“I can’t go,” said Maggie; “it would not be right.” And going to the time-worn desk, where, since her secret correspondence, she had kept materials for writing, she wrote to Henry a letter telling him she felt badly to disappoint him, but she deemed it much wiser to defer their marriage until her grandmother felt differently, or at least until she was at an age to act for herself. This being done, she went slowly back to the house, which to her seemed desolate indeed. Her grandmother saw readily that something was the matter, and, rightly guessing the cause, she forebore questioning her, neither did she once that day mention Mr. Carrollton, although Anna Jeffrey did, telling her what he had said about her thinking more of Hagar than of himself, and giving as her opinion that he was much displeased with Maggie for her rudeness in running away.
“Nobody cares for his displeasure,” answered Maggie, greatly vexed at Anna, who took especial delight in annoying her.
Thus a week went by, when one evening, as Madam Conway and Maggie sat together in the parlor, they were surprised by the sudden appearance of Henry Warner. He had accompanied his aunt and sister to New York, where they were to remain for a few days, and then impelled by a strong desire to see Margaret once more he had come with the vain hope that at the last hour she would consent to fly with him, or her grandmother consent to give her up. All the afternoon he had been at Hagar’s cottage waiting for Maggie, and at length determining to see her he had ventured to the house. With a scowling frown Madam Conway looked at him through her glasses, while Maggie, half joyfully, half fearfully, went forward to meet him. In a few words he explained why he was there, and then again asked of Madam Conway if Margaret could go.
“I do not believe she cares to go,” thought Madam Conway, as she glanced at Maggie’s face; but she did not say so, lest she should awaken within the young girl a feeling of opposition.
She had watched Maggie closely, and felt sure that her affection for Henry Warner was neither deep nor lasting. Arthur Carrollton’s presence had done much towards weakening it, and a few months more would suffice to wear it away entirely. Still, from what had passed, she fancied that opposition alone would only make the matter worse by rousing Maggie at once. She knew far more of human nature than either of the young people before her; and after a little reflection she suggested that Henry should leave Maggie with her for a year, during which time no communication whatever should pass between them, while she would promise faithfully not to influence Margaret either way.
“If at the end of the year,” said she, “you both retain for each other the feelings you have now, I will no longer object to the marriage, but will make the best of it.”
At first Henry spurned the proposition, and when he saw that Margaret thought well of it he reproached her with a want of feeling, saying she did not love him as she had once done.