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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 239 pages of information about Maggie Miller.

CHAPTER XVII.

Brother and sister.

Brightly shone the moonlight on the sunny isle of Cuba, dancing lightly on the wave, resting softly on the orange groves, and stealing gently through the casement, into the room where a young girl lay, whiter far than the flowers strewn upon her pillow.  From the commencement of the voyage Rose had drooped, growing weaker every day, until at last all who looked upon her felt that the home of which she talked so much would never again be gladdened by her presence.  Very tenderly Henry Warner nursed her, bearing her often in his arms up on the vessel’s deck, where she could breathe the fresh morning air as it came rippling o’er the sea.  But neither the ocean breeze, nor yet the fragrant breath of Florida’s aromatic bowers, where for a time they stopped, had power to rouse her; and when at last Havana was reached she laid her weary head upon her pillow, whispering to no one of the love which was wearing her life away.  With untold anguish at their hearts, both her aunt and Henry watched her, the latter shrinking ever from the thought of losing one who seemed a part of his very life.

“I cannot give you up, my Rose.  I cannot live without you,” he said, when once she talked to him of death.  “You are all the world to me;” and, laying his head upon her pillow, he wept as men will sometimes weep over their one great sorrow.

“Don’t, Henry,” she said, laying her tiny hand upon his hair.  “Maggie will comfort you when I am gone.  She will talk to you of me, standing at my grave, for, Henry, you must not leave me here alone.  You must carry me home and bury me in dear old Leominster, where my childhood was passed, and where I learned to love you so much—­oh, so much!”

There was a mournful pathos in the tone with which the last words were uttered, but Henry Warner did not understand it, and covering the little blue-veined hand with kisses he promised that her grave should be made at the foot of the garden in their far-off home, where the sunlight fell softly and the moonbeams gently shone.  That evening Henry sat alone by Rose, who had fallen into a disturbed slumber.  For a time he took no notice of the disconnected words she uttered in her dreams, but when at last he heard the sound of his own name he drew near, and, bending low, listened with mingled emotions of joy, sorrow, and surprise to a secret which, waking, she would never have told him, above all others.  She loved him,—­the fair girl he called his sister,—­but not as a sister loves; and now, as he stood by her, with the knowledge thrilling every nerve, he remembered many bygone scenes, when but for his blindness he would have seen how every pulsation of her heart throbbed alone for him whose hand was plighted to another, and that other no unworthy rival.  Beautiful, very beautiful, was the shadowy form which at that moment seemed standing at his side, and his heart went out towards her as the one above all others to be his bride.

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