proposition, and when he saw that Margaret
thought well of it he reproached her with a want of feeling, saying
she did not love him as she had once done.
"I shall not forget you, Henry," said Maggie, coming to his side and
taking his hand in hers, "neither will you forget me; and when the
year has passed away, only think how much pleasanter it will be for us
to be married here at home, with grandma's blessing on our union!"
"If I only knew you would prove true!" said Henry, who missed
something in Maggie's manner.
"I do mean to prove true," she answered sadly, though at that moment
another face, another form, stood between her and Henry Warner, who,
knowing that Madam Conway would not suffer her to go with him on
any terms, concluded at last to make a virtue of necessity, and
accordingly expressed his willingness to wait, provided Margaret were
allowed to write occasionally either to himself or Rose.
But to this Madam Conway would not consent. She wished the test to
be perfect, she said, and unless he accepted her terms he must give
Maggie up, at once and forever.
As there seemed no alternative, Henry rather ungraciously yielded
the point, promising to leave Maggie free for a year, while she too
promised not to write either to him or to Rose, except with her
grandmother's consent. Maggie Miller's word once passed, Madam Conway
knew it would not be broken, and she unhesitatingly left the young
people together while they said their parting words. A message of love
from Maggie to Rose--a hundred protestations of eternal fidelity, and
then they parted; Henry, sad and disappointed, slowly wending his way
back to the spot where Hagar impatiently awaited his coming, while
Maggie, leaning from her chamber window, and listening to the sound of
his retreating footsteps, brushed away a tear, wondering the while why
it was that she felt so relieved.
Half in sorrow, half in joy, old Hagar listened to the story which
Henry told her, standing at her cottage door. In sorrow because she
had learned to like the young man, learned to think of him as Maggie's
husband, who would not wholly cast her oil, if her secret should
chance to be divulged; and in joy because her idol would be with her
yet a little longer.
"Maggie will be faithful quite as long as you," she said, when he
expressed his fears of her forgetfulness; and, trying to console
himself with this assurance, he sprang into the carriage in which he
had come, and was driven rapidly away.
He was too late for the night express, but taking the early morning
train he reached New York just as the sun was setting.
"Alone! my brother, alone?" queried Rose, as he entered the private
parlor of the hotel where she was staying with her aunt.
"Yes, alone; just as I expected," he answered somewhat bitterly.
Then very briefly he related to her the particulars of his adventure,
to which she listened eagerly, one moment chiding herself for the
faint, shadowy hope which whispered that possibly Maggie Miller would
never be his wife, and again sympathizing in his disappointment.
"A year will not be very long," she said, "and in the new scenes to
which you are going it will pass rapidly away;" and then, in her
childlike, guileless manner, she drew a glowing picture of the future,
when, her own health restored, they would return to their old home in
Leominster, where, after a few months more, he would bring to them his
"You are my comforting angel, Rose," he said, folding her lovingly in
his arms and kissing her smooth white cheek. "With such a treasure as
you for a sister, I ought not to repine, even though Maggie Miller
should never be mine."
The words were lightly spoken, and by him soon forgotten, but Rose
remembered them long, dwelling upon them in the wearisome nights, when
in her narrow berth she listened to the swelling sea as it dashed
against the vessel's side. Many a fond remembrance, too, she gave
to Maggie Miller, who, in her woodland home, thought often of the
travelers on the sea, never wishing that she was with them; but
experiencing always a feeling of pleasure in knowing that she was
Maggie Miller yet, and should be until next year's autumn leaves were
Of Arthur Carrollton she thought frequently, wishing she had not been
so rude that morning in the woods, and feeling vexed because in his
letters to her grandmother he merely said, "Remember me to Margaret."
"I wish he would write something besides that," she thought, "for I
remember him now altogether too much for my own good;" and then she
wondered what he would have said that morning, if she had not been so
Very little was said to her of him by Madam Conway, who, having
learned that he was not going to England, and would ere long return to
them, concluded for a time to let the matter rest, particularly as
she knew how much Maggie was already interested in one whom she had
resolved to hate. Feeling thus confident that all would yet end well,
Madam Conway was in unusually good spirits save when thoughts of Mrs.
