Part 4 out of 5
Maggie's letter, which had been a long time on the sea.
"I expected it," he thought, as he finished reading it, and though
conscious for a moment of a feeling of disappointment the letter
brought him far more pleasure than pain.
Of Arthur Carrollton no mention had been made, but he readily guessed
the truth; and thinking, "It is well," he laid the letter aside and
went back to Rose, deciding to say nothing to her then. He would wait
until his own feelings were more perfectly defined. So a week went by,
and again, as he had often done before, he sat with her alone in the
quiet night, watching her as she slept, and thinking how beautiful
she was, with her golden hair shading her childish face, her long
eyelashes resting on her cheek, and her little hands folded meekly
upon her bosom.
"She is too beautiful to die," he murmured, pressing a kiss upon her
This act awoke her, and, turning towards him she said, "Was I
dreaming, Henry, or did you kiss me as you used to do?"
"Not dreaming, Rose," he answered--then rather hurriedly he added: "I
have a letter from Maggie Miller, and ere I answer it I would read it
to you. Can you hear it now?"
"Yes, yes," she whispered faintly; "read it to me, Henry;" and,
turning her face away, she listened while he read that Maggie Miller,
grown weary of her troth, asked a release from her engagement.
He finished reading, and then waited in silence to hear what Rose
would say. But for a time she did not speak. All hope for herself had
long since died away, and now she experienced only sorrow for Henry's
"My poor brother," she said at last, turning her face towards him and
taking his hand in hers; "I am sorry for you--to lose us both, Maggie
and me. What will you do?"
"Rose," he said, bending so low that his brown locks mingled with the
yellow tresses of her hair--"Rose, I do not regret Maggie Miller's
decision, neither do I blame her for it. She is a noble, true-hearted
girl, and so long as I live I shall esteem her highly; but I too have
changed--have learned to love another. Will you sanction this new
love, dear Rose? Will you say that it is right?"
The white lids closed over the eyes of blue, but they could not keep
back the tears which rolled down her face, as she asked somewhat
sadly, "Who is it, Henry?"
There was another moment of silence, and then he whispered in her ear:
"People call her Rose; I once called her sister; but my heart now
claims her for something nearer. My Rose," he continued, "shall it be?
Will you live for my sake? Will you be my wife?"
The shock was too sudden--too great; and neither on that night, nor
yet the succeeding day, had Rose the power to answer. But as the dew
of heaven is to the parched and dying flower, so were these words of
love to her, imparting at once new life and strength, making her as it
were another creature. The question asked that night so unexpectedly
was answered at last; and then with almost perfect happiness at her
heart, she too added a few lines to the letter which Henry sent to
Maggie Miller, over whose pathway, hitherto so bright, a fearful
shadow was falling.
It was a rainy April day--a day which precluded all outdoor exercise,
and Hagar Warren, from the window of her lonely cabin, watched in vain
for the coming of Maggie Miller. It was now more than a week since she
had been there, for both Arthur Carrollton and herself had accompanied
the disappointed Anna Jeffrey to New York, going with her on board
the vessel which was to take her from a country she affected so to
"I dare say you'll be Maggie somebody else ere I meet you again," she
said to Maggie, at parting, and Mr. Carrollton, on the journey home,
found it hard to keep from asking her if for the "somebody else" she
would substitute his name, and so be "Maggie Carrollton."
This, however, he did not do; but his attentions were so marked, and
his manner towards her so affectionate, that ere Hillsdale was reached
there was in Maggie's mind no longer a doubt as to the nature of his
feelings toward her. Arrived at home, he kept her constantly at
his side, while Hagar, who was suffering from a slight attack of
rheumatism, and could not go up to the stone house, waited and
watched, thinking herself almost willing to be teased for the secret,
if she could once more hear the sound of Maggie's voice. The secret,
however, had been forgotten in the exciting scenes through which
Maggie had passed since first she learned of its existence; and it was
now a long time since she had mentioned it to Hagar, who each day grew
more and more determined never to reveal it.
"My life is almost ended," she thought, "and the secret shall go with
me to my grave. Margaret will be happier without it, and it shall not
Thus she reasoned on that rainy afternoon, when she sat waiting for
Maggie, who, she heard, had returned the day before. Slowly the hours
dragged on, and the night shadows fell at last upon the forest
trees, creeping into the corners of Hagar's room, resting upon the
hearthstone, falling upon the window pane, creeping up the wall, and
affecting Hagar with a nameless fear of some impending evil. This fear
not even the flickering flame of the lamp, which she lighted at last
and placed upon the mantel, was able to dispel, for the shadows grew
darker, folding themselves around her heart, until she covered her
eyes with her hands, lest some goblin shape should spring into life
The sound of the gate latch was heard, and footsteps were approaching
the door--not the bounding step of Maggie, but a tramping tread,
followed by a heavy knock, and next moment a tall, heavy-built man
appeared before her, asking shelter for the night. The pack he carried
showed him at once to be a peddler, and upon a nearer view Hagar
recognized in him a stranger who, years before, had craved her
hospitality. He had been civil to her then; she did not fear him now,
and she consented to his remaining, thinking his presence there might
dispel the mysterious terror hanging around her. But few words passed
between them that night, for Martin, as he called himself, was tired,
and after partaking of the supper that she prepared he retired to
rest. The next morning, however, he was more talkative, kindly
enlightening her with regard to his business, his family, and his
place of residence, which last he said was in Meriden, Conn.
It was a long time since Hagar had heard that name, and now, turning
quickly towards him, she said, "Meriden? That is where my Hester
lived, and where her husband died."
"I want to know!" returned the Yankee peddler. "What might have been
"Hamilton--Nathan Hamilton. Did you know him? He died nineteen years
ago this coming summer."
"Egzactly!" ejaculated the peddler, setting down his pack and himself
taking a chair, preparatory to a long talk. "Egzactly; I knowed him
like a book. Old Squire Hampleton, the biggest man in Meriden, and you
don't say his last wife, that tall, handsome gal, was your darter?"
"Yes, she was my daughter," answered Hagar, her whole face glowing
with the interest she felt in talking for the first time in her life
with one who had known her daughter's husband, Maggie's father. "You
knew her. You have seen her?" she continued; and Martin answered,
"Seen her a hundred times, I'll bet. Anyhow, I sold her the weddin'
gown; and now, I think on't, she favored you. She was a likely person,
and I allus thought that proud sister of his'n, the Widder Warner,
might have been in better business than takin' them children away as
she did, because he married his hired gal. But it's as well for them,
I s'pose, particularly for the boy, who is one of the fust young men
in Wooster now. Keeps a big store!"
"Warner, Warner!" interrupted old Hagar, the nameless terror of the
night before creeping again into her heart. "Whose name did you say
"The hull on 'em, boy, girl, and all, is called Warner now--one Rose,
and t'other Henry," answered the peddler, perfectly delighted with the
interest manifested by his auditor, who, grasping at the bedpost and
moving her hand rapidly before her eyes, as if to clear away a mist
which had settled there, continued, "I remember now, Hester told me of
the children; but one, she said, was a stepchild--that was the boy,
wasn't it?" and her wild, black eyes had in them a look of unutterable
anxiety, wholly incomprehensible to the peddler, who, instead of
answering her question said: "What ails you woman? Your face is as
white as a piece of paper?"
"Thinking of Hester always affects me so," she answered; and
stretching her hands beseechingly towards him, she entreated him to
say if Henry were not the stepchild.
"No marm, he warn't," answered the peddler, who, like a great many
talkative people, pretended to know more than he really did, and who
in this particular instance was certainly mistaken. "I can tell you
egzactly how that is: Henry was the son of Mr. Hampleton's first
marriage--Henry Hampleton. The second wife, the one your darter lived
with, was the Widder Warner, and had a little gal, Rose, when she
married Mr. Hampleton. This Widder Warner's husband's brother married
Mr. Hampleton's sister, the woman who took the children, and had Henry
change his name to Warner. The Hampletons and Warners were mighty
big-feelin' folks, and the old squire's match mortified 'em
"Where are they now?" gasped Hagar, hoping there might be some
"There you've got me!" answered Martin. "I haven't seen 'em this
dozen year; but the last I heard, Miss Warner and Rose was livin' in
Leominster, and Henry was in a big store in Wooster. But what the
plague is the matter?" he continued, alarmed at the expression of
Hagar's face, as well as at the strangeness of her manner.
Wringing her hands as if she would wrench her fingers from their
sockets, she clutched at her long white hair, and, rocking to and fro,
moaned, "Woe is me, and woe the day when I was born!"
From everyone save her grandmother Margaret had kept the knowledge of
her changed feelings towards Henry Warner; and looking upon a marriage
between the two as an event surely to be expected, old Hagar was
overwhelmed with grief and fear. Falling at last upon her knees, she
cried: "Had you cut my throat from ear to ear, old man, you could not
have hurt me more! Oh, that I had died years and years ago! But I must
live now--live!" she screamed, springing to her feet--"live to prevent
the wrong my own wickedness has caused!"
Perfectly astonished at what he saw and heard, the peddler attempted
to question her, but failing to obtain any satisfactory answers he
finally left, mentally pronouncing her "as crazy as a loon." This
opinion was confirmed by the people on whom he next called, for,
chancing to speak of Hagar, he was told that nothing which she did or
said was considered strange, as she had been called insane for years.
This satisfied Martin, who made no further mention of her, and
thus the scandal which his story might otherwise have produced was
In the meantime on her face lay old Hagar, moaning bitterly. "My sin
has found me out; and just when I thought it never need be known! For
myself I do not care; but Maggie, Maggie--how can I tell her that she
is bone of my bone, blood of my blood, flesh of my flesh--and me old
It would be impossible to describe the scorn and intense loathing
concentrated in the tones of Hagar's voice as she uttered these last
words, "and me old Hagar Warren!" Had she indeed been the veriest
wretch on earth, she could not have hated herself more than she did in
that hour of her humiliation, when, with a loud voice, she cried, "Let
me die, oh, let me die, and it will never be known!" Then, as she
reflected upon the terrible consequence which would ensue were she to
die and make no sign, she wrung her hands despairingly, crying: "Life,
life--yes, give me life to tell her of my guilt; and then it will be
a blessed rest to die. Oh, Margaret, my precious child, I'd give my
heart's blood, drop by drop, to save you; but it can't be; you must
not wed your father's son; oh, Maggie, Maggie, Maggie!"
Fainter and fainter grew each succeeding word, and when the last was
spoken she fell again upon her face, unconscious and forgetful of her
woe. Higher and higher in the heavens rose the morning sun, stealing
across the window sill, and shining aslant the floor, where Hagar
still lay in a deep, deathlike swoon. An hour passed on, and then the
wretched woman came slowly back to life, her eyes lighting up with
joy, as she whispered, "It was a dream, thank Heaven, 'twas a dream!"
and then growing dim with tears, as the dread reality came over her.
The first fearful burst of grief was passed, for Hagar now could weep,
and tears did her good, quelling the feverish agony at her heart. Not
for herself did she suffer so much as for Maggie, trembling for the
effect the telling of the secret would have on her. For it must be
told. She knew that full well, and as the sun fast neared the western
horizon, she murmured, "Oh, will she come to-night, will she come
Yes, Hagar, she will. Even now her feet, which, when they backward
turn, will tread less joyously, are threading the woodland path. The
halfway rock is reached--nearer and nearer she comes--her shadow
falls across the floor--her hand is on your arm--her voice in your
ear--Maggie Miller is at your side--Heaven help you both!
