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 resort.
* * * * *
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 by!
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 Carrollton!”
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 meeting.