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 Hagar Warren!”
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 to-night?”
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?”