Douglas, senior, obtruded themselves upon her. Then, indeed, in a most
unenviable state of mind, she repined at the disgrace which Theo had
brought upon them, and charged Maggie repeatedly to keep it a secret
from Mrs. Jeffrey and Anna, the first of whom made many inquiries
concerning the family, which she supposed of course was very
One day towards the last of November there came to Madam Conway a
letter from Mrs. Douglas, senior, wonderful alike in composition and
appearance. Directed wrong side up, sealed with a wafer, and stamped
with a thimble, it bore an unmistakable resemblance to its writer, who
expressed many regrets that she had not known "in the time on't" who
her illustrious visitors were.
"If I had known [she wrote] I should have sot the table in the parlor
certing, for though I'm plain and homespun I know as well as the next
one what good manners is, and do my endeavors to practice it. But do
tell a body [she continued] where you was muster day in Wooster. I
knocked and pounded enough to raise the dead, and nobody answered. I
never noticed you was deaf when you was here, though Betsy Jane thinks
she did. If you be, I'll send you up a receipt for a kind of intment
which Miss Sam Babbit invented, and which cures everything.
"Theodoshy has been to see us, and though in my way of thinkin' she
aint as handsome as Margaret, she looks as well as the ginerality of
women. I liked her, too, and as soon as the men's winter clothes is
off my hands I calkerlate to have a quiltin', and finish up another
bed quilt to send her, for, man-like, George has furnished up his
rooms with all sorts of nicknacks, and got only two blankets, and two
Marsales spreads for his bed. So I've sent 'em down the herrin'-bone
and risin'-sun quilts for everyday wear, as I don't believe in usin'
your best things all the time. My old man says I'd better let 'em
alone; but he's got some queer ideas, thinks you'll sniff your nose at
my letter, and all that, but I've more charity for folks, and well I
might have, bein' that's my name.
To this letter were appended three different postscripts. In the first
Madam Conway and Maggie were cordially invited to visit Charlton
again; in the second Betsy Jane sent her regrets; while in the third
Madam Conway was particularly requested to excuse haste and a bad pen.
"Disgusting creature!" was Madam Conway's exclamation as she finished
the letter, then tossing it into the fire without a passing thought,
she took up another one, which had come by the same mail, and was from
After dwelling at length upon the numerous calls she made, the parties
she attended, the compliments she received, and her curiosity to know
why her grandmother came back that day, she spoke of her recent visit
"You have been there, it seems [she wrote], so I need not
particularize, though I know how shocked and disappointed you must
have been; and I think it was kind in you to say nothing upon the
subject except that you had called there, for George reads all my
letters, and I would not have his feelings hurt. He had prepared me
in a measure for the visit, but the reality was even worse than I
anticipated. And still they are the kindest-hearted people in the
world, while Mr. Douglas is a man, they say, of excellent sense.
George never lived at home much, and their heathenish ways mortify
him, I know, though he never says a word except that they are his
"People here respect George, too, quite as much as if he were a
Conway, and I sometimes think they like him all the better for being
so kind to his old father, who comes frequently to the store. Grandma,
I begin to think differently of some things from what I did. Birth
and blood do not make much difference, in this country, at least; and
still I must acknowledge that I should feel dreadfully if I did not
love George and know that he is the kindest husband in the world."
The letter closed with a playful insinuation that as Henry Warner
had gone, Maggie might possibly marry Arthur Carrollton, and so make
amends for the disgrace which Theo had unwittingly brought upon the
For a long time after finishing the above, Madam Conway sat wrapped in
thought. Could it be possible that all her life she had labored under
a mistake? Were birth and family rank really of no consequence? Was
George just as worthy of respect as if he had descended directly from
the Scottish race of Douglas, instead of belonging to that vulgar
woman? "It may be so in America," she sighed, "but it is not true of
England," and, sincerely hoping that Theo's remark concerning Mr.
Carrollton might prove true, she laid aside the letter, and for the
remainder of the day busied herself with preparations for the return
of Arthur Carrollton, who had written that he should be with them on
the 1st of December.
