Carefully, tenderly, as if she had been a wounded dove, did the whole household demean themselves towards Margaret, seeing that everything needful was done, but mentioning never in her presence the name of the dead. And Margaret’s position was a trying one, for though Hagar had been her grandmother she had never regarded her as such, and she could not now affect a grief she did not feel. Still, from her earliest childhood she had loved the strange old woman, and she mourned for her now, as friend mourneth for friend, when there is no tie of blood between them.
Her promise, too, was kept, and with her own hands she smoothed the snow-white hair, tied on the muslin cap, folded the stiffened arms, and then, unmindful who was looking on, kissed twice the placid face, which seemed to smile on her in death.
* * * * *
By the side of Hester Hamilton they made another grave, and, with Arthur Carrollton and Rose standing at either side, Margaret looked on while the weary and worn was laid to rest; then slowly retraced her steps, walking now with Madam Conway, for Arthur Carrollton and Rose had lingered at the grave, talking together of a plan which had presented itself to the minds of both as they stood by the humble stone which told where Margaret’s mother slept. To Margaret, however, they said not a word, nor yet to Madam Conway, though they both united in urging the two ladies to accompany Theo to Worcester for a few days.
“Mrs. Warner will help me keep house,” Mr. Carrollton said, advancing the while so many good reasons why Margaret at least should go, that she finally consented, and went down to Worcester, together with Madam Conway, George Douglas, Theo, and Henry, the latter of whom seemed quite as forlorn as did she herself, for Rose was left behind, and without her he was nothing.
Madam Conway had been very gracious to him; his family were good, and when as they passed the Charlton depot thoughts of the leghorn bonnet and blue umbrella intruded themselves upon her, she half wished that Henry had broken his leg in Theo’s behalf, and so saved her from bearing the name of Douglas.
The week went by, passing rapidly as all weeks will, and Margaret was again at home. Rose was there still, and just as the sun was setting she took her sister’s hand, and led her out into the open air toward the resting-place of the dead, where a change had been wrought; and Margaret, leaning over the iron gate, comprehended at once the feeling which had prompted Mr. Carrollton and Rose to desire her absence for a time. The humble stone was gone, and in its place there stood a handsome monument, less imposing and less expensive than that of Mrs. Miller, it is true, but still chaste and elegant, bearing upon it simply the names of “Hester Hamilton, and her mother Hagar Warren,” with the years of their death. The little grave, too, where for many years Maggie herself had been supposed to sleep, was not beneath the pine tree now; that mound was leveled down, and another had been made, just where the grass was growing rank and green beneath the shadow of the taller stone, and there side by side they lay at last together, the mother and her infant child.