They had not intended to be married so soon, for Margaret would wait a little longer; but an unexpected and urgent summons home made it necessary for Mr. Carrollton to go, and so by chance the bridal day was fixed for the 18th. None save the family were present, and Madam Conway’s tears fell fast as the words were spoken which made them one, for by those words she knew that she and Margaret must part. But not forever; for when the next year’s autumn leaves shall fall the old house by the mill will again be without a mistress, while in a handsome country-seat beyond the sea Madam Conway will demean herself right proudly, as becometh the grandmother of Mrs. Arthur Carrollton. Theo, too, and Rose will both be there, for their husbands have so promised, and when the Christmas fires are kindled on the hearth and the ancient pictures on the wall take a richer tinge from the ruddy light, there will be a happy group assembled within the Carrollton halls; and Margaret, the happiest of them all, will then almost forget that ever in the Hillsdale woods, sitting at Hagar’s feet, she listened with a breaking heart to the story of her birth.
But not the thoughts of a joyous future could dissipate entirely the sadness of that bridal, for Margaret was well beloved, and the billows which would roll ere long between her and her childhood’s home stretched many, many miles away. Still they tried to be cheerful, and Henry Warner’s merry jokes had called forth more than one gay laugh, when the peal of bells and the roll of drums arrested their attention; while the servants, who had learned the cause of the rejoicing, struck up “God Save the Queen,” and from an adjoining field a rival choir sent back the stirring note of “Hail, Columbia, Happy Land.” Mrs. Jeffrey, too, was busy. In secret she had labored at the rent made by her foot in the flag of bygone days, and now, perspiring at every pore, she dragged it up the tower stairs, planting it herself upon the housetop, where side by side with the royal banner it waved in the summer breeze. And this she did, not because she cared aught for the cable, in which she “didn’t believe” and declared “would never work,” but because she would celebrate Margaret’s wedding-day, and so make some amends for her interference when once before the “Stars and Stripes” had floated above the old stone house.
And thus it was, amid smiles and tears, amid bells and drums, and waving flags and merry song, amid noisy shout and booming guns, that double bridal day was kept; and when the sun went down it left a glory on the western clouds, as if they, too, had donned their best attire in honor of the union.
* * * * *
It is moonlight on the land—glorious, beautiful moonlight. On Hagar’s peaceful grave it falls, and glancing from the polished stone shines across the fields upon the old stone house, where all is cheerless now, and still. No life—no sound—no bounding step—no gleeful song. All is silent, all is sad. The light of the household has departed; it went with the hour when first to each other the lonesome servants said, “Margaret is gone.”