The day came, and, unusually excited, Maggie flitted from room to
room, seeing that everything was in order, and wondering how he would
meet her and if he had forgiven her for having been so cross at their
last interview in the woods. The effect of every suitable dress in her
wardrobe was tried, and she decided at last upon a crimson and black
merino, which harmonized well with her dark eyes and hair. The dress
was singularly becoming, and feeling quite well satisfied with the
face and form reflected by her mirror she descended to the parlor,
where any doubts she might have had concerning her personal appearance
were put to flight by Anna Jeffrey, who, with a feeling of envy, asked
if she had the scarlet fever, referring to her bright color,
and saying she did not think too red a face becoming to anyone,
particularly to Margaret, to whom it gave a "blowsy" look, such as she
had more than once heard Mr. Carrollton say he did not like to see.
Margaret knew well that the dark-browed girl would give almost
anything for the roses blooming on her cheeks; so she made no reply,
but simply wished Anna would return to England, as for the last
two months she had talked of doing. It was not quite dark, and Mr.
Carrollton, if he came that night, would be with them soon. The car
whistle had sounded some time before, and Maggie's quick ear caught at
last the noise of the bells in the distance. Nearer and nearer they
came; the sleigh was at the door, and forgetting everything but her
own happiness Maggie ran out to meet their guest, nor turned her
glowing face away when he stooped down to kiss her. He had forgiven
her ill-nature, she was certain of that, and very joyfully she led the
way to the parlor, where as the full light of the lamp fell upon him
she started involuntarily, he seemed so changed.
"Are you sick?" she asked; and her voice expressed the deep anxiety
Forcing back a slight cough, and smiling down upon her, he answered
cheerfully, "Oh, no, not sick! Canada air does not agree with me,
that's all. I took a severe cold soon after my arrival in Montreal,"
and the cough he had attempted to stifle now burst forth, sounding to
Maggie, who thought only of consumption, like an echo from the grave.
"Oh, I am so sorry!" she answered sadly, and her eyes filled with
tears, which she did not try to conceal, for looking through the
window across the snow-clad field, on which the winter moon was
shining, she saw instinctively another grave beside that of her
Madam Conway had not yet appeared, and, as Anna Jeffrey just then
left the room, Mr. Carrollton was for some moments alone with Maggie.
Winding his arm around her waist, and giving her a most expressive
look, he said, "Maggie, are those tears for me?"
Instantly the bright blushes stole over Maggie's face and neck, for
she remembered the time when once before he had asked her a similar
question. Not now, as then, did she turn away from 'him, but she
answered frankly: "Yes, they are. You look so pale and thin, I'm sure
you must be very ill."
Whether Mr. Carrollton liked "blowsy" complexions or not, he certainly
admired Maggie's at that moment, and drawing her closer to his side,
he said, half playfully, half earnestly: "To see you thus anxious for
me, Maggie, more than atones for your waywardness when last we parted.
You are forgiven, but you are unnecessarily alarmed. I shall be better
soon. Hillsdale air will do me good, and I intend remaining here until
I am well again. Will you nurse me, Maggie, just as my sister Helen
would do were she here?"
The right chord was touched, and all the soft, womanly qualities
of Maggie Miller's nature were called forth by Arthur Carrollton's
failing health. For several weeks after his arrival at Hillsdale he
was a confirmed invalid, lying all day upon the sofa in the parlor,
while Maggie read to him from books which he selected, partly for the
purpose of amusing himself, and more for the sake of benefiting her
and improving her taste for literature. At other times he would tell
her of his home beyond the sea, and Maggie, listening to him while
he described its airy halls, its noble parks, its shaded walks, and
musical fountains, would sometimes wish aloud that she might one day
see that spot which seemed to her so much like paradise. He wished
so too, and oftentimes when, with half-closed eyes, his mind was
wandering amid the scenes of his youth, he saw at his side a queenly
figure with features like those of Maggie Miller, who each day was
stealing more and more into his heart, where love for other than his
nearest friends had never before found entrance. She had many faults,
he knew, but these he possessed both the will and the power to
correct, and as day after day she sat reading at his side he watched
her bright, animated face, thinking what a splendid woman she
would make, and wondering if an American rose like her would bear
transplanting to English soil.