THE TELLING OF THE SECRET.
"Hagar! Hagar!" exclaimed Maggie, playfully bounding to her side, and
laying her hand upon her arm. "What aileth thee, Hagar?"
The words were meet, for never Hagar in the desert, thirsting for the
gushing fountain, suffered more than did she who sat with covered face
and made no word of answer. Maggie was unusually happy that day, for
but a few hours before she had received Henry's letter making her
free--free to love Arthur Carrollton, who she well knew only waited a
favorable opportunity to tell her of his love; so with a heart full of
happiness she had stolen away to visit Hagar, reproaching herself as
she came for having neglected her so long. "But I'll make amends by
telling her what I'm sure she must have guessed," she thought, as she
entered the cottage, where, to her surprise, she found her weeping.
Thinking the old woman's distress might possibly be occasioned by her
neglect, she spoke again. "Are you crying for me, Hagar?"
"Yes, Maggie Miller, for you--for you!" answered Hagar, lifting up a
face so ghastly white that Maggie started back in some alarm.
"Poor Hagar, you are ill," she said, and advancing nearer she wound
her arms around the trembling form, and, pillowing the snowy head upon
her bosom, continued soothingly: "I did not mean to stay away long. I
will not do it again, but I am so happy, Hagar, so happy that I half
For a moment Hagar let her head repose upon the bosom of her child,
then murmuring softly, "It will never lie there again," she arose,
and, confronting Maggie, said, "Is it love which makes you so happy?"
"Yes, Hagar, love," answered Margaret, the deep blushes stealing over
her glowing face.
"And is it your intention to marry the man you love?" continued Hagar,
thinking only of Henry Warner, while Margaret, thinking only of Arthur
Carrollton, replied, "If he will marry me, I shall most surely marry
"It is enough. I must tell her," whispered Hagar; while Maggie asked,
"Tell me what?"
For a moment the wild eyes fastened themselves upon her with a look
of yearning anguish, and then Hagar answered slowly, "Tell you what
you've often wished to know--my secret!" the last word dropping from
her lips more like a warning hiss than like a human sound. It was long
since Maggie had teased for the secret, so absorbed had she been in
other matters, but now that there was a prospect of knowing it
her curiosity was reawakened, and while her eyes glistened with
expectation, she said, "Yes, tell it to me, Hagar, and then I'll tell
you mine;" and all over her beautiful face there shone a joyous
light as she thought how Hagar, who had once pronounced Henry Warner
unworthy, would rejoice in her new love.
"Not here, Maggie--not here in this room can I tell you," said old
Hagar; "but out in the open air, where my breath will come more
freely;" and, leading the way, she hobbled to the mossy bank where
Maggie had sat with Arthur Carrollton on the morning of his departure
Here she sat down, while Maggie threw herself upon the damp ground at
her feet, her face lighted with eager curiosity and her lustrous eyes
bright as stars with excitement. For a moment Hagar bent forward, and,
folding her hands one above the other, laid them upon the head of the
young girl as if to gather strength for what she was to say. But all
in vain; for when she essayed to speak her tongue clave to the roof of
her mouth, and her lips gave forth unmeaning sounds.
"It must be something terrible to affect her so," thought Maggie, and,
taking the bony hands between her own, she said, "I would not tell it,
Hagar; I do not wish to hear."
The voice aroused the half-fainting woman, and, withdrawing her hand
from Maggie's grasp, she replied, "Turn away your face, Margaret
Miller, so I cannot see the hatred settling over it, when I tell you
what I must."
"Certainly; my back if you prefer it," answered Maggie, half
playfully; and turning round she leaned her head against the feeble
knees of Hagar.
"Maggie, Maggie," began the poor old woman, lingering long and
lovingly over that dear name, "nineteen years ago, next December, I
took upon my soul the secret sin which has worn my life away, but I
did it for the love I had for you. Oh, Margaret, believe it, for the
love I had for you, more than for my own ambition;" and the long
fingers slid nervously over the bands of shining hair just within her
At the touch of those fingers, Maggie shuddered involuntarily. There
was a vague, undefined terror stealing over her, and, impatient to
know the worst, she said, "Go on, tell me what you did."
"I can't--I can't--and yet I must!" cried Hagar. "You were a beautiful
baby, Maggie, and the other one was sickly, pinched, and blue. I
had you both in my room the night after Hester died; and the
devil--Maggie, do you know how the devil will creep into the heart,
and whisper, whisper till the brain is all on fire? This thing he did
to me, Maggie, nineteen years ago, he whispered--whispered dreadful
things, and his whisperings were of you!"
"Horrible, Hagar!" exclaimed Maggie. "Leave the devil, and tell me of
"That's it," answered Hagar. "If I had but left him then, this hour
would never have come to me; but I listened, and when he told me that
a handsome, healthy child would be more acceptable to the Conways than
a weakly, fretful one--when he said that Hagar Warren's grandchild had
far better be a lady than a drudge--that no one would ever know it,
for none had noticed either--I did it, Maggie Miller; I took you from
the pine-board cradle where you lay--I dressed you in the other baby's
clothes--I laid you on her pillow--I wrapped her in your coarse white
frock--I said that she was mine, and Margaret--oh, Heaven! can't you
see it? Don't you know that I, the shriveled, skinny hag who tells you
this, am your own grandmother!"
There was no need for Maggie Miller to answer that appeal. The words
had burned into her soul--scorching her very life-blood, and maddening
her brain. It was a fearful blow--crushing her at once. She saw it
all, understood it all, and knew there was no hope. The family pride
at which she had often laughed was strong within her, and could not at
once be rooted out. All the fond household memories, though desecrated
and trampled down, were not so soon to be forgotten. She could not own
that half-crazed woman for her grandmother! As Hagar talked Maggie had
risen, and now, tall, and erect as the mountain ash which grew on her
native hills, she stood before Hagar, every vestige of color faded
from her face, her eyes dark as midnight and glowing like coals of
living fire, while her hands, locked despairingly together, moved
slowly towards Hagar, as if to thrust her aside.
"Oh, speak again!" she said, "but not the dreadful words you said to
me just now. Tell me they are false--say that my father perished in
the storm, that my mother was she who held me on her bosom when she
died--that I--oh, Hagar, I am not--I will not be the creature you say
I am! Speak to me," she continued; "tell me; is it true?" and in her
voice there was not the olden sound.
Hoarse--hollow--full of reproachful anguish it seemed; and, bowing her
head in very shame, old Hagar made her answer: "Would to Heaven 'twere
not true--but it is--it is! Kill me, Maggie," she continued, "strike
me dead, if you will, but take your eyes away! You must not look thus
at me, a heartbroken wretch."
But not of Hagar Warren was Maggie thinking then. The past, the
present, and the future were all embodied in her thoughts. She had
been an intruder all her life; had ruled with a high hand people on
whom she had no claim, and who, had they known her parentage, would
have spurned her from them. Theo, whom she had held in her arms so
oft, calling her sister and loving her as such, was hers no longer;
nor yet the fond woman who had cherished her so tenderly--neither was
hers; and in fancy she saw the look of scorn upon that woman's face
when she should hear the tale, for it must be told--and she must tell
it, too. She would not be an impostor; and then there flashed upon her
the agonizing thought, before which all else seemed as naught--in the
proud heart of Arthur Carrollton was there a place for Hagar Warren's
grandchild? "No, no, no!" she moaned; and the next moment she lay at
Hagar's feet, white, rigid, and insensible.
"She's dead!" cried Hagar; and for one brief instant she hoped that it
But not then and there was Margaret to die; and slowly she came back
to life, shrinking from the touch of Hagar's hand when she felt it on
"There may be some mistake," she whispered; but Hagar answered, "There
is none"; at the same time relating so minutely the particulars of the
deception that Maggie was convinced, and, covering her face with her
hands, sobbed aloud, while Hagar, sitting by in silence, was nerving
herself to tell the rest.
The sun had set, and the twilight shadows were stealing down upon
them, when, creeping abjectly upon her knees towards the wretched
girl, she said, "There is more, Maggie, more--I have not told you
But Maggie had heard enough, and, exerting all her strength, she
sprang to her feet, while Hagar clutched eagerly at her dress, which
was wrested from her grasp, as Maggie fled away--away--she knew not,
cared not, whither, so that she were beyond the reach of the trembling
voice which called after her to return. Alone in the deep woods, with
the darkness falling around her, she gave way to the mighty sorrow
which had come so suddenly upon her. She could not doubt what she had
heard. She knew that it was true, and as proof after proof crowded
upon her, until the chain of evidence was complete, she laid her head
upon the rain-wet grass, and shudderingly stopped her ears, to shut
out, if possible, the memory of the dreadful words, "I, the shriveled,
skinny hag who tells you this, am your own grandmother." For a long
time she lay there thus, weeping till the fountain of her tears seemed
dry; then, weary, faint, and sick, she started for her home. Opening
cautiously the outer door, she was gliding up the stairs when Madam
Conway, entering the hall with a lamp, discovered her, and uttered
an exclamation of surprise at the strangeness of her appearance. Her
dress, bedraggled and wet, was torn in several places by the briery
bushes she had passed; her hair, loosened from its confinement, hung
down her back, while her face was so white and ghastly that Madam
Conway in much alarm followed her up the stairs, asking what had
"Something dreadful came to me in the woods," said Maggie; "but I
can't tell you to-night. To-morrow I shall be better--or dead--oh, I
wish I could be dead--before you hate me so, dear grand--No, I didn't
mean that--you aint; forgive me, do;" and sinking to the floor she
kissed the very hem of Madam Conway's dress.
Unable to understand what she meant, Madam Conway divested her of her
damp clothing, and, placing her in bed, sat down beside her, saying
gently, "Can you tell me now what frightened you?"
A faint cry was Maggie's only answer, and taking the lady's hand
she laid it upon her forehead, where the drops of perspiration were
standing thickly. All night long Madam Conway sat by her, going once
to communicate with Arthur Carrollton, who, anxious and alarmed, came
often to the door, asking if she slept. She did sleep at last--a
fitful feverish sleep; but ever at the sound of Mr. Carrollton's voice
a spasm of pain distorted her features, and a low moan came from her
lips. Maggie had been terribly excited, and when next morning she
awoke she was parched with burning fever, while her mind at intervals
seemed wandering; and ere two days passed she was raving with
delirium, brought on, the physician said, by some sudden shock, the
nature of which no one could even guess.
For three weeks she hovered between life and death, whispering oft
of the horrid shape which had met her in the woods, robbing her of
happiness and life. Winding her feeble arms around Madam Conway's
neck, she would beg of her most piteously not to cast her off--not to
send her away from the only home she had ever known--"For I couldn't
help it," she would say. "I didn't know it, and I've loved you all so
much--so much! Say, grandma, may I call you grandma all the same? Will
you love poor Maggie a little?" and Madam Conway, listening to words
whose meaning she could not fathom, would answer by laying the aching
head upon her bosom, and trying to soothe the excited girl. Theo, too,
was summoned home, but at her Maggie at first refused to look, and,
covering her eyes with her hand, she whispered scornfully, "Pinched,
and blue, and pale; that's the very look. I couldn't see it when I
called you sister."
