Accordingly, when at four o’clock A.M. Maggie, who was partially awake, heard in the distance the shrill scream of the engine, as the night express thundered through the town, she little dreamed of the boxes, bundles, trunks, and bags which lined the platform of Hillsdale station, nor yet of the resolute woman in brown who persevered until a rude one-horse wagon was found in which to transport herself and her baggage to the old stone house. The driver of the vehicle, in which, under ordinary circumstances, Madam Conway would have scorned to ride, was a long, lean, half-witted fellow, utterly unfitted for his business. Still, he managed quite well until they turned into the grassy by-road, and Madam Conway saw through the darkness the light which Maggie had inadvertently left within the dining room!
There was no longer a shadow of uncertainty. “Margaret was dead!” and the lank Tim was ordered to drive faster, or the excited woman, perched on one of her traveling-trunks, would be obliged to foot it! A few vigorous strokes of the whip set the sorrel horse into a canter, and as the night was dark, and the road wound round among the trees, it is not at all surprising that Madam Conway, with her eye still on the beacon light, found herself seated rather unceremoniously in the midst of a brush heap, her goods and chattels rolling promiscuously around her, while lying across a log, her right hand clutching at the bird-cage, and her left grasping the shaggy hide of Lottie, who yelled most furiously, was Anna Jeffrey, half blinded with mud, and bitterly denouncing American drivers and Yankee roads! To gather themselves together was not an easy matter, but the ten pieces were at last all told, and then, holding up her skirts, bedraggled with dew, Madam Conway resumed her seat in the wagon, which was this time driven in safety to her door. Giving orders for her numerous boxes to be safely bestowed, she hastened forward and soon stood upon the threshold.
“Great Heaven!” she exclaimed, starting backward so suddenly that she trod upon the foot of Lottie, who again sent forth an outcry, which Anna Jeffrey managed to choke down. “Is this bedlam, or what?” And stepping out upon the piazza, she looked to see if the blundering driver had made a mistake. But no; it was the same old gray stone house she had left some months before; and again pressing boldly forward, she took the lamp from the sideboard and commenced to reconnoiter. “My mother’s wedding dress, as I live! and her scarlet broadcloth, too!” she cried, holding to view the garments which Henry Warner had thrown upon the arm of the long settee. A turban or cushion, which she recognized as belonging to her grandmother, next caught her view, together with the smallclothes of her sire.
“The entire contents of the oaken chest,” she continued, in a tone far from calm and cool. “What can have happened! It’s some of that crazy Hagar’s work, I know. I’ll have her put in the—” But whatever the evil was which threatened Hagar Warren it was not defined by words, for at that moment the indignant lady caught sight of an empty bottle, which she instantly recognized as having held her very oldest, choicest wine. “The Lord help me!” she cried, “I’ve been robbed;” and grasping the bottle by the neck, she leaned up against the banner which she had not yet descried.