Very complacently Madam Conway looked on, reading aright the
admiration which Arthur Carrollton evinced for Margaret, who in turn
was far from being uninterested in him. Anna Jeffrey, too, watched
them jealously, pondering in her own mind some means by which she
could, if possible, annoy Margaret. Had she known how far matters
had gone with Henry Warner, she would unhesitatingly have told it to
Arthur Carrollton; but so quietly had the affair been managed that she
knew comparatively little. This little, however, she determined to
tell him, together with any embellishments she might see fit to use.
Accordingly, one afternoon, when he had been there two months or more,
and Maggie had gone with her grandmother to ride, she went down to the
parlor under pretense of getting a book to read. He was much better
now, but, feeling somewhat fatigued from a walk he had taken in the
yard, he was reclining upon the sofa. Leaning over the rocking-chair
which stood near by, Anna inquired for his health, and then asked how
long since he had heard from home.
He liked to talk of England, and as there was nothing to him
particularly disagreeable in Anna Jeffrey he bade her be seated. Very
willingly she complied with his request, and, after talking a while of
England, announced her intention of returning home the last of March.
"My aunt prefers remaining with Madam Conway, but I don't like
America," said she, "and I often wonder why I am here."
"I supposed you came to be with your aunt, who, I am told, has been to
you a second mother," answered Mr. Carrollton; and Anna replied: "You
are right. She could not be easy until she got me here, where I know I
am not wanted--at least not altogether."
Mr. Carrollton looked inquiringly at her, and Anna continued, "I fully
supposed I was to be a companion for Margaret; but instead of that she
treats me with the utmost coolness, making me feel keenly my position
as a dependent."
"That does not seem at all like Maggie," said Mr. Carrollton; and,
with a meaning smile far more expressive than words, Anna answered:
"She may not always be alike. But hush! don't I hear bells?" and she
ran to the window, saying as she resumed her seat: "I thought they had
come: but I was mistaken. I dare say Maggie has coaxed her grandmother
to drive by the post office, thinking there might be a letter from
Her manner affected Mr. Carrollton perceptibly, but he made no reply;
and Anna asked if he knew Mr. Warner.
"I saw him in Worcester, I believe," he said; and Anna continued, "Do
you think him a suitable husband for a girl like Maggie?"
There was a deep flush on Arthur Carrollton's cheek, and his lips were
whiter than their wont as he answered, "I know nothing of him, neither
did I suppose Miss Miller ever thought of him for a husband."
"I know she did at one time," said his tormentor, turning the leaves
of her book with well-feigned indifference. "It was not any secret, or
I should not speak of it; of course Madam Conway was greatly opposed
to it too, and forbade her writing to him; but how the matter is now I
do not positively know, though I am quite sure they are engaged."
"Isn't it very close here? Will you please to open the hall door?"
said Mr. Carrollton suddenly, panting for breath; and, satisfied with
her work, Anna did as desired and then left him alone.
"Maggie engaged!" he said; "engaged!--when I hoped to win her for
myself!" and a sharp pang shot through his heart as he thought of
giving to another the beautiful girl who had grown so into his love.
"But I am glad I learned it in time," he continued, hurriedly walking
the floor, "knew it ere I had done Henry Warner a wrong by telling her
of my love, and asking her to go with me to my English home, which
will be desolate without her. This is why she repulsed me in the
woods. She knew I ought not to speak of love to her. Why didn't I see
it before, or why has not Madam Conway told me the truth! She at
least has deceived me;" and with a feeling of keen disappointment he
continued to pace the floor, one moment resolving to leave Hillsdale
at once, and again thinking how impossible it was to tear himself
Arthur Carrollton was a perfectly honorable man, and once assured of
Maggie's engagement he would neither by word nor deed do aught to
which the most fastidious lover could object, and Henry Warner's
rights were as safe with him as with the truest of friends. But was
Maggie really engaged? Might there not be some mistake? He hoped so at
least, and alternating between hope and fear he waited impatiently the
return of Maggie, who, with each thought of losing her, seemed tenfold
dearer to him than she had ever been before; and when at last she came
bounding in, he could scarcely refrain from folding her in his arms
and asking of her to think again ere she gave another than himself the
right of calling her his bride. But she is not mine, he thought; and
so he merely took her cold hands within his own, rubbing them until
they were warm. Then seating himself by her side upon the sofa he
spoke of her ride, asking casually if she called at the post office.