Then her mood would change, and motioning Theo to her side she would
say to her, "Kiss me once, Theo, just as you used to do when I was
Towards Arthur Carrollton she from the first manifested fear,
shuddering whenever he approached her, and still exhibiting signs of
uneasiness if he left her sight. "He hates me," she said, "hates me
for what I could not help;" and when, as he often did, he came to her
bedside, speaking words of love, she would answer mournfully: "Don't,
Mr. Carrollton; your pride is stronger than your love. You will hate
me when you know all."
Thus two weeks went by, and then with the first May day reason
returned again, bringing life and strength to the invalid, and joy to
those who had so anxiously watched over her. Almost her first rational
question was for Hagar, asking if she had been there.
"She is confined to her bed with inflammatory rheumatism," answered
Madam Conway; "but she inquires for you every day, they say; and once
when told you could not live she started to crawl on her hands and
knees to see you, but fainted near the gate, and was carried back."
"Poor old woman!" murmured Maggie, the tears rolling down her cheeks,
as she thought how strong must be the love that half-crazed creature
bore her, and how little it was returned, for every feeling of her
nature revolted from claiming a near relationship with one whom she
had hitherto regarded as a servant. The secret, too, seemed harder to
divulge, and day by day she put it off, saying to them when they asked
what had so much affected her that she could not tell them yet--she
must wait till she was stronger.
So Theo went back to Worcester as mystified as ever, and Maggie was
left much alone with Arthur Carrollton, who strove in various ways to
win her from the melancholy into which she had fallen. All day long
she would sit by the open window, seemingly immovable, her large eyes,
now intensely black, fixed upon vacancy, and her white face giving no
sign of the fierce struggle within, save when Madam Conway, coming to
her side, would lay her hand caressingly on her in token of sympathy.
Then, indeed, her lips would quiver, and turning her head away, she
would say, "Don't touch me--don't!"
To Arthur Carrollton she would listen with apparent composure, though
often as he talked her long, tapering nails left their impress in her
flesh, so hard she strove to seem indifferent. Once when they were
left together alone he drew her to his side, and bending very low,
so that his lips almost touched her marble cheek, he told her of his
love, and how full of anguish had been his heart when he thought that
she would die.
"But God kindly gave you back to me," he said; "and now, my precious
Margaret, will you be my wife? Will you go with me to my English home,
from which I have tarried now too long because I would not leave you?
Will Maggie answer me?" and he folded her lovingly in his arms.
Oh, how could she tell him No, when every fiber of her heart thrilled
with the answer Yes. She mistook him--mistook the character of Arthur
Carrollton, for, though pride was strong within him, he loved the
beautiful girl who lay trembling in his arms better than he loved his
pride; and had she told him then who and what she was, he would
not have deemed it a disgrace to love a child of Hagar Warren. But
Margaret did not know him, and when he said again, "Will Maggie answer
me?" there came from her lips a piteous, wailing cry, and turning her
face away she answered mournfully: "No, Mr. Carrollton, no, I cannot
be your wife. It breaks my heart to tell you so; but if you knew what
I know, you would never have spoken to me words of love. You would
have rather thrust me from you, for indeed I am unworthy."
"Don't you love me, Maggie?" Mr. Carrollton said, and in the tones of
his voice there was so much tenderness that Maggie burst into tears,
and, involuntarily resting her head upon his bosom, answered sadly: "I
love you so much, Arthur Carrollton, that I would die a hundred deaths
could that make me worthy of you, as not long ago I thought I was. But
it cannot be. Something terrible has come between us."
"Tell me what it is. Let me share your sorrow," he said; but Maggie
only answered: "Not yet, not yet! Let me live where you are a little
longer. Then I will tell you all, and go away forever."
This was all the satisfaction he could obtain; but after a time she
promised that if he would not mention the subject to her until the
first of June, she would then tell him everything; and satisfied
with a promise which he knew would be kept, Mr. Carrollton waited
impatiently for the appointed time, while Maggie, too, counted each
sun as it rose and set, bringing nearer and nearer a trial she so much
Two days only remained ere the first of June, and in the solitude of
her chamber Maggie was weeping bitterly. "How can I tell them who I
am?" she thought. "How bear their pitying scorn, when they learn that
she whom they call Maggie Miller has no right to that name?--that
Hagar Warren's blood is flowing in her veins?--and Madam Conway thinks
so much of that! Oh, why was Hagar left to do me this great wrong? why
did she take me from the pine-board cradle where she says I lay, and
make me what I was not born to be?" and, falling on her knees, the
wretched girl prayed that it might prove a dream from which she would
ere long awake.
Alas for thee, poor Maggie Miller! It is not a dream, but a stern
reality; and you who oft have spurned at birth and family, why
murmur now when both are taken from you? Are you not still the
same,--beautiful,--accomplished, and refined,--and can you ask for
more? Strange that theory and practice so seldom should accord. And
yet it was not the degradation which Maggie felt so keenly, it was
rather the loss of love she feared; without that the blood of royalty
could not avail to make her happy.
Maggie was a warm-hearted girl, and she loved the stately lady she had
been wont to call her grandmother with a filial, clinging love which
could not be severed, and still this love was naught compared to what
she felt for Arthur Carrollton, and the giving up of him was the
hardest part of all. But it must be done, she thought; he had told her
once that were she Hagar Warren's grandchild he should not be riding
with her--how much less, then, would he make that child his wife! and
rather than meet the look of proud disdain on his face when first she
stood confessed before him, she resolved to go away where no one had
ever heard of her or Hagar Warren. She would leave behind a letter
telling why she went, and commending to Madam Conway's care poor
Hagar, who had been sorely punished for her sin. "But whither shall I
go, and what shall I do when I get there?" she cried, trembling at
the thoughts of a world of which she knew so little. Then, as she
remembered how many young girls of her age went out as teachers, she
determined to go at all events. "It will be better than staying here
where I have no claim," she thought; and, nerving herself for the
task, she sat down to write the letter which, on the first of June,
should tell to Madam Conway and Arthur Carrollton the story of her
It was a harder task than she supposed, the writing that farewell, for
it seemed like severing every hallowed tie. Three times she wrote "My
dear grandma," then with a throb of anguish she dashed her pen across
the revered name, and wrote simply "Madam Conway." It was a rambling,
impassioned letter, full of tender love--of hope destroyed--of deep
despair--and though it shadowed forth no expectation that Madam Conway
or Mr. Carrollton would ever take her to their hearts again, it begged
of them most touchingly to think sometimes of "Maggie" when she was
gone forever. Hagar was then commended to Madam Conway's forgiveness
and care. "She is old," wrote Maggie, "her life is nearly ended, and
if you have in your heart one feeling of pity for her who used to call
you grandma, bestow it, I pray you, on poor old Hagar Warren."
The letter was finished, and then suddenly remembering Hagar's words,
that "all had not been told," and feeling it her duty to see once more
the woman who had brought her so much sorrow, Maggie stole cautiously
from the house, and was soon walking down the woodland road, slowly,
sadly, for the world had changed to her since last she trod that path.
Maggie, too, was changed, and when at last she stood before Hagar, who
was now able to sit up, the latter could scarcely recognize in the
pale, haggard woman the blooming, merry-hearted girl once known as
"Margaret!" she cried, "you have come again--come to forgive your poor
old grand--No, no," she added, as she saw the look of pain flash over
Maggie's face, "I'll never insult you with that name. Only say that
you forgive me, will you, Miss Margaret?" and the trembling voice was
choked with sobs, while the aged form shook as with a palsied stroke.
Hagar had been ill. Exposure to the damp air on that memorable night
had brought on a second severe attack of rheumatism, which had bent
her nearly double. Anxiety for Margaret, too, had wasted her to a
skeleton, and her thin, sharp face, now of a corpse-like pallor,
contrasted strangely with her eyes, from which the wildness all was
gone. Touched with pity, Maggie drew a chair to her side, and thus
replied: "I do forgive you, Hagar, for I know that what you did was
done in love; but by telling me what you have you've ruined all my
hopes of happiness. In the new scenes to which I go, and the new
associations I shall form, I may become contented with my lot, but
never can I forget that I once was Maggie Miller."
"Magaret," gasped Hagar, and in her dim eye there was something of its
olden fire, "if by new associations you mean Henry Warner, it must not
be. Alas, that I should tell this! but Henry is your brother--your
father's only son. Oh, horror! horror!" and dreading what Margaret
would say, she covered her face with her cramped, distorted hands.
But Margaret was not so much affected as Hagar had anticipated. She
had suffered severely, and could not now be greatly moved. There was
an involuntary shudder as she thought of her escape, and then her next
feeling was one of satisfaction in knowing that she was not quite
friendless and alone, for Henry would protect her, and Rose, indeed,
would be to her a sister.
"Henry Warner my brother!" she exclaimed; "how came you by this
knowledge?" And very briefly Hagar explained to her what she knew,
saying that Hester had told her of two young children, but she had
forgotten entirely of their existence, and now that she was reminded
of it she could not help fancying that Hester said the stepchild was a
boy. But the peddler knew, of course, and she must have forgotten.
"When the baby they thought was you died," said Hagar, "I wrote to the
minister in Meriden, telling him of it, but I did not sign my name,
and I thought that was the last I should ever hear of it. Why don't
you curse me?" she continued. "Haven't I taken from you your intended
husband, as well as your name?"
Maggie understood perfectly now why the secret had been revealed, and
involuntarily she exclaimed, "Oh, had I told you first, this never
need have been!" and then hurriedly she explained to the repentant
Hagar how at the very moment when the dread confession was made she,
Maggie Miller, was free from Henry Warner.
From the window Maggie saw in the distance the servant who had charge
of Hagar, and, dreading the presence of a third person, she arose to
go. Offering her hand to Hagar, she said: "Good-by. I may never see
you again, but if I do not, remember that I forgive you freely."
"You are not going away, Maggie. Oh, are you going away!" and the
crippled arms were stretched imploringly towards Maggie, who answered:
"Yes, Hagar, I must go. Honor requires me to tell Madam Conway who
I am, and after that you know that I can not stay. I shall go to my
Three times old Hagar essayed to speak, and at last between a whisper
and a moan, she found strength to say: "Will you kiss me once, Maggie
darling? 'Twill be something to remember, in the lonesome nights when
I am all alone. Just once, Maggie! Will you?"
Maggie could not refuse, and gliding to the bowed woman's side she put
back the soft hair from off the wrinkled brow, and left there token of
* * * * *
The last May sun had set, and ere the first June morning rose Maggie
Miller would be nowhere found in the home her presence had made so
bright. Alone, with no eye upon her save that of the Most High, she
had visited the two graves, and, while her heart was bleeding at every
pore, had wept her last adieu over the sleeping dust so long held
sacred as her mother's. Then kneeling at the other grave, she
murmured, "Forgive me, Hester Hamilton, if in this parting hour my
heart clings most to her whose memory I was first taught to revere;
and if in the better world you know and love each other--oh, will both
bless and pity me, poor, wretched Maggie Miller!"
