“I am,” answered Maggie, playing nervously with the tassel of her wrapper, and wondering why Henry had written so soon, before she had prepared the way by a little judicious coaxing.
“Well, then,” continued Madam Conway, “the sooner it is broken the better. I am astonished that you should stoop to such an act, and I hope you are not in earnest.”
“But I am,” answered Maggie; and in the same cold, decided manner her grandmother continued: “Then nothing remains for me but to forbid your having any communication whatever with one whose conduct in my house has been so unpardonably rude and vulgar. You will never marry him, Margaret, never! Nay, I would sooner see you dead than the wife of that low, mean, impertinent fellow!”
In the large dark eyes there was a gleam decidedly “Hagarish” as Maggie arose, and, standing before her grandmother, made answer: “You must not, in my presence, speak thus of Henry Warner. He is neither low, mean, vulgar, nor impertinent. You are prejudiced against him because you think him comparatively poor, and because he has dared to look at me, who have yet to understand why the fact of my being a Conway makes me any better. I have promised to be Henry Warner’s wife, and Margaret Miller never yet has broken her word.”
“But in this instance you will,” said Madam Conway, now thoroughly aroused. “I will never suffer it; and to prove I am in earnest I will here, before your face, burn the letter he has presumed to send you; and this I will do to any others which may come to you from him.”
Maggie offered no remonstrance; but the fire of a volcano burned within, as she watched the letter blackening upon the coals; and when next her eyes met those of her grandmother there was in them a fierce, determined look which prompted that lady at once to change her tactics and try the power of persuasion rather than of force. Feigning a smile, she said: “What ails you, child? You look to me like Hagar. It was wrong in me, perhaps, to burn your letter, and had I reflected a moment I might not have done it; but I cannot suffer you to receive any more. I have other prospects in view for you, and have only waited a favorable opportunity to tell you what they are. Sit down by me, Margaret, while I talk with you on the subject.”
The burning of her letter had affected Margaret strangely, and with a benumbed feeling at her heart she sat down without a word and listened patiently to praises long and praises loud of Arthur Carrollton, who was described as being every way desirable, both as a friend and a husband. “His father, the elder Mr. Carrollton, was an intimate friend of my husband,” said Madam Conway, “and wishes our families to be more closely united, by a marriage between you and his son Arthur, who is rather fastidious in his taste, and though twenty-eight years old has never yet seen a face which suited him. But he is pleased with you, Maggie. He liked your picture, imperfect