No more hysterics now; no more lonesome nights; no more thoughts of death—for Margaret was coming home—the best loved of them all. Joyfully the servants told to each other the glad news, disbelieving entirely the report fast gaining circulation that the queenly Maggie was lowly born—a grandchild of old Hagar. Up and down the stairs Madam Conway ran, flitting from room to room, and tarrying longest in that of Margaret, where the sunlight came in softly through the half-closed blinds and the fair summer blossoms smiled a welcome for the expected one.
Suddenly the noontide stillness was broken by a sound, deafening and shrill on ordinary occasions, but falling now like music on Madam Conway’s ear, for by that sound she knew that Margaret was near. Wearily went the half-hour by, and then, from the head of the tower stairs, Theo cried out, “She is coming!” while the grandmother buried her face in the pillows of the lounge, and asked to be alone when she took back to her bosom the child which was not hers.
Earnestly, as if to read the inmost soul, each looked into the other’s eyes—Margaret and Theo—and while the voice of the latter was choked with tears she wound her arms around the graceful neck, which bent to the caress, and whispered low, “You are my sister still.”
Against the vine-wreathed balustrade a fairy form was leaning, holding back her breath lest she should break the deep silence of that meeting. In her bosom there was no pang of fear lest Theo should be loved the best; and, even had there been, it could not surely have remained, for stretching out her arm Margaret drew Rose to her side, and placing her hand in that of Theo said, “You are both my sisters now,” while Arthur Carrollton, bending down, kissed the lips of the three, saying as he did so, “Thus do I acknowledge your relationship to me.”
“Why don’t she come?” the waiting Madam Conway sighed, just as Theo, pointing to the open door, bade Margaret go in.
There was a blur before the lady’s eyes—a buzzing in her ears—and the footfall she had listened for so long was now unheard as it came slowly to her side. But the light touch upon her arm—the well-remembered voice within her ear, calling her “Madam Conway,” sent through her an electric thrill, and starting up she caught the wanderer in her arms, crying imploringly, “Not that name, Maggie darling; call me grandma, as you used to do—call me grandma still,” and smoothing back the long black tresses, she looked to see if grief had left its impress upon her fair young face. It was paler now, and thinner too, than it was wont to be, and while her tears fell fast upon it, Madam Conway whispered: “You have suffered much, my child, and so have I. Why did you go away? Say, Margaret, why did you leave me all alone?”