“I shall not forget you, Henry,” said Maggie, coming to his side and taking his hand in hers, “neither will you forget me; and when the year has passed away, only think how much pleasanter it will be for us to be married here at home, with grandma’s blessing on our union!”
“If I only knew you would prove true!” said Henry, who missed something in Maggie’s manner.
“I do mean to prove true,” she answered sadly, though at that moment another face, another form, stood between her and Henry Warner, who, knowing that Madam Conway would not suffer her to go with him on any terms, concluded at last to make a virtue of necessity, and accordingly expressed his willingness to wait, provided Margaret were allowed to write occasionally either to himself or Rose.
But to this Madam Conway would not consent. She wished the test to be perfect, she said, and unless he accepted her terms he must give Maggie up, at once and forever.
As there seemed no alternative, Henry rather ungraciously yielded the point, promising to leave Maggie free for a year, while she too promised not to write either to him or to Rose, except with her grandmother’s consent. Maggie Miller’s word once passed, Madam Conway knew it would not be broken, and she unhesitatingly left the young people together while they said their parting words. A message of love from Maggie to Rose—a hundred protestations of eternal fidelity, and then they parted; Henry, sad and disappointed, slowly wending his way back to the spot where Hagar impatiently awaited his coming, while Maggie, leaning from her chamber window, and listening to the sound of his retreating footsteps, brushed away a tear, wondering the while why it was that she felt so relieved.
Half in sorrow, half in joy, old Hagar listened to the story which Henry told her, standing at her cottage door. In sorrow because she had learned to like the young man, learned to think of him as Maggie’s husband, who would not wholly cast her oil, if her secret should chance to be divulged; and in joy because her idol would be with her yet a little longer.
“Maggie will be faithful quite as long as you,” she said, when he expressed his fears of her forgetfulness; and, trying to console himself with this assurance, he sprang into the carriage in which he had come, and was driven rapidly away.
He was too late for the night express, but taking the early morning train he reached New York just as the sun was setting.
“Alone! my brother, alone?” queried Rose, as he entered the private parlor of the hotel where she was staying with her aunt.
“Yes, alone; just as I expected,” he answered somewhat bitterly.
Then very briefly he related to her the particulars of his adventure, to which she listened eagerly, one moment chiding herself for the faint, shadowy hope which whispered that possibly Maggie Miller would never be his wife, and again sympathizing in his disappointment.