"No, we did not drive that way," she answered readily, adding that the
post office had few attractions for her now, as no one wrote to her
She evidently spoke the truth, and with a feeling of relief Mr.
Carrollton thought that possibly Miss Jeffrey might have been
mistaken; but he would know at all hazards, even though he ran the
risk of being thought extremely rude. Accordingly, that evening, after
Mrs. Jeffrey and Anna had retired to their room, and while Madam
Conway was giving some household directions in the kitchen, he asked
her to come and sit by him as he lay upon the sofa, himself placing
her chair where the lamplight would fall full upon her face and
reveal its every expression. Closing the piano, she complied with his
request, and then waited in silence for what he wanted to say.
"Maggie," he began, "you may think me bold, but there is something I
very much wish to know, and which you, if you choose, can tell me.
From what I have heard, I am led to think you are engaged. Will you
tell me if this is true?"
The bright color faded from Maggie's cheek, while her eyes grew darker
than before, and still she did not speak. Not that she was angry with
him for asking her that question; but because the answer, which, if
made at all, must be yes, was hard to utter. And yet why should she
hesitate to tell him the truth at once?
Alas, for thee, Maggie Miller! The fancied love you feel for Henry
Warner is fading fast away. Arthur Carrollton is a dangerous rival,
and even now you cannot meet the glance of his expressive eyes without
a blush! Your better judgment acknowledged his superiority to Henry
long ago, and now in your heart there is room for none save him.
"Maggie," he said, again stretching out his hand to take the
unresisting one which lay upon her lap, "you need not make me other
answer save that so plainly written on your face. You are engaged, and
may Heaven's blessing attend both you and yours!"
At this moment Madam Conway appeared, and fearing her inability to
control her feelings longer Maggie precipitately left the room. Going
to her chamber, she burst into a passionate fit of weeping, one moment
blaming Mr. Carrollton for having learned her secret, and the next
chiding herself for wishing to withhold from him a knowledge of her
"It is not that I love Henry less, I am sure," she thought; and laying
her head upon her pillow she recalled everything which had passed
between herself and her affianced husband, trying to bring back the
olden happiness with which she had listened to his words of love. But
it would not come; there was a barrier in the way--Arthur Carrollton,
as he looked when he said so sadly, "You need not tell me, Maggie."
"Oh, I wish he had not asked me that question!" she sighed. "It has
put such dreadful thoughts into my head. And yet I love Henry as well
as ever--I know I do; I am sure of it, or if I do not, I will," and
repeating to herself again and again the words, "I will, I will," she
Will, however, is not always subservient to one's wishes, and during
the first few days succeeding the incident of that night Maggie often
found herself wishing Arthur Carrollton had never come to Hillsdale,
he made her so wretched, so unhappy. Insensibly, too, she became
a very little unamiable, speaking pettishly to her grandmother,
disrespectfully to Mrs. Jeffrey, haughtily to Anna, and rarely to Mr.
Carrollton, who after the lapse of two or three weeks began to talk of
returning home in the same vessel with Anna Jeffrey, at which time his
health would be fully restored. Then, indeed, did Maggie awake to
the reality that while her hand was plighted to one, she loved
another--not as in days gone by she had loved Henry Warner, but with a
deeper, more absorbing love. With this knowledge, too, there came the
thought that Arthur Carrollton had once loved her, and but for the
engagement now so much regretted he would ere this have told her so.
But it was too late! too late! He would never feel toward her again as
he once had felt, and bitter tears she shed as she contemplated
the fast-coming future, when Arthur Carrollton would be gone, or
shudderingly thought of the time when Henry Warner would return to
claim her promise.
"I cannot, cannot marry him," she cried, "until I've torn that other
image from my heart!" and then for many days she strove to recall the
olden love in vain; for, planted on the sandy soil of childhood, as it
were, it had been outgrown, and would never again spring into life. "I
will write to him exactly how it is," she said at last; "will tell
him that the affection I felt for him could not have been what a wife
should feel for her husband. I was young, had seen nothing of the
world, knew nothing of gentlemen's society, and when he came with his
handsome face and winning ways my interest was awakened. Sympathy,
too, for his misfortune increased that interest, which grandma's
opposition tended in no wise to diminish. But it has died out, that
fancied love, and I cannot bring it back. Still, if he insists, I will
keep my word, and when he comes next autumn I will not tell him 'No.'"
