“No, indeed. I wish to know their names, family connection, and whether they were well off or not.”
Madge again laughed, and began to disrobe, in order to indicate that their confidence must at least be adjourned for the present. Her sister came and felt her perfect arms and rounded, gleaming shoulders. “Why, Madge,” she exclaimed, “your flesh is as white and smooth as ivory, and almost as firm to the touch! It’s a wonderful transformation. I can scarcely believe, much less understand it. You have grown so beautiful that you almost turn even my head.”
“There is nothing so wonderful about it, Mary. Almost any girl may win health, and therefore more or less beauty, if she has the sense and will to make the effort. You know what I was when I left home. I suggested doctors’ bills more than anything else, and it was chiefly my fault;” and she sighed deeply. “When I went to work in a rational way to get strong, I succeeded. I believe this would be true with the great majority. Good-night, dear. When I am rested I’m going to help you in many ways, in return for all you did for that lazy, lackadaisical, limp little nonentity that you used to dose and coddle when you should have given her a good shaking.”
“It’s all a miracle,” said Mrs. Muir to her husband, at the conclusion of lengthy remarks about Madge.
“As much a miracle as my fortune,” was the quiet reply. “Madge has had sense enough to know what she wanted and how to get it.”
NOT A MIRACLE
Madge was simply fatigued from her long journey, and not oppressed with want of sleep, for in passing through uninteresting portions of the country she had given herself up to repose. The sense of weariness passed with the hours of night, and she was among the earliest stirring in the morning. Long before breakfast was ready she had her trunks partially unpacked, her mind meantime busy with plans for immediate action. At last her healthful appetite so asserted itself that she went down to the dining-room. Mr. and Mrs. Muir had not yet appeared, and she strolled into the parlor, opened her piano, and played a few runs. She found it sadly out of tune from long disuse. As this was not true of her voice, she began singing a favorite German song.
In a moment the house was full of melody. Clear, sweet, and powerful, her notes penetrated to the kitchen, where the maids were busy, and they stopped in spellbound wonder, with dish or utensil in hand. Mrs. Muir listened with her hair-brush suspended, while methodical Mr. Muir laid down his razor, and, going to the door, set it ajar. The song poured into the room like an harmonic flood. Before the first stanza was completed Mrs. Muir had on her dressing-gown and was stealing downstairs into the back parlor, and as Madge was beginning again she rushed upon her.
“Why, why,” she exclaimed, “I thought Nilsson or Patti had got lost and taken refuge here! Can it be you? You are nothing but a surprise from beginning to end. When will the wonders cease? Are you sure that you are Madge?”