Very closely Madam Conway watched her now; but Maggie did not heed it, and leaning on Henry’s arm she seemed oblivious to all save him. After a time he led her out upon a side piazza, where they would be comparatively alone. Observing that she seemed a little chilly, he left her for a moment while he went in quest of her shawl. Scarcely was he gone when a slight, fairy form came flitting through the moonlight to where Maggie sat, and, twining its snow-white arms around her neck, looked lovingly into her eyes, whispering soft and low, “My sister!”
“My sister!” How Maggie’s blood bounded at the sound of that name, which even the night wind, sighing through the trees, seemed to take up and repeat. “My sister!” What was there in those words thus to affect her? Was that fair young creature, who hung so fondly over her, naught to her save a common stranger? Was there no tie between them, no bond of sympathy and love? We ask this of you, our reader, and not of Maggie Miller, for to her there came no questioning like this. She only knew that every pulsation of her heart responded to the name of sister, when breathed by sweet Rose Warner, and, folding her arms about her, she pillowed the golden head upon her bosom, and, pushing back the clustering curls, gazed long and earnestly into a face which seemed so heavenly and pure.
Few were the words they uttered at first, for a mysterious, invisible something prompted each to look into the other’s eyes, to clasp the other’s hands, to kiss the other’s lips, and lovingly to whisper the other’s name.
“I have wished so much to see you, to know if you are worthy of my noble brother,” said Rose at last, thinking she must say something on the subject uppermost in both their minds.
“And am I worthy?” asked Maggie, the bright blushes stealing over her cheek. “Will you let me be your sister?”
“My heart would claim you for that, even though I had no brother,” answered Rose, and again her lips touched those of Maggie.
Seeing them thus together, Henry tarried purposely a long time, and when at last he rejoined them he proposed returning to the drawing room, where many inquiries were making for Maggie.
“I have looked for you a long time, Miss Maggie,” said Mr. Carrollton. “I wish to hear you play;” and, taking her arm in his, he led her to the piano.
From the moment of her first introduction to him Maggie had felt that there was something commanding in his manner, something she could not disobey; and now, though she fancied it was impossible to play before that multitude, she seated herself mechanically, and while the keys swam before her eyes, went through with a difficult piece which she had never but once before executed correctly.
“You have done well; much better than I anticipated,” said Mr. Carrollton, again offering her his arm; and though a little vexed, those few words of commendation were worth more to Maggie than the most flattering speech which Henry Warner had ever made to her.