Softly the night air moved through the pine that overshadowed the
humble grave, while the moonlight, flashing from the tall marble,
which stood a sentinel over the other mound, bathed Maggie's upturned
face as with a flood of glory, and her throbbing heart grew still as
if indeed at that hushed moment the two mothers had come to bless
their child. The parting with the dead was over, and Margaret sat
again in her room, waiting until all was still about the old stone
house. She did not add to her letter another line telling of her
discovery, for she did not think of it; her mind was too intent upon
escaping unobserved; and when sure the family had retired she moved
cautiously down the stairs, noiselessly unlocked the door, and without
once daring to look back, lest she should waver in her purpose, she
went forth, heartbroken and alone, from what for eighteen happy years
had been her home. Very rapidly she proceeded, coming at last to an
open field through which the railroad ran, the depot being nearly a
quarter of a mile away. Not until then had she reflected that her
appearance at the station at that hour of the night would excite
suspicion, and she was beginning to feel uneasy, when suddenly around
a curve the cars appeared in view. Fearing lest she should be too
late, she quickened her footsteps, when to her great surprise she
saw that the train was stopping! But not for her they waited; in the
bright moonlight the engineer had discovered a body lying across
the track, and had stopped in time to save the life of a man, who,
stupefied with drunkenness, had fallen asleep. The movement startled
the passengers, many of whom alighted and gathered around the
In the meantime Margaret had come near, and, knowing she could not
now reach the depot in time, she mingled unobserved in the crowd, and
entering the rear car, took her seat near the door. The train at last
moved on, and as at the station no one save the agent was in waiting,
it is not strange that the conductor passed unheeded the veiled figure
which in the dark corner sat ready to pay her fare.
"He will come to me by and by," thought Maggie, but he did not, and
when Worcester was reached the fare was still uncollected. Bewildered
and uncertain what to do next, she stepped upon the platform, deciding
finally to remain at the depot until morning, when a train would leave
for Leominster, where she confidently expected to find her brother.
Taking a seat in the ladies' room, she abandoned herself to her
sorrow, wondering what Theo would say could she see her then. But
Theo, though dreaming it may be of Maggie, dreamed not that she was
near, and so the night wore on, Margaret sleeping towards daylight,
and dreaming, too, of Arthur Carrollton, who she thought had followed
her--nay, was bending over her now and whispering in her ear, "Wake,
Starting up, she glanced anxiously around, uttering a faint cry when
she saw that it was not Arthur Carrollton, but a dark, rough-looking
stranger, who rather rudely asked her where she wished to go.
"To Leominster," she answered, turning her face fully towards the man,
who became instantly respectful, telling her when the train would
leave, and saying that she must go to another depot, at the same time
asking if she had not better wait at some hotel.
But Maggie preferred going at once to the Fitchburg depot, which she
accordingly did, and drawing her veil over her face, lest some one of
her few acquaintances in the city should recognize her, she sat there
until the time appointed for the cars to leave. Then, weary and faint,
she entered the train, her spirits in a measure rising as she felt
that she was drawing near to those who would love her for what she was
and not for what she had been. Rose would comfort her, and already her
heart bounded with the thought of seeing one whom she believed to be
her brother's wife, for Henry had written that ere his homeward voyage
was made Rose would be his bride.
Ah, Maggie! there is for you a greater happiness in store--not a
brother, but a sister--your father's child is there to greet your
coming. And even at this early hour her snow-white fingers are
arranging the fair June blossoms into bouquets, with which she adorns
her home, saying to him who hovers at her side that somebody, she
knows not whom, is surely coming to-day; and then, with a blush
stealing over her cheek, she adds, "I wish it might be Margaret";
while Henry, with a peculiar twist of his comical mouth, winds his arm
around her waist, and playfully responds, "Anyone save her."
On a cool piazza overlooking a handsome flower garden the breakfast
table was tastefully arranged. It was Rose's idea to have it there,
and in her cambric wrapper, her golden curls combed smoothly back, and
her blue eyes shining with the light of a new joy, she occupies her
accustomed seat beside one who for several happy weeks has called her
his, loving her more and more each day, and wondering how thoughts of
any other could ever have filled his heart. There was much to be done
about his home, so long deserted, and as Rose was determined upon a
trip to the seaside he had made arrangements to be absent from
his business for two months or more, and was now enjoying all the
happiness of a quiet, domestic life, free from care of any kind. He
had heard of Maggie's illness, but she was better now, he supposed,
and when Theo hinted vaguely that a marriage between her and Arthur
Carrollton was not at all improbable, he hoped it would be so, for the
Englishman, he knew, was far better adapted to Margaret than he
had ever been. Of Theo's hints he was speaking to Rose as they sat
together at breakfast, and she had answered, "It will be a splendid
match," when the doorbell rang, and the servant announced, "A lady in
the parlor, who asks for Mr. Warner."
"I told you someone would come," said Rose. "Do, pray, see who it is.
How does she look, Janet?"
"Tall, white as a ghost, with big black eyes," was Janet's answer;
and, with his curiosity awakened, Henry Warner started for the parlor,
Rose following on tiptoe, and listening through the half-closed door
to what their visitor might say.
Margaret had experienced no difficulty in finding the house of Mrs.
Warner, which seemed to her a second Paradise, so beautiful and cool
it looked, nestled amid the tall, green forest trees. Everything
around it betokened the fine taste of its occupants, and Maggie, as
she reflected that she too was nearly connected with this family, felt
her wounded pride in a measure soothed, for it was surely no disgrace
to claim such people as her friends. With a beating heart she rang the
bell, asking for Mr. Warner, and now, trembling in every limb, she
awaited his coming. He was not prepared to meet her, and at first he
did not know her, she was so changed; but when, throwing aside her
bonnet, she turned her face so that the light from the window opposite
shone fully upon her, he recognized her in a moment, and exclaimed,
"Margaret--Margaret Miller! why are you here?"
The words reached Rose's ear, and darting forward she stood within
the door, just as Margaret, staggering a step or two towards Henry,
answered passionately, "I have come to tell you what I myself but
recently have learned"; and wringing her hands despairingly, she
continued, "I am not Maggie Miller, I am not anybody; I am Hagar
Warren's grandchild, the child of her daughter and your own father!
Oh, Henry, don't you see it? I am your sister. Take me as such, will
you? Love me as such, or I shall surely die. I have nobody now in the
wide world but you. They are all gone, all--Madam Conway, Theo too,
and--and--" She could not speak that name. It died upon her lips, and
tottering to a chair she would have fallen had not Henry caught her in
Leading her to the sofa, while Rose, perfectly confounded, still stood
within the door, he said to the half-crazed girl: "Margaret, I do not
understand you. I never had a sister, and my father died when I was
six months old. There must be some mistake. Will you tell me what you
Bewildered and perplexed, Margaret began a hasty repetition of Hagar's
story, but ere it was three-fourths told there came from the open door
a wild cry of delight, and quick as lightning a fairy form flew across
the floor, white arms were twined round Maggie's neck, kiss after kiss
was pressed upon her lips, and Rose's voice was in her ear, never
before half so sweet as now, when it murmured soft and low to the
weary girl: "My sister Maggie--mine you are--the child of my own
father, for I was Rose Hamilton, called Warner, first to please my
aunt, and next to please my Henry. Oh, Maggie darling, I am so happy
now!" and the little snowy hands smoothed caressingly the bands of
hair, so unlike her own fair waving tresses.
It was, indeed, a time of almost perfect bliss to them all, and for
a moment Margaret forgot her pain, which, had Hagar known the truth,
need not have come to her. But she scarcely regretted it now, when she
felt Rose Warner's heart throbbing against her own, and knew their
father was the same.
"You are tired," Rose said, at length, when much had been said by
both. "You must have rest, and then I will bring to you my aunt, our
aunt, Maggie--our father's sister. She has been a mother to me.
She will be one to you. But stay," she continued, "you have had no
breakfast. I will bring you some," and she tripped lightly from the
Maggie followed her with swimming eyes, then turning to Henry she
said, "You are very happy, I am sure."
"Yes, very," he answered, coming to her side. "Happy in my wife, happy
in my newly found sister," and he laid his hand on hers with something
of his former familiarity.
But the olden feeling was gone, and Maggie could now meet his glance
without a blush, while he could talk with her as calmly as if she
had never been aught to him save the sister of his wife. Thus often
changeth the human heart's first love.
After a time Rose returned, bearing a silver tray heaped with the most
tempting viands: but Maggie's heart was too full to eat, and after
drinking a cup of the fragrant black tea, which Rose herself had made,
she laid her head upon the pillow which Henry brought, and, with Rose
sitting by, holding lovingly her hand, she fell into a quiet slumber.
For several hours she slept, and when she awoke at last the sun was
shining in at the western window, casting over the floor a glimmering
light, and reminding her so forcibly of the dancing shadows on the
grass which grew around the old stone house that her eyes filled with
tears, and, thinking herself alone, she murmured, "Will it never be my
A sudden movement, the rustling of a dress, startled her, and lifting
up her head she saw standing near a pleasant-looking, middle-aged
woman, who, she rightly guessed, was Mrs. Warner, her own aunt.
"Maggie," the lady said, laying her hand on the fevered brow, "I have
heard a strange tale to-day. Heretofore I had supposed Rose to be my
only child, but though you take me by surprise you are not the less
welcome. There is room in my heart for you, Maggie Miller, room for
the youngest-born of my only brother. You are somewhat like him, too,"
she continued, "though more like your mother;" and with the mention of
that name a flush stole over the lady's face, for she, too, was very
proud, and her brother's marriage with a servant girl had never been
Mrs. Warner had seen much of the world, and Maggie knew her to be a
woman of refinement, a woman of whom even Madam Conway would not be
ashamed; and, winding her arms around her neck, she said impulsively,
"I am glad you are my aunt; and you will love me, I am sure, even if I
am poor Hagar's grandchild."
Mrs. Warner knew nothing of Hagar save from Henry's amusing
description, the entire truth of which she somewhat doubted; but she
knew that whatever Hagar Warren might be, the beautiful girl before
her was not answerable for it, and very kindly she tried to soothe
her, telling her how happy they would be together. "Rose will leave me
in the autumn," she said, "and without you I should be all alone." Of
Hagar, too, she spoke kindly and considerately, and Maggie, listening
to her, felt somewhat reconciled to the fate which had made her what
she was. Still, there was much of pride to overcome ere she could
calmly think of herself as other than Madam Conway's grandchild; and
when that afternoon, as Henry and Rose were sitting with her, the
latter spoke of her mother, saying she had a faint remembrance of a
tall, handsome girl who sang her to sleep on the night when her own
mother died, there came a visible shadow over Maggie's face, and
instantly changing the conversation she asked why Henry had never told
her anything definite concerning himself and family.
For a moment Henry seemed embarrassed. Both the Hamiltons and the
Warners were very aristocratic in their feelings, and by mutual
consent the name of Hester Warren was by them seldom spoken.
Consequently, if there existed a reason for Henry's silence with
regard to his own and Rose's history, it was that he disliked bringing
up a subject he had been taught to avoid, both by his aunt and the
mother of Mr. Hamilton, who for several years after her son's death
had lived with her daughter in Leominster, where she finally died.
This, however, he could not say to Margaret, and after a little
hesitancy he answered laughingly, "You never asked me for any
particulars; and, then, you know, I was more agreeably occupied than I
should have been had I spent my time in enlightening you with regard
to our genealogy"; and the saucy mouth smiled archly, first on
Rose, and then on Margaret, both of whom blushed slightly, the one
suspecting he had not told her the whole truth, and the other knowing
he had not.
Very considerate was Rose of Maggie's feelings and not again that
afternoon did she speak of Hester, though she talked much of their
father; and Margaret, listening to his praises, felt herself
insensibly drawn towards this new claimant for her filial love. "I
wish I could have seen him," she said; and, starting to her feet, Rose
answered: "Strange I did not think of it before. We have his portrait.
