But Henry Warner was not trifling with her. He was only waiting a favorable opportunity for telling her the story of his love; and now, as they sit together in the moonlight, with the musical flow of the mill-stream falling on his ear, he essays to speak—to tell how she has grown into his heart; to ask her to go with him where he goes; to make his home her home, and so be with him always; but ere the first word was uttered Maggie asked if Mr. Douglas had brought the picture of his sister.
“Why, yes,” he answered; “I had forgotten it entirely. Here it is;” and taking it from his pocket he passed it to her.
It was a face of almost ethereal loveliness that through the moonlight looked up to Maggie Miller, and again she experienced the same undefinable emotion, a mysterious, invisible something drawing her towards the original of the beautiful likeness.
“It is strange how thoughts of Rose always affect me,” she said, gazing earnestly upon the large eyes of blue shadowed forth upon the picture. “It seems as though she must be nearer to me than an unknown friend.”
“Seems she like a sister?” asked Henry Warner, coming so near that Maggie felt his warm breath upon her cheek.
“Yes, yes, that’s it,” she answered, with something of her olden frankness. “And had I somewhere in the world an unknown sister I should say it was Rose Warner!”
There were a few low, whispered words, and when the full moon, which for a time had hidden itself behind the clouds, again shone forth in all its glory, Henry had asked Maggie Miller to be the sister of Rose Warner, and Maggie had answered “Yes”!
That night in Maggie’s dreams there was a strange commingling of thoughts. Thoughts of Henry Warner, as he told her of his love—thoughts of the gentle girl whose eyes of blue had looked so lovingly up to her, as if between them there was indeed a common bond of sympathy—and, stranger far than all, thoughts of the little grave beneath the pine where slept the so-called child of Hester Hamilton—the child defrauded of its birthright, and who, in the misty vagaries of dreamland, seemed to stand between her and the beautiful Rose Warner!
Stars and stripes.
On the rude bench by her cabin door sat Hagar Warren, her black eyes peering out into the woods and her quick ear turned to catch the first sound of bounding footsteps, which came at last, and Maggie Miller was sitting by her side.
“What is it, darling?” Hagar asked, and her shriveled hand smoothed caressingly the silken hair, as she looked into the glowing face of the young girl, and half guessed what was written there.
To Theo Maggie had whispered the words, “I am engaged,” and Theo had coldly answered: “Pshaw! Grandma will quickly break that up. Why, Henry Warner is comparatively poor! Mr. Douglas told me so, or rather I quizzed him until I found it out. He says, though, that Henry has rare business talents, and he could not do without him.”