Strange as it may seem, this freak struck Madam Conway favorably. Arthur Carrollton knew that Maggie was unlike any other person, and the joke, she thought, would increase, rather than diminish, the interest he already felt in her. So she made no objection, and in a few days it was on its way to England, together with a lock of Hagar’s snow-white hair, which Maggie had coaxed from the old lady, and, unknown to her grandmother, placed in the casing at the last moment.
Several weeks passed away, and then there came an answer—a letter so full of wit and humor that Maggie confessed to herself that he must be very clever to write so many shrewd things and to be withal so perfectly refined. Accompanying the package was a small rosewood box, containing a most exquisite little pin made of Hagar’s frosty hair, and richly ornamented with gold. Not a word was written concerning it, and as Maggie kept her own counsel, both Theo and her grandmother marveled greatly, admiring its beauty and wondering for whom it was intended.
“For me, of course,” said Madam Conway. “The hair is Lady Carrollton’s, Arthur’s grandmother. I know it by its soft, silky look. She has sent it as a token of respect, for she was always fond of me;” and going to the glass she very complacently ornamented her Honiton collar with Hagar’s hair, while Maggie, bursting with fun, beat a hasty retreat from the room, lest she should betray herself.
Thus the winter passed away, and early in the spring George Douglas, to whom Madam Conway had long ago sent a favorable answer, came to visit his betrothed, bringing to Maggie a note from Rose, who had once or twice sent messages in Henry’s letters. She was in Worcester now, and her health was very delicate. “Sometimes,” she wrote, “I fear I shall never see you, Maggie Miller—shall never look into your beautiful face, or listen to your voice; but whether in heaven or on earth I am first to meet with you, my heart claims you as a sister, the one whom of all the sisters in the world I would rather call my own.”
“Darling Rose!” murmured Maggie, pressing the delicately traced lines to her lips, “how near she seems to me! nearer almost than Theo;” and then involuntarily her thoughts went backward to the night when Henry Warner first told her of his love, and when in her dreams there had been a strange blending together of herself, of Rose, and the little grave beneath the pine!
But not yet was that veil of mystery to be lifted. Hagar’s secret must be kept a little longer; and, unsuspicious of the truth, Maggie Miller must dream on of sweet Rose Warner, whom she hopes one day to call her sister!
There was also a message from Henry, and this George Douglas delivered in secret, for he did not care to displease his grandmother-elect, who viewing him through a golden setting, thought he was not to be equaled by anyone in America. “So gentlemanly,” she said, “and so modest too,” basing her last conclusion upon his evident unwillingness to say very much of himself or his family. Concerning the latter she had questioned him in vain, eliciting nothing save the fact that they lived in the country several miles from Worcester, and that his father always stayed at home, and consequently his mother went but little into society.