Come this way," and she led the half-unwilling Maggie into an
adjoining room, where from the wall a portly, good-humored-looking man
gazed down upon the sisters, his eyes seeming to rest with mournful
tenderness on the face of her whom in life they had not looked upon.
He seemed older than Maggie had supposed, and the hair upon his head
was white, reminding her of Hagar. But she did not for this turn away
from him. There was something pleasing in the mild expression of his
face, and she whispered faintly, "'Tis my father."
On the right of this portrait was another, the picture of a woman, in
whose curling lip and soft brown eyes Maggie recognized the mother of
Henry. To the left was another still, and she gazed upon the angel
face, with eyes of violet blue, and hair of golden brown, on which the
fading sunlight now was falling, encircling it as it were with a halo
"You are much like her," she said to Rose, who made no answer, for she
was thinking of another picture, which years before had been banished
to the garret by her haughty grandmother, as unworthy a place beside
him who had petted and caressed the young girl of plebeian birth and
"I can make amends for it, though," thought Rose, returning with
Maggie to the parlor. Then, seeking out her husband, she held with him
a whispered consultation, the result of which was that on the morrow
there was a rummaging in the garret, an absence from home for an
hour or two, and when about noon she returned there was a pleased
expression on her face, as if she had accomplished her purpose,
whatever it might have been.
All that morning Maggie had been restless and uneasy, wandering
listlessly from room to room, looking anxiously down the street,
starting nervously at the sound of every footstep, while her cheeks
alternately flushed and then grew pale as the day passed on. Dinner
being over she sat alone in the parlor, her eyes fixed upon the
carpet, and her thoughts away with one who she vaguely hoped would
have followed her ere this. True, she had added no postscript to tell
him of her new discovery; but Hagar knew, and he would go to her for a
confirmation of the letter. She would tell him where Maggie was
gone, and he, if his love could survive that shock, would follow her
thither; nay, would be there that very day, and Maggie's heart grew
wearier, fainter, as time wore on and he did not come. "I might have
known it," she whispered sadly. "I knew that he would nevermore think
of me," and she wept silently over her ruined love.
"Maggie, sister," came to her ear, and Rose was at her side. "I have a
surprise for you, darling. Can you bear it now?"
Oh, how eagerly poor Maggie Miller looked up in Rose's face! The car
whistle had sounded half an hour before. Could it be that he had come?
Was he there? Did he love her still? No, Maggie, no; the surprise
awaiting you is of a far different nature, and the tears flow afresh
when Rose, in reply to the question "What is it, darling?" answers,
"It is this," at the same time placing in Maggie's hand an ambrotype
which she bade her examine. With a feeling of keen disappointment
Maggie opened the casing, involuntarily shutting her eyes as if to
gather strength for what she was to see.
It was a young face--a handsome face--a face much like her own, while
in the curve of the upper lip and the expression of the large black
eyes there was a look like Hagar Warren. They had met together thus,
the one a living reality, the other a semblance of the dead, and she
who held that picture trembled violently. There was a fierce struggle
within, the wildly beating heart throbbing for one moment with a
newborn love, and then rebelling against taking that shadow, beautiful
though it was, in place of her whose memory she had so long revered.
"Who is it, Maggie?" Rose asked, leaning over her shoulder.
Maggie knew full well whose face it was she looked upon, but not yet
could she speak that name so interwoven with memories of another, and
she answered mournfully, "It is Hester Hamilton."
"Yes, Margaret, your mother," said Rose. "I never called her by that
name, but I respect her for your sake. She was my father's pet, so
it has been said, for he was comparatively old, and she his young
"Where did you get this?" Maggie asked; and, coloring crimson, Rose
replied, "We have always had her portrait, but grandmother, who was
very old and foolishly proud about some things, was offended at our
father's last marriage, and when after his death the portraits were
brought here, she--Forgive her, Maggie--she did not know you, or she
would not have done it--"
"I know," interrupted Maggie. "She despised this Hester Warren, and
consigned her portrait to some spot from which you have brought it and
had this taken from it."
"Not despised her!" cried Rose, in great distress, as she saw a dark
expression stealing over the face of Maggie, in whose heart a chord of
sympathy had been struck when she thought of her mother banished from
her father's side. "Grandma could not despise her," continued Rose;
"she was so good, so beautiful."
"Yes, she was beautiful," murmured Maggie, gazing earnestly upon the
fair, round face, the soft, black eyes, and raven hair of her who for
years had slept beneath the shadow of the Hillsdale woods. "Oh, I wish
I were dead like her!" she exclaimed at last, closing the ambrotype
and laying it upon the table. "I wish I was lying in that little grave
in the place of her who should have borne my name, and been what I
once was;" and bowing her face upon her hands she wept bitterly, while
Rose tried in vain to comfort her. "I am not sorry you are my sister,"
sobbed Margaret through her tears. "That's the only comfort I have
left me now; but, Rose, I love Arthur Carrollton so much--oh, so much,
and how can I give him up!"
"If he is the noble, true-hearted man he looks to be, he will not give
you up," answered Rose, and then for the first time since this meeting
she questioned Margaret concerning Mr. Carrollton and the relations
existing between them. "He will not cast you off," she said, when
Margaret had told her all she had to tell. "He may be proud, but he
will cling to you still. He will follow you, too--not to-day, perhaps,
nor to-morrow, but ere long he will surely come;" and, listening to
her sister's cheering words, Maggie herself grew hopeful, and that
evening talked animatedly with Henry and Rose of a trip to the seaside
that they were intending to make. "You will go, too, Maggie," said
Rose, caressing her sister's pale cheek, and whispering in her ear,
"Aunt Susan will be here to tell Mr. Carrollton where you are, if he
does not come before we go, which I am sure he will."
Maggie tried to think so too, and her sleep that night was sweeter
than it had been before for many weeks--but the next day came, and the
next, and Maggie's eyes grew dim with watching and with tears, for up
and down the road, as far as she could see, there came no trace of him
for whom she waited.
"I might have known it; it was foolish of me to think otherwise," she
sighed; and, turning sadly from the window where all the afternoon she
had been sitting, she laid her head wearily upon the lap of Rose.
"Maggie," said Henry, "I am going to Worcester to-morrow, and perhaps
George can tell me something of Mr. Carrollton."
For a moment Maggie's heart throbbed with delight at the thought of
hearing from him, even though she heard that he would leave her. But
anon her pride rose strong within her. She had told Hagar twice of
her destination, Hagar had told him, and if he chose he would have
followed her ere this; so somewhat bitterly she said: "Don't speak to
George of me. Don't tell him I am here. Promise me, will you?"
The promise was given, and the next morning, which was Saturday, Henry
started for Worcester on the early train. The day seemed long to
Maggie, and when at nightfall he came to them again it was difficult
to tell which was the more pleased at his return, Margaret or Rose.
"Did you see Theo?" asked the former; and Henry replied: "George told
me she had gone to Hillsdale. Madam Conway is very sick."
"For me! for me! She's sick with mourning for me!" cried Maggie.
"Darling grandma! she does love me still, and I will go home to her at
Then the painful thought rushed over her: "If she wished for me, she
would send. It's the humiliation, not the love, that makes her sick.
They have cast me off--grandma, Theo, all, all!" and, sinking upon the
lounge, she wept aloud.
"Margaret," said Henry, coming to her side, "but for my promise
I should have talked to George of you, for there was a troubled
expression on his face when he asked me if I had heard from
"What did you say?" asked Maggie, holding her breath to catch the
answer, which was, "I told him you had not written to me since my
return from Cuba, and then he looked as if he would say more, but a
customer called him away, and our conversation was not resumed."
For a moment Maggie was silent. Then she said: "I am glad you did not
intrude me upon him. If Theo has gone to Hillsdale, she knows that
I am here, and does not care to follow me. It is the disgrace that
troubles them, not the losing me!" and again burying her head in the
cushions of the lounge, she wept bitterly. It was useless for Henry
and Rose to try to comfort her, telling her it was possible that Hagar
had told nothing. "And if so," said Henry, "you well know that I am
the last one to whom you would be expected to flee for protection."
Margaret would not listen. She was resolved upon being unhappy, and
during the long hours of that night she tossed wakefully upon her
pillow, and when the morning came she was too weak to rise; so she
kept her room, listening to the music of the Sabbath bells, which to
her seemed sadly saying, "Home, home." "Alas! I have no home," she
said, turning away to weep, for in the tolling of those bells there
came to her no voice whispering of the darkness, the desolation, and
the sorrow that were in the home for which she so much mourned.
Thus the day wore on, and ere another week was gone Rose insisted upon
a speedy removal to the seashore, notwithstanding it was so early in
the season, for by this means she hoped that Maggie's health would be
improved. Accordingly, Henry went once more to Worcester, ostensibly
for money, but really to see if George Douglas now would speak to him
of Margaret. But George was in New York, they said; and, somewhat
disappointed, Henry went back to Leominster, where everything was
in readiness for their journey. Monday was fixed upon for their
departure, and at an early hour Margaret looked back on what had
been to her a second home, smiling faintly as Rose whispered to her
cheerily, "I have a strong presentiment that somewhere in our travels
we shall meet with Arthur Carrollton."
THE HOUSE OF MOURNING.
Come now over the hills to the westward. Come to the Hillsdale woods,
to the stone house by the mill, where all the day long there is heard
but one name, the servants breathing it softly and low, as if she who
had borne it were dead, the sister, dim-eyed now, and paler faced,
whispering it oft to herself, while the lady, so haughty and proud,
repeats it again and again, shuddering as naught but the echoing walls
reply to the heartbroken cry of, "Margaret, Margaret, where are you
Yes, there was mourning in that household--mourning for the lost one,
the darling, the pet of them all.
Brightly had the sun arisen on that June morning which brought to them
their sorrow, while the birds in the tall forest trees caroled as
gayly as if no storm-cloud were hovering near. At an early hour Mr.
Carrollton had arisen, thinking, as he looked forth from his window,
"She will tell me all to-day," and smiling as he thought how easy and
pleasant would be the task of winning her back to her olden gayety.
Madam Conway, too, was unusually excited, and very anxiously she
listened for the first sound of Maggie's footsteps on the stairs.
"She sleeps late," she thought, when breakfast was announced, and
taking her accustomed seat she bade a servant see if Margaret were
"She is not there," was the report the girl brought back.
"Not there!" cried Mr. Carrollton.
"Not there!" repeated Madam Conway, a shadowy foreboding of evil
stealing over her. "She seldom walks at this early hour," she
continued; and, rising, she went herself to Margaret's room.
Everything was in perfect order, the bed was undisturbed, the chamber
empty; Margaret was gone, and on the dressing-table lay the fatal
letter telling why she went. At first Madam Conway did not see it; but
it soon caught her eye, and tremblingly she opened it, reading but the
first line, "I am going away forever."
Then a loud shriek rang through the silent room, penetrating to Arthur
Carrollton's listening ear, and bringing him at once to her side. With
the letter still in her hand, and her face of a deathly hue, and her
eyes flashing with fear, Madam Conway turned to him as he entered,
saying, "Margaret has gone, left us forever--killed herself it may be!
Read!" And she handed him the letter, herself bending eagerly forward
to hear what he might say.
