Theo’s riding dress was borrowed, and though it did not fit her exactly she looked unusually well when she met Mr. Carrollton in the lower hall, and once mounted upon the gay steed, and galloping away into the country, she felt more than repaid for the loss of her morning slumber.
“You ride well,” said Mr. Carrollton, when at last they paused upon the brow of a hill overlooking the town, “but you have some faults which, with your permission, I will correct,” and in the most polite and gentlemanly manner he proceeded to speak of a few points wherein her riding might be improved.
Among other things, he said she rode too fast for a lady; and, biting her lip, Maggie thought, “If I only had Gritty here, I’d lead him such a race as would either break his bones or his neck, I’m not particular which.”
Still, she followed his directions implicitly, and when, ere they reached home, he told her that she excelled many who had been for years to riding schools, she felt repaid for his criticisms, which she knew were just, even if they were not agreeable. Breakfast being over, he announced his intention of going down to Boston, telling Maggie he should probably return that evening and go with her to Hillsdale on the morrow.
Scarcely had he gone when Henry Warner appeared, asking an interview with Madam Conway, who haughtily led the way into a private room. Very candidly and honorably Henry made known to her his wishes, whereupon a most stormy scene ensued, the lady so far forgetting herself as to raise her voice several notes above its usual pitch, while Henry, angered by her insulting words, bade her take the consequences of her refusal, hinting that girls had been known to marry without their guardian’s consent.
“An elopement, hey? He threatens me with an elopement, does he?” said Madam Conway, as the door closed after him. “I am glad he warned me in time,” and then, trembling in every limb lest Maggie should be spirited away before her very eyes, she determined upon going home immediately and leaving Arthur Carrollton to follow in the cars.
Accordingly, Maggie was bidden to pack her things at once, the excited old lady keeping her eye constantly upon her to see that she did not disappear through the window or some other improbable place. In silence Maggie obeyed, pouting the while a very little, partly because she should not again see Henry, partly because she had confidently expected to ride home with Mr. Carrollton, and partly because she wished to stay to the firemen’s muster, which had long been talked about, and was to take place on the morrow. They were ready at last, and then in a very perturbed state of feeling Madam Conway waited for her carriage, which was not forthcoming, and upon inquiry George Douglas learned that, having counted upon another day in the city, Mike was now going through with a series of plunge-baths, by way of sobering himself ere appearing before his mistress. This, however, George kept from Madam Conway, not wishing to alarm her; and when after a time Mike appeared, sitting bolt upright upon the box, with the lines grasped firmly in his hands, she did not suspect the truth, nor know that he too was angry for being thus compelled to go home before he saw the firemen.