Fortunately for Madam Conway, the cars moved on, and when they stopped again, to her great relief, the owner of the blue umbrella, together with “Sam Babbit’s wife,” alighted, and amid the crowd assembled on the platform she recognized Betsy Jane, who had come down to meet her mother. The remainder of the way seemed tedious enough, for the train moved but slowly, and it was near ten o’clock ere they reached the Hillsdale station, where, to her great delight, Madam Conway found Margaret awaiting her, together with Arthur Carrollton. The moment she saw the former, who came eagerly forward to meet her, the weary, worn-out woman burst into tears; but at the sight of Mr. Carrollton she forced them back, saying, in reply to Maggie’s inquiries, that Theo was not at home, and that she had spent a dreadful day, and been knocked down in a fight at the depot, in proof of which she pointed to her torn dress, her crumpled bonnet, and scratched face. Maggie laughed aloud in spite of herself, and though Mr. Carrollton’s eyes were several times turned reprovingly upon her she continued to laugh at intervals at the sorry, forlorn appearance presented by her grandmother, who for several days was confined to her bed from the combined effects of fasting, fright, firemen’s muster, and her late encounter with Mrs. Douglas, senior!
Arthur Carrollton and Maggie.
Mr. Carrollton had returned from Boston on Thursday afternoon, and, finding them all gone from the hotel, had come on to Hillsdale on the evening train, surprising Maggie as she sat in the parlor alone, wishing herself in Worcester, or in some place where it was not as lonely as there. With his presence the loneliness disappeared, and in making his tea and listening to his agreeable conversation she forgot everything, until, observing that she looked weary, he said: “Maggie, I would willingly talk to you all night, were it not for the bad effect it would have on you to-morrow. You must go to bed now,” and he showed her his watch, which pointed to the hour of midnight.
Exceedingly mortified, Maggie was leaving the room, when, noticing her evident chagrin, Mr. Carrollton came to her side, and laying his hand very respectfully on hers, said kindly: “It is my fault, Maggie, keeping you up so late, and I only send you away now because those eyes are growing heavy, and I know that you need rest. Good-night to you, and pleasant dreams.”
He went with her to the door, watching her until she disappeared up the stairs; then, half wishing he had not sent her from him, he too sought his chamber; but not to sleep, for Maggie, though absent, was with him still in fancy. For more than a year he had been haunted by a bright, sunshiny face, whose owner embodied the dashing, independent spirit and softer qualities which made Maggie Miller so attractive. Of this face he had often thought, wondering if the