But she listened in vain. With lightning rapidity Arthur Carrollton
read what Maggie had written--read that she, his idol, the chosen
bride of his bosom, was the daughter of a servant, the grandchild of
old Hagar! And for this she had fled from his presence, fled because
she knew of the mighty pride which now, in the first bitter moment
of his agony, did indeed rise up, a barrier between himself and the
beautiful girl he loved so well. Had she lain dead before him, dead
in all her youthful beauty, he could have folded her in his arms, and
then buried her from his sight, with a feeling of perfect happiness
compared to that which he now felt.
"Oh, Maggie, my lost one, can it be!" he whispered to himself, and
pressing his hand upon his chest, which heaved with strong emotion, he
staggered to a seat, while the perspiration stood in beaded drops upon
his forehead and around his lips.
"What is it, Mr. Carrollton? 'Tis something dreadful, sure," said Mrs.
Jeffrey, appearing in the door, but Madam Conway motioned her away,
and, tottering to his side, said, "Read it to me--read."
The Sound of her voice recalled his wandering mind, and covering his
face with his hands he moaned in anguish; then, growing suddenly calm,
he snatched up the letter, which had fallen to the floor, and read it
aloud; while Madam Conway, stupefied with horror, sank at his feet,
and clasping her hands above her head, rocked to and fro, but made no
word of comment. Far down the long ago her thoughts were straying, and
gathering up many bygone scenes which told her that what she heard was
"Yes, 'tis true," she groaned; and then, powerless to speak another
word, she laid her head upon a chair, while Mr. Carrollton, preferring
to be alone, sought the solitude of his own room, where unobserved
he could wrestle with his sorrow and conquer his inborn pride, which
whispered to him that a Carrollton must not wed a bride so far beneath
Only a moment, though, and then the love he bore for Maggie Miller
rolled back upon him with an overwhelming power, while his better
judgment, with that love, came hand in hand, pleading for the fair
young girl, who, now that he had lost her, seemed a thousandfold
dearer than before. But he had not lost her; he would find her. She
was Maggie Miller still to him, and though old Hagar's blood were in
her veins he would not give her up. This resolution once made, it
could not be shaken, and when half an hour or more was passed he
walked with firm, unfaltering footsteps back to the apartment where
Madam Conway still sat upon the floor, her head resting upon the
chair, and her frame convulsed with grief.
Her struggle had been a terrible one, and it was not over yet, for
with her it was more than a matter of pride and love. Her daughter's
rights had been set at naught; a wrong had been done to the dead; the
child who slept beneath the pine had been neglected; nay, in life, had
been, perhaps, despised for an intruder, for one who had no right to
call her grandmother; and shudderingly she cried, "Why was it suffered
thus to be?" Then as she thought of white-haired Hagar Warren, she
raised her hand to curse her, but the words died on her lips, for
Hagar's deed had brought to her much joy; and now, as she remembered
the bounding step, the merry laugh, the sunny face, and loving words
which had made her later years so happy, she involuntarily stretched
out her arms in empty air, moaning sadly: "I want her here. I want
her now, just as she used to be." Then, over the grave of her buried
daughter, over the grave of the sickly child, whose thin, blue face
came up before her just as it lay in its humble coffin, over the
deception of eighteen years, her heart bounded with one wild, yearning
throb, for every bleeding fiber clung with a deathlike grasp to her
who had been so suddenly taken from her. "I love her still!" she
cried; "but can I take her back?" And then commenced the fiercest
struggle of all, the battling of love and pride, the one rebelling
against the child of Hagar Warren, and the other clamoring loudly that
without that child the world to her was nothing. It was the hour of
Madam Conway's humiliation, and in bitterness of spirit she groaned:
"That I should come to this! Theo first, and Margaret, my bright, my
beautiful Margaret, next! Oh, how can I give her up when I loved her
best of all--best of all!"
This was true, for all the deeper, stronger love of Madam Conway's
nature had gone forth to the merry, gleeful girl whose graceful,
independent bearing she had so often likened to herself and the
haughty race with which she claimed relationship. How was this
illusion dispelled! Margaret was not a Conway, nor yet a Davenport. A
servant-girl had been her mother, and of her father there was nothing
known. Madam Conway was one who seldom wept for grief. She had stood
calmly at the bedside of her dying husband, had buried her only
daughter from her sight, had met with many reverses, and shed for
all no tears, but now they fell like rain upon her face, burning,
blistering as they fell, but bringing no relief.
"I shall miss her in the morning," she cried, "miss her at noon,
miss her in the lonesome nights, miss her everywhere--oh, Margaret,
Margaret, 'tis more than I can bear! Come back to me now, just as you
are. I want you here--here where the pain is hardest," and she clasped
her arms tightly over her heaving bosom. Then her pride returned
again, and with it came thoughts of Arthur Carrollton. He would scoff
at her as weak and sentimental; he would never take beyond the sea a
bride of "Hagarish" birth; and duty demanded that she too should be
firm, and sanction his decision. "But when he's gone," she whispered,
"when he has left America behind, I'll find her, if my life is spared.
I'll find poor Margaret, and see that she does not want, though I must
not take her back."
This resolution, however, did not bring her comfort, and the hands
pressed so convulsively upon her side could not ease her pain. Surely
never before had so dark an hour infolded that haughty woman, and a
prayer that she might die was trembling on her lips when a footfall
echoed along the hall, and Arthur Carrollton stood before her. His
face was very pale, bearing marks of the storm he had passed through;
but he was calm, and his voice was natural as he said: "Possibly what
we have heard is false. It may be a vagary of Hagar's half-crazed
For an instant Madam Conway had hoped so too; but when she reflected,
she knew that it was true. Old Hagar had been very minute in her
explanations to Margaret, who in turn had written exactly what she had
heard, and Madam Conway, when she recalled the past, could have no
doubt that it was true. She remembered everything, but more distinctly
the change of dress at the time of the baptism. There could be no
mistake. Margaret was not hers, and so she said to Arthur Carrollton,
turning her head away as if she too were in some way answerable for
"It matters not," he replied, "whose she has been. She is mine now,
and if you feel able we will consult together as to the surest method
of finding her." A sudden faintness came over Madam Conway, and, while
the expression of her face changed to one of joyful surprise, she
stammered out: "Can it be I hear aright? Do I understand you? Are you
willing to take poor Maggie back?"
"I certainly have no other intention," he answered. "There was a
moment, the memory of which makes me ashamed, when my pride rebelled;
but it is over now, and though Maggie cannot in reality be again your
child, she can be my wife, and I must find her."
"You make me so happy--oh, so happy!" said Madam Conway. "I feared you
would cast her off, and in that case it would have been my duty to do
so too, though I never loved a human being as at this moment I love
Mr. Carrollton looked as if he did not fully comprehend the woman who,
loving Margaret as she said she did, could yet be so dependent upon
his decision; but he made no comment, and when next he spoke he
announced his intention of calling upon Hagar, who possibly could
tell him where Margaret had gone. "At all events," said he, "I may
ascertain why the secret, so long kept, was at this late day divulged.
It may be well," he continued, "to say nothing to the servants as yet,
save that Maggie has gone. Mrs. Jeffrey, however, had better be let
into the secret at once. We can trust her, I think."
Madam Conway bowed, and Mr. Carrollton left the room, starting
immediately for the cottage by the mine. As he approached the house he
saw the servant who for several weeks had been staying there, and who
now came out to meet him, telling him that since the night before
Hagar had been raving crazy, talking continually of Maggie, who, she
said, had gone where none would ever find her.
In some anxiety Mr. Carrollton pressed on, until the cottage door was
reached, where for a moment he stood gazing silently upon the poor
woman before him. Upon the bed, her white hair falling over her round,
bent shoulders, and her large eyes shining with delirious light, old
Hagar sat, waving back and forth, and talking of Margaret, of Hester,
and "the little foolish child," who, with a sneer upon her lip, she
said, "was a fair specimen of the Conway race."
"Hagar," said Mr. Carrollton; and at the sound of that voice Hagar
turned toward him her flashing eyes, then with a scream buried her
head in the bedclothes, saying: "Go away, Arthur Carrollton! Why are
you here? Don't you know who I am? Don't you know what Margaret is,
and don't you know how proud you are?"
"Hagar," he said again, subduing, by a strong effort, the repugnance
he felt at questioning her, "I know all, except where Margaret has
gone, and if on this point you can give me any information, I shall
receive it most thankfully."
"Gone!" shrieked Hagar, starting up in bed; "then she has gone. The
play is played out, the performance is ended--and I have sinned for
"Hagar, will you tell me where Maggie is? I wish to follow her," said
Mr. Carrollton; and Hagar answered: "Maggie, Maggie--he said that
lovingly enough, but there's a catch somewhere. He does not wish to
follow her for any good--and though I know where she has gone I'll
surely never tell. I kept one secret nineteen years. I can keep
another as long"; and, folding her arms upon her chest, she commenced
singing, "I know full well, but I'll never tell."
Biting his lips with vexation, Mr. Carrollton tried first by
persuasion, then by flattery, and lastly by threats, to obtain from
her the desired information, but in vain. Her only answer was, "I know
full well, but I'll never tell," save once, when tossing towards him
her long white hair, she shrieked: "Don't you see a resemblance--only
hers is black--and so was mine nineteen years ago--and so was Hester's
too--glossy and black as the raven's wing. The child is like the
mother--the mother was like the grandmother, and the grandmother is
like--me, Hagar Warren. Do you understand?"
Mr. Carrollton made no answer, and with a feeling of disappointment
walked away, shuddering as he thought, "And she is Margaret's
He found Madam Conway in hysterics on Margaret's bed, for she had
refused to leave the room, saying she would die there, or nowhere.
Gradually the reality of her loss had burst upon her, and now,
gasping, choking, and wringing her hands, she lay upon the pillows,
while Mrs. Jeffrey, worked up to a pitch of great nervous excitement,
fidgeted hither and thither, doing always the wrong thing, fanning the
lady when she did not wish to be fanned, and ceasing to fan her just
when she was "dying for want of air."
As yet Mrs. Jeffrey knew nothing definite, except that something
dreadful had happened to Margaret; but very candidly Mr. Carrollton
told her all, bidding her keep silent on the subject; then, turning to
Madam Conway, he repeated to her the result of his call on old Hagar.
"The wretch!" gasped Madam Conway, while Mrs. Jeffrey, running in her
fright from the window to the door, and from the door back to the
window again, exclaimed: "Margaret not a Conway, nor yet a Davenport,
after all! It is just what I expected. I always knew she came honestly
by those low-bred ways!"
"Jeffrey," and the voice of the hysterical woman on the bed was
loud and distinct, as she grasped the arm of the terrified little
governess, who chanced to be within her reach. "Jeffrey, either leave
my house at once, or speak more deferentially of Miss Miller. You
will call her by that name, too. It matters not to Mr. Carrollton and
myself whose child she has been. She is ours now, and must be treated
with respect. Do you understand me?"
"Yes, ma'am," meekly answered Jeffrey, rubbing her dumpy arm, which
bore the mark of a thumb and finger, and as her services were not just
then required she glided from the room to drown, if possible, her
grievance in the leather-bound London edition of Baxter!
Meanwhile Madam Conway was consulting with Mr. Carrollton as to the
best mode of finding Margaret. "She took the cars, of course," said
Mr. Carrollton, adding that he should go at once to the depot and
ascertain which way she went. "If I do not return to-night you need
not be alarmed," he said, as he was leaving the room, whereupon Madam
Conway called him back, bidding him telegraph for Theo at once, as she
must have someone with her besides that vexatious Jeffrey.
