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 birth.
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 Maggie Miller.
“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.