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 his arms.