Mr. Carrollton promised compliance with her request, and then went
immediately to the depot, where he learned that no one had entered the
cars from that place on the previous night, and that Maggie, if she
took the train at all, must have done so at some other station. This
was not unlikely, and before the day was passed Mr. Carrollton had
visited several different stations, and had talked with the conductors
of the several trains, but all to no purpose; and, very much
disheartened, he returned at nightfall to the old stone house, where
to his surprise he found both Theo and her husband. The telegram had
done its mission, and feeling anxious to know the worst George had
come up with Theo to spend the night. It was the first time that Madam
Conway had seen him since her memorable encounter with his mother,
for though Theo had more than once been home, he had never before
accompanied her, and now when Madam Conway heard his voice in the hall
below she groaned afresh. The sight of his good-humored face, however,
and his kind offer to do whatever he could to find the fugitive,
restored her composure in a measure, and she partially forgot that he
was in any way connected with the blue umbrella, or the blue umbrella
connected with him! Never in her life had Theo felt very deeply upon
any subject, and now, though she seemed bewildered at what she heard,
she manifested no particular emotion, until her grandmother, wringing
her hands, exclaimed, "You have no sister now, my child, and I no
Margaret!" Then, indeed, her tears flowed, and when her husband
whispered to her, "We will love poor Maggie all the same," she cried
aloud, but not quite as demonstratively as Madam Conway wished; and,
in a very unamiable frame of mind, the old lady accused her of being
selfish and hard-hearted.
At this stage of proceedings Mr. Carrollton returned, bringing no
tidings of Maggie, whereupon another fit of hysterics ensued, and as
Theo behaved much worse than Mrs. Jeffrey had done, the latter was
finally summoned again to the sickroom, and at last succeeded in
quieting the excited woman. The next morning George Douglas visited
old Hagar, but he too was unsuccessful, and that afternoon he returned
to Worcester, leaving Theo with her grandmother, who, though finding
fault with whatever she did, refused to let her go until Margaret was
During the remainder of the week Mr. Carrollton rode through the
country, making the most minute inquiries, and receiving always the
same discouraging answer. Once he thought to advertise, but from
making the affair thus public he instinctively shrank, and, resolving
to spare neither his time, his money, nor his health, he pursued his
weary way alone. Once, too, Madam Conway spoke of Henry Warner, saying
it was possible Maggie might have gone to him, as she had thought so
much of Rose; but Mr. Carrollton "knew better." A discarded lover,
he said, was the last person in the world to whom a young girl like
Margaret would go, particularly as Theo had said that Henry was now
the husband of another.
Still the suggestion haunted him, and on the Monday following Henry
Warner's first visit to Worcester, he, too, went down to talk with Mr.
Douglas, asking him if it were possible that Maggie was in Leominster.
"I know she is not," said George, repeating the particulars of his
interview with Henry, who, he said, was at the store on Saturday.
"Once I thought of telling him all," said he, "and then, considering
the relation which formerly existed between them, I concluded to keep
silent, especially as he manifested no desire to speak of her,
but appeared, I fancied, quite uneasy when I casually mentioned
Thus was that matter decided, and while not many miles away Maggie
was watching hopelessly for the coming of Arthur Carrollton, he, with
George Douglas, was devising the best means for finding her, George
generously offering to assist in the search, and suggesting finally
that he should himself go to New York City, while Mr. Carrollton
explored Boston and its vicinity. It seemed quite probable that
Margaret would seek some of the large cities, as in her letter she
had said she could earn her livelihood by teaching music; and quite
hopeful of success, the young men parted, Mr. Carrollton going
immediately to Boston, while Mr. Douglas, after a day or two, started
for New York, whither, as the reader will remember, he had gone at the
time of Henry's last visit to Worcester.
Here for a time we leave them, Hagar raving mad, Madam Conway in
strong hysterics, Theo wishing herself anywhere but at Hillsdale, Mrs.
Jeffrey ditto, George Douglas threading the crowded streets of the
noisy city, and Mr. Carrollton in Boston, growing paler and sadder as
day after day passed by, bringing him no trace of the lost one. Here,
I say, we leave them, while in another chapter we follow the footsteps
of her for whom this search was made.
From the seaside to the mountains, from the mountains to Saratoga,
from Saratoga to Montreal, from Montreal to the Thousand Isles,
and thence they scarce knew where, the travelers wended their way,
stopping not long at any place, for Margaret was ever seeking change.
Greatly had she been admired, her pale, beautiful face attracting
attention at once; but from all flattery she turned away, saying to
Henry and Rose, "Let us go on."
So onward still they went, pausing longest at Montreal, for it was
there Arthur Carrollton had been, there a part of his possessions
lay, and there Margaret willingly lingered, even after her companions
wished to be gone.
"He may be here again," she said; and so she waited and watched,
scanning eagerly the passers-by, and noticing each new face as it
appeared at the table of the hotel where they were staying. But the
one she waited for never came. "And even if he does," she thought, "he
will not come for me."
So she signified her willingness to depart, and early one bright July
morning she left, while the singing birds from the treetops, the
summer air from the Canada hills, and, more than all, a warning voice
within her, bade her "Tarry yet a little, stay till the sun was
set," for far out in the country, and many miles away, a train was
thundering on. It would reach the city at nightfall, and among its
jaded passengers was a worn and weary man. Hopeless, almost aimless
now, he would come, and why he came he scarcely knew. "She would not
be there, so far from home," he felt sure, but he was coming for the
sake of what he hoped and feared when last he trod those streets.
Listlessly he entered the same hotel from whose windows, for five long
days, a fair young face had looked for him. Listlessly he
registered his name, then carelessly turned the leaves
backward--backward--backward still, till only one remained between his
hand and the page bearing date five days before. He paused and was
about to move away, when a sudden breeze from the open window turned
the remaining leaf, and his eye caught the name, not of Maggie Miller,
but of "Henry Warner, lady, and sister."
Thus it stood, and thus he repeated it to himself, dwelling upon the
last word "sister," as if to him it had another meaning. He had heard
from Madam Conway that neither Henry Warner nor Rose had a sister, but
she might be mistaken; probably she was; and dismissing the subject
from his mind, he walked away. Still the names haunted him, and
thinking at last that if Mr. Warner were now in Montreal he would
like to see him, he returned to the office, asking the clerk if the
occupants of Nos. ---- were there still.
"Left this morning for the Falls," was the laconic answer; and,
without knowing why he should particularly wish to do so, Mr.
Carrollton resolved to follow them.
He would as soon be at the Falls as in Montreal, he thought.
Accordingly he left the next morning for Niagara, taking the shortest
route by river and lake, and arriving there on the evening of the
second day after his departure from the city. But nowhere could a
trace be found of Henry Warner, and determining now to wait until he
came Mr. Carrollton took rooms at the International, where after a day
or two, worn out with travel, excitement, and hope deferred, he became
severely indisposed, and took his bed, forgetting entirely both Henry
Warner and the sister, whose name he had seen upon the hotel register.
Thoughts of Maggie Miller, however, were constantly in his mind, and
whether waking or asleep he saw always her face, sometimes radiant
with healthful beauty, as when he first beheld her, and again, pale,
troubled, and sad, as when he saw her last.
"Oh, shall I ever find her?" he would sometimes say, as in the dim
twilight he lay listening to the noisy hum which came up from the
public room below.
And once, as he lay there thus, he dreamed, and in his dreams there
came through the open window a clear, silvery voice, breathing the
loved name of Maggie. Again he heard it on the stairs, then little
tripping feet went past his door, followed by a slow, languid tread,
and with a nervous start the sick man awoke. The day had been cloudy
and dark, but the rain was over now, and the room was full of
sunshine--sunshine dancing on the walls, sunshine glimmering on the
floor, sunshine everywhere. Insensibly, too, there stole over Mr.
Carrollton's senses a feeling of quiet, of rest, and he slept ere long
again, dreaming this time that Margaret was there.
Yes, Margaret was there--there, beneath the same roof which sheltered
him and the same sunshine which filled his room with light had bathed
her white brow, as, leaning from her window, she listened to the roar
of the falling water. They had lingered on their way, stopping at the
Thousand Isles, for Margaret would have it so; but they had come at
last, and the tripping footsteps in the hall, the silvery voice upon
the stairs, was that of the golden-haired Rose, who watched over
Margaret with all a sister's love and a mother's care. The frequent
jokes of the fun-loving Henry, too, were not without their good
effect, and Margaret was better now than she had been for many weeks.
"I can rest here," she said, and a faint color came to her cheeks,
making her look more like herself than at any time since that terrible
night of sorrow in the woods.
And so three days went by, and Mr. Carrollton, on his weary bed,
dreamed not that the slender form which sometimes, through his
half-closed door, cast a shadow in his room, was that of her for whom
he sought. The tripping footsteps, too, went often by, and a merry,
childish voice, which reminded him of Maggie, rang through the
spacious halls, until at last the sick man came to listen for that
party as they passed. They were a merry party, he thought, a very
merry party; and he pictured to himself her of the ringing voice; she
was dark-eyed, he said, with braids of shining hair, and when, as they
were passing once, he asked of his attendant if it were not as he had
fancied, he felt a pang of disappointment at the answer, which was,
"The girl the young gentleman hears so much has yellow curls and dark
"She is not like Maggie, then," he sighed, and when again he heard
that voice a part of its music was gone. Still, it cheered his
solitude, and he listened for it again, just as he had done before.
Once, when he knew they were going out, he went to the window to see
them, but the large straw hats and close carriage revealed no secret,
and disappointed he turned away.
"It is useless to stay here longer," he said; "I must be about my
work. I am able to leave, and I will go to-morrow. But first I will
visit the Falls once more. I may never see them again."
Accordingly, next morning, after Margaret and Rose had left the house,
he came down the stairs, sprang into an open carriage, and was driven
to Goat Island, which, until his illness, had been his favorite
* * * * *
Beneath the tall forest trees which grow upon the island there is
a rustic seat. Just on the brink of the river it stands, and the
carriage road winds by. It is a comparatively retired spot, looking
out upon the foaming water rushing so madly on. Here the weary often
rest; here lovers sometimes come to be alone; and here Maggie Miller
sat on that summer morning, living over again the past, which to her
had been so bright, and musing sadly on the future, which would bring
her she knew not what.
She had struggled to overcome her pride, nor deemed it now a disgrace
that she was not a Conway. Of Hagar, too, she often thought, pitying
the poor old half-crazed woman who for her sake had borne so much. But
not of her was she thinking now. Hagar was shriveled and bent and old,
while the image present in Margaret's mind was handsome, erect, and
young, like the gentleman riding by--the man whose carriage wheels,
grinding into the gravelly road, attracted no attention. Too intent
was she upon a shadow to heed aught else around, and she leaned
against a tree, nor turned her head aside, as Arthur Carrollton went
A little further on, and out of Maggie's sight, a fairy figure was
seated upon the grass; the hat was thrown aside, and her curls fell
back from her upturned face as she spoke to Henry Warner. But the
sentence was unfinished, for the carriage appeared in view, and
with woman's quick perception Rose exclaims, "'Tis surely Arthur
Starting to her feet, she sprang involuntarily forward to meet him,
casting a rapid glance around for Margaret. He observed the
movement, and knew that somewhere in the world he had seen that face
before--those golden curls--those deep blue eyes--that childish
form--they were not wholly unfamiliar. Who was she, and why did she
advance towards him?