Maggie was very calm when this decision was reached, and opening her
writing desk she wrote just as she said she would, begging him to
forgive her if she had done him wrong, and beseeching Rose to comfort
him as only a sister like her could do. "And remember," she wrote at
the close, "remember that sooner than see you very unhappy, I will
marry you, will try to be a faithful wife; though, Henry, I would
rather not--oh, so much rather not!"
The letter was finished, and then Maggie took it to her grandmother,
who read it eagerly, for in it she saw a fulfillment of her wishes.
Very closely had she watched both Mr. Carrollton and Maggie, readily
divining the truth that something was wrong between them. But from
past experience she deemed it wiser not to interfere directly. Mr.
Carrollton's avowed intention of returning to England, however,
startled her, and she was revolving some method of procedure when
Margaret brought to her the letter.
"I am happier than I can well express," she said, when she had
finished reading it. "Of course you have my permission to send it. But
what has changed you, Maggie? Has another taken the place of Henry
"Don't ask me, grandma," cried Maggie, covering her face with her
hands; "don't ask me, for indeed I can only tell you that I am very
A little skillful questioning on Madam Conway's part sufficed to
explain the whole--how constant association with Arthur Carrollton had
won for him a place in Maggie's heart which Henry Warner had never
filled; how the knowledge that she loved him as she could love no
other one had faintly revealed itself to her on the night when he
asked if she were engaged, and had burst upon her with overwhelming
power when she heard that he was going home.
"He will never think of me again, I know," she said; "but, with my
present feelings, I cannot marry Henry, unless he insists upon it."
"Men seldom wish to marry a woman who says she does not love them, and
Henry Warner will not prove an exception," answered Madam Conway; and,
comforted with this assurance, Maggie folded up her letter, which was
soon on its way to Cuba.
The next evening, as Madam Conway sat alone with Mr. Carrollton, she
spoke of his return to England, expressing her sorrow, and asking why
he did not remain with them longer.
"I will deal frankly with you, madam," said he, "and say that if I
followed my own inclination I should stay, for Hillsdale holds for
me an attraction which no other spot possesses. I refer to your
granddaughter, who, in the little time I have known her, has grown
very dear to me--so dear that I dare not stay longer where she is,
lest I should love her too well, and rebel against yielding her to
For a moment Madam Conway hesitated; but, thinking the case demanded
her speaking, she said: "Possibly Mr. Carrollton, I can make an
explanation which will show some points in a different light from that
in which you now see them. Margaret is engaged to Henry Warner, I will
admit; but the engagement has become irksome, and yesterday she wrote
asking a release, which he will grant, of course."
Instantly the expression of Mr. Carrollton's face was changed, and
very intently he listened while Madam Conway frankly told him the
story of Margaret's engagement up to the present time, withholding
from him nothing, not even Maggie's confession of the interest she
felt in him, an interest which had weakened her girlish attachment for
"You have made me very happy," Mr. Carrollton said to Madam Conway,
as, at a late hour, he bade her good-night--"happier than I can well
express; for without Margaret life to me would be dreary indeed."
The next morning, at the breakfast table, Anna Jeffrey, who was
in high spirits with the prospect of having Mr. Carrollton for a
fellow-traveler, spoke of their intended voyage, saying she could
hardly wait for the time to come, and asking if he were not equally
impatient to leave so horrid a country as America.
"On the contrary," he replied, "I should be sorry to leave America
just yet. I have therefore decided to remain a little longer;" and his
eyes sought the face of Maggie, who, in her joyful surprise, dropped
the knife with which she was helping herself to butter; while Anna
Jeffrey, quite as much astonished, upset her coffee, exclaiming: "Not
going home! What has changed your mind?"
Mr. Carrollton made her no direct reply, and she continued her
breakfast in no very amiable mood; while Maggie, too much overjoyed
to eat, managed ere long to find an excuse for leaving the table. Mr.
