“They say ’tis a mighty bad wind which blows no one any good, and so, though I verily believe I suffer all a man can suffer with a broken bone, yet when I look at the fair face of Maggie Miller I feel that I would not exchange this high old bed, to enter which needs a short ladder, even for a seat by you on that three-legged stool behind the old writing-desk. I never saw anything like her in my life. Everything she thinks, she says, and as to flattering her, it can’t be done. I’ve told her a dozen times at least that she was beautiful, and she didn’t mind it any more than Rose does when I flatter her. Still, I fancy if I were to talk to her of love it might make a difference, and perhaps I shall ere I leave the place.
“You know, George, I have always insisted there was but one female in the world fit to be a wife, and as that one was my sister I should probably never have the pleasure of paying any bills for Mrs. Henry Warner; but I’ve half changed my mind, and I’m terribly afraid this Maggie Miller, not content with breaking my bones, has made sad work with another portion of the body, called by physiologists the heart. I don’t know how a man feels when he is in love; but when this Maggie Miller looks me straight in the face with her sunshiny eyes, while her little soft white hand pushes back my hair (which, by the way, I slyly disarrange on purpose), I feel the blood tingle to the ends of my toes, and still I dare not hint such a thing to her. ’Twould frighten her off in a moment, and she’ll send in her place either an old hag of a woman called Hagar, or her proud sister Theo, whom I cannot endure.
“By the way, George, this Theo will just suit you, who are fond of aristocracy. She’s proud as Lucifer; thinks because she was born in England, and sprang from a high family, that there is no one in America worthy of her ladyship’s notice, unless indeed they chance to have money. You ought to have seen how her eyes lighted up when I told her you were said to be worth two hundred thousand dollars! She told me directly to invite you out here, and this, I assure you, was a good deal for her to do. So don your best attire, not forgetting the diamond cross, and come for a day or two. Old Safford will attend to the store. It’s what he was made for, and he likes it. But as I am a Warner, so shall I do my duty and warn you not to meddle with Maggie. She is my own exclusive property, and altogether too good for a worldly fellow like you. Theo will suit you better. She’s just aristocratic enough in her nature. I don’t see how the two girls come to be so wholly unlike as they are. Why, I’d sooner take Maggie for Rose’s sister than for Theo’s!