“A year will not be very long,” she said, “and in the new scenes to which you are going it will pass rapidly away;” and then, in her childlike, guileless manner, she drew a glowing picture of the future, when, her own health restored, they would return to their old home in Leominster, where, after a few months more, he would bring to them his bride.
“You are my comforting angel, Rose,” he said, folding her lovingly in his arms and kissing her smooth white cheek. “With such a treasure as you for a sister, I ought not to repine, even though Maggie Miller should never be mine.”
The words were lightly spoken, and by him soon forgotten, but Rose remembered them long, dwelling upon them in the wearisome nights, when in her narrow berth she listened to the swelling sea as it dashed against the vessel’s side. Many a fond remembrance, too, she gave to Maggie Miller, who, in her woodland home, thought often of the travelers on the sea, never wishing that she was with them; but experiencing always a feeling of pleasure in knowing that she was Maggie Miller yet, and should be until next year’s autumn leaves were falling.
Of Arthur Carrollton she thought frequently, wishing she had not been so rude that morning in the woods, and feeling vexed because in his letters to her grandmother he merely said, “Remember me to Margaret.”
“I wish he would write something besides that,” she thought, “for I remember him now altogether too much for my own good;” and then she wondered what he would have said that morning, if she had not been so cross.
Very little was said to her of him by Madam Conway, who, having learned that he was not going to England, and would ere long return to them, concluded for a time to let the matter rest, particularly as she knew how much Maggie was already interested in one whom she had resolved to hate. Feeling thus confident that all would yet end well, Madam Conway was in unusually good spirits save when thoughts of Mrs. Douglas, senior, obtruded themselves upon her. Then, indeed, in a most unenviable state of mind, she repined at the disgrace which Theo had brought upon them, and charged Maggie repeatedly to keep it a secret from Mrs. Jeffrey and Anna, the first of whom made many inquiries concerning the family, which she supposed of course was very aristocratic.
One day towards the last of November there came to Madam Conway a letter from Mrs. Douglas, senior, wonderful alike in composition and appearance. Directed wrong side up, sealed with a wafer, and stamped with a thimble, it bore an unmistakable resemblance to its writer, who expressed many regrets that she had not known “in the time on’t” who her illustrious visitors were.
“If I had known [she wrote] I should have sot the table in the parlor certing, for though I’m plain and homespun I know as well as the next one what good manners is, and do my endeavors to practice it. But do tell a body [she continued] where you was muster day in Wooster. I knocked and pounded enough to raise the dead, and nobody answered. I never noticed you was deaf when you was here, though Betsy Jane thinks she did. If you be, I’ll send you up a receipt for a kind of intment which Miss Sam Babbit invented, and which cures everything.