Carrollton wished to do everything honorably, and so he decided to say
nothing to Maggie of the cause of this sudden change in his plan until
Henry Warner's answer was received, as she would then feel freer to
act as she felt. His resolution, however, was more easily made than
kept, and during the succeeding weeks, by actions, if not by words,
he more than once told Maggie Miller how much she was beloved; and
Maggie, trembling with fear lest the cup of happiness just within her
grasp should be rudely dashed aside, waited impatiently for the letter
which was to set her free. But weeks went by, and Maggie's heart grew
sick with hope deferred, for there came to her no message from the
distant Cuban shore, which in another chapter we shall visit.
BROTHER AND SISTER.
Brightly shone the moonlight on the sunny isle of Cuba, dancing
lightly on the wave, resting softly on the orange groves, and stealing
gently through the casement, into the room where a young girl
lay, whiter far than the flowers strewn upon her pillow. From the
commencement of the voyage Rose had drooped, growing weaker every day,
until at last all who looked upon her felt that the home of which she
talked so much would never again be gladdened by her presence. Very
tenderly Henry Warner nursed her, bearing her often in his arms up on
the vessel's deck, where she could breathe the fresh morning air as it
came rippling o'er the sea. But neither the ocean breeze, nor yet the
fragrant breath of Florida's aromatic bowers, where for a time they
stopped, had power to rouse her; and when at last Havana was reached
she laid her weary head upon her pillow, whispering to no one of the
love which was wearing her life away. With untold anguish at their
hearts, both her aunt and Henry watched her, the latter shrinking ever
from the thought of losing one who seemed a part of his very life.
"I cannot give you up, my Rose. I cannot live without you," he said,
when once she talked to him of death. "You are all the world to me;"
and, laying his head upon her pillow, he wept as men will sometimes
weep over their one great sorrow.
"Don't, Henry," she said, laying her tiny hand upon his hair. "Maggie
will comfort you when I am gone. She will talk to you of me, standing
at my grave, for, Henry, you must not leave me here alone. You must
carry me home and bury me in dear old Leominster, where my childhood
was passed, and where I learned to love you so much--oh, so much!"
There was a mournful pathos in the tone with which the last words were
uttered, but Henry Warner did not understand it, and covering the
little blue-veined hand with kisses he promised that her grave should
be made at the foot of the garden in their far-off home, where the
sunlight fell softly and the moonbeams gently shone. That evening
Henry sat alone by Rose, who had fallen into a disturbed slumber. For
a time he took no notice of the disconnected words she uttered in her
dreams, but when at last he heard the sound of his own name he drew
near, and, bending low, listened with mingled emotions of joy, sorrow,
and surprise to a secret which, waking, she would never have told
him, above all others. She loved him,--the fair girl he called his
sister,--but not as a sister loves; and now, as he stood by her, with
the knowledge thrilling every nerve, he remembered many bygone scenes,
when but for his blindness he would have seen how every pulsation of
her heart throbbed alone for him whose hand was plighted to another,
and that other no unworthy rival. Beautiful, very beautiful, was the
shadowy form which at that moment seemed standing at his side, and
his heart went out towards her as the one above all others to be his
"Had I known it sooner," he thought, "known it before I met the
peerless Maggie, I might have taken Rose to my bosom and loved her--it
may be with a deeper love than that I feel for Maggie Miller, for Rose
is everything to me. She has made and keeps me what I am, and how can
I let her die when I have the power to save her?"
There was a movement upon the pillow. Rose was waking, and as her soft
blue eyes unclosed and looked up in his face he wound his arms around
her, kissing her lips as never before he had kissed her. She was
not his sister now--the veil was torn away--a new feeling had been
awakened, and as days and weeks went by there gradually crept in
between him and Maggie Miller a new love--even a love for the
fair-haired Rose, to whom he was kinder, if possible, than he had been
before, though he seldom kissed her lips or caressed her in any way.
"It would be wrong," he said, "a wrong to myself--a wrong to her--and
a wrong to Maggie Miller, to whom my troth is plighted;" and he did
not wish it otherwise, he thought; though insensibly there came over
him a wish that Maggie herself might weary of the engagement and seek
to break it. Not that he loved her the less, he reasoned, but that he
pitied Rose the more.
In this manner time passed on, until at last there came to him
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