"Rose," said Henry, who would call her back, "Rose!" and looking
towards the speaker Mr. Carrollton knew at once that Henry Warner and
his bride were standing there before him.
In a moment he had joined them, and though he knew that Henry Warner
had once loved Maggie Miller he spoke of her without reserve, saying
to Rose, when she asked if he were there for pleasure: "I am looking
for Maggie Miller. A strange discovery has been made of late, and
Margaret has left us."
"She is here--here with us!" cried Rose; and in the exuberance of
her joy she was darting away, when Henry held her back until further
explanations were made.
This did not occupy them long, for sitting down again upon the bank
Rose briefly told him all she knew; and when with eager joy he asked
"Where is she now?" she pointed towards the spot, and then with Henry
walked away, for she knew that it was not for her to witness that glad
The river rolls on with its heaving swell, and the white foam is
tossed towards the shore, while the soft summer air still bears on its
wing the sound of the cataract's roar. But Margaret sees it not, hears
it not. There is a spell upon her now--a halo of joy; and she only
knows that a strong arm is around her, and a voice is in her ear,
whispering that the bosom on which her weary head is pillowed shall be
her resting place forever.
It had come to her suddenly, sitting there thus--the footfall upon the
sand had not been heard--the shadow upon the grass had not been seen,
and his presence had not been felt, till, bending low, Mr. Carrollton
said aloud, "My Maggie!"
Then indeed she started up, and turned to see who it was that thus so
much like him had called her name. She saw who it was, and looking
in his face she knew she was not hated, and with a moaning cry went
forward to the arm extended to receive her.
* * * * *
Four guests, instead of one, went forth that afternoon from the
International--four guests homeward bound, and eager to be there. No
more journeying now for happiness; no more searching for the lost; for
both are found; both are there--happiness and Maggie Miller.
Impatient, restless, and cross, Madam Conway lay in Margaret's room,
scolding Theo and chiding Mrs. Jeffrey, both of whom, though trying
their utmost to suit her, managed unfortunately to do always just what
she wished them not to do. Mrs. Jeffrey's hands were usually too cold,
and Theo's were too hot. Mrs. Jeffrey made the head of the bed too
high, Theo altogether too low. In short, neither of them ever did what
Margaret would have done had she been there, and so day after day the
lady complained, growing more and more unamiable, until at last Theo
began to talk seriously of following Margaret's example, and running
away herself, at least as far as Worcester; but the distressed Mrs.
Jeffrey, terrified at the thought of being left there alone, begged of
her to stay a little longer, offering the comforting assurance
that "it cannot be so bad always, for Madam Conway will either get
So Theo stayed, enduring with a martyr's patience the caprices of
her grandmother, who kept the whole household in a constant state of
excitement, and who at last began to blame George Douglas entirely as
being the only one in fault. "He didn't half look," she said, "and
she doubted whether he knew enough to keep from losing himself in New
York. It was the most foolish thing Arthur Carrollton had ever done,
hiring George Douglas to search!"
"Hiring him, grandma!" cried Theo; "George offered his services for
nothing," and the tears came to her eyes at the injustice done her
But Madam Conway persisted in being unreasonable, and matters grew
gradually worse until the day when Margaret was found at the Falls. On
that morning Madam Conway determined upon riding. "Fresh air will
do me good," she said, "and you have kept me in a hot chamber long
Accordingly, the carriage was brought out, and Madam Conway carefully
lifted in; but ere fifty rods were passed the coachman was ordered to
drive back, as she could not endure the jolt. "I told you I couldn't,
all the time;" and her eyes turned reprovingly upon poor Theo, sitting
silently in the opposite corner.
"The Lord help me, if she isn't coming back so soon!" sighed Mrs.
Jeffrey, as she saw the carriage returning, and went to meet the
invalid, who had "taken her death of cold," just as she knew she
should when they insisted upon her going out.
That day was far worse than any which had preceded it. It was probably
her last, Madam Conway said, and numerous were the charges she gave
to Theo concerning Margaret, should she ever be found. The house, the
farm, the furniture and plate were all to be hers, while to Theo was
given the lady's wardrobe, saving such articles as Margaret might
choose for herself, and if she never were found the house and farm
were to be Mr. Carrollton's. This was too much for Theo, who resolved
to go home on the morrow, at all hazards, and she had commenced making
preparations for leaving, when to her great joy her husband came, and
in recounting to him her trials she forgot in a measure how unhappy
she had been. George Douglas was vastly amused at what he heard, and
resolved to experiment a little with the lady, who was so weak as to
notice him only with a slight nod when he first entered the room. He
saw at a glance that nothing in particular was the matter, and when
towards night she lay panting for breath, with her eyes half closed,
he approached her and said, "Madam, in case you die--"
"In case I die!" she whispered indignantly. "It doesn't admit of a
doubt. My feet are as cold as icicles now."
"Certainly," said he. "I beg your pardon; of course you'll die."
The lady turned away rather defiantly for a dying woman, and George
continued, "What I mean to say is this--if Margaret is never found,
you wish the house to be Mr. Carrollton's?"
"Yes, everything, my wardrobe and all," came from beneath the
bedclothes; and George proceeded: "Mr. Carrollton cannot of course
take the house to England, and, as he will need a trusty tenant, would
you object greatly if my father and mother should come here to live?
They'd like it, I--"
The sentence was unfinished--the bunches in the throat which for hours
had prevented the sick woman from speaking aloud, and were eventually
to choke her to death, disappeared; Madam Conway found her voice, and,
starting up, screamed out, "That abominable woman and heathenish girl
in this house, in my house; I'll live forever, first!" and her angry
eyes flashed forth their indignation.
"I thought the mention of mother would revive her," said George,
aside, to Theo, who, convulsed with laughter, had hidden herself
behind the window curtain.
Mr. Douglas was right, for not again that afternoon did Madam Conway
speak of dying, though she kept her bed until nightfall, when art
incident occurred which brought her at once to her feet, making her
forget that she had ever been otherwise than well.
In her cottage by the mine old Hagar had raved and sung and wept,
talking much of Margaret, but never telling whither she had gone.
Latterly, however, she had grown more calm, talking far less than
heretofore, and sleeping a great portion of the day, so that the
servant who attended her became neglectful, leaving her many hours
alone, while she, at the stone house, passed her time more agreeably
than at the lonesome hut. On the afternoon of which we write she was
as usual at the house, and though the sun went down she did not hasten
back, for her patient, she said, was sure to sleep, and even if she
woke she did not need much care.
Meantime old Hagar slumbered on. It was a deep, refreshing sleep, and
when at last she did awake, her reason was in a measure restored, and
she remembered everything distinctly up to the time of Margaret's last
visit, when she said she was going away. And Margaret had gone away,
she was sure of that, for she remembered Arthur Carrollton stood once
within that room, and besought of her to tell if she knew aught of
Maggie's destination. She did know, but she had not told, and perhaps
they had not found her yet. Raising herself in bed, she called aloud
to the servant, but there came no answer; and for an hour or more she
waited impatiently, growing each moment more and more excited. If
Margaret were found she wished to know it, and if she were not found
it was surely her duty to go at once and tell them where she was.
But could she walk? She stepped upon the floor and tried. Her limbs
trembled beneath her weight, and, sinking into a chair, she cried, "I
can't! I can't!"
Half an hour later she heard the sound of wheels. A neighboring farmer
was returning home from Richland, and had taken the cross road as
his shortest route. "Perhaps he will let me ride," she thought, and,
hobbling to the door, she called after him, making known her request.
Wondering what "new freak" had entered her mind, the man consented,
and just as it was growing dark he set her down at Madam Conway's
gate, where, half fearfully, the bewildered woman gazed around. The
windows of Margaret's room were open, a figure moved before them;
Margaret might be there; and entering the hall door unobserved, she
began to ascend the stairs, crawling upon her hands and knees, and
pausing several times to rest.
It was nearly dark in the sickroom, and as Mrs. Jeffrey had just gone
out, and Theo, in the parlor below, was enjoying a quiet talk with her
husband, Madam Conway was quite alone. For a time she lay thinking
of Margaret; then her thoughts turned upon George and his "amazing
proposition." "Such unheard of insolence!" she exclaimed, and she was
proceeding farther with her soliloquy, when a peculiar noise upon the
stairs caught her ear, and raising herself upon her elbow she listened
intently to the sound, which came nearer and nearer, and seemed like
someone creeping slowly, painfully, for she could hear at intervals a
long-drawn breath or groan, and with a vague feeling of uneasiness she
awaited anxiously the appearance of her visitor; nor waited long, for
the half-closed door swung slowly back, and through the gathering
darkness the shape came crawling on, over the threshold, into the
room, towards the corner, its limbs distorted and bent, its white hair
sweeping the floor. With a smothered cry Madam Conway hid beneath the
bedclothes, looking cautiously out at the singular object which came
creeping on until the bed was reached. It touched the counterpane, it
was struggling to regain its feet, and with a scream of horror the
terrified woman cried out, "Fiend, why are you here?" while a faint
voice replied, "I am looking for Margaret. I thought she was in bed";
and, rising up from her crouching posture, Hagar Warren stood face to
face with the woman she had so long deceived.
"Wretch!" exclaimed the latter, her pride returning as she recognized
old Hagar and thought of her as Maggie's grandmother. "Wretch, how
dare you come into my presence? Leave this room at once," and a shrill
cry of "Theo! Theo!" rang through the house, bringing Theo at once to
the chamber, where she started involuntarily at the sight which met
"Who is it? who is it?" she exclaimed.
"It's Hagar Warren. Take her away!" screamed Madam Conway; while
Hagar, raising her withered hand deprecatingly, said: "Hear me first.
Do you know where Margaret is? Has she been found?"
"No, no," answered Theo, bounding to her side, while Madam Conway
forgot to scream, and bent eagerly forward to listen, her symptoms
of dissolution disappearing one by one as the strange narrative
proceeded, and ere its close she was nearly dressed, standing erect as
ever, her face glowing, and her eyes lighted up with joy.
"Gone to Leominster! Henry Warner's half-sister!" she exclaimed. "Why
didn't she add a postscript to that letter, and tell us so? Though
the poor child couldn't think of everything;" and then, unmindful of
George Douglas, who at that moment entered the room, she continued:
"I should suppose Douglas might have found it out ere this. But the
moment I put my eyes upon _that woman_ I knew no child of hers would
ever know enough to find Margaret. The Warners are a tolerably good
family, I presume. I'll go after her at once. Theo, bring my broche
shawl, and wouldn't you wear my satin hood? 'Twill be warmer than my
"Grandma," said Theo, in utter astonishment, "What do you mean? You
surely are not going to Leominster to-night, as sick as you are?"
"Yes, I am going to Leominster to-night," answered the decided woman;
"and this gentleman," waving her hand majestically towards George,
"will oblige me much by seeing that the carriage is brought out."
Theo was about to remonstrate, when George whispered: "Let her go;
Henry and Rose are probably not at home, but Margaret may be there. At
all events, a little airing will do the old lady good;" and, rather
pleased than otherwise with the expedition, he went after John, who
pronounced his mistress "crazier than Hagar."
But it wasn't for him to dictate, and, grumbling at the prospect
before him, he harnessed his horses and drove them to the door, where
Madam Conway was already in waiting.