Hildegarde looked up after reading this letter, and, curiously enough, her eyes fell directly on a little mirror which hung on the wall opposite. In it she saw a rosy, laughing face, which smiled back mischievously at her. There were dimples in the cheeks, and the gray eyes were fairly dancing with life and joyousness. Where was the “white disdain,” the dignity, the pallor and emaciation? Could this be Madge’s Queen Hildegarde? Or rather, thought the girl, with a sudden revulsion of feeling, could this Hildegarde ever have been the other? The form of “the minx,” long since dissociated from her thoughts and life, seemed to rise, like Banquo’s ghost, and stare at her with cold, disdainful eyes and supercilious curl of the lip. Oh DEAR! how dreadful it was to have been so odious! How could poor dear Papa and Mamma, bless them, have endured her as they did, so patiently and sweetly? But they should see when they came back! She had only just begun yet; but there were two months still before her, and in that time what could she not do? They should be surprised, those dear parents! And Madge—why, Madge would be surprised too. Poor Madge! To think of her in Saratoga, prinking and preening herself like a gay bird, in the midst of a whirl of dress and diamonds and gayety, with no fields, no woods, no glen, no—no kitchen! Hilda looked about the room which she had learned so to love, trying to fancy Madge Everton in it; remembering, too, the bitterness of her first feeling about it. The lamplight shone cheerily on the yellow painted walls, the shining floor, the gleaming brass, copper, and china. It lighted up the red curtains and made a halo round good Nurse Lucy’s head as she bent over her sewing; it played on the farmer’s silver-bowed spectacles as he pored with knitted brows and earnest look over the weekly paper which he had brought from the village. The good, kind farmer! Hilda gazed at him as he sat all unconscious, and wondered why she had not seen at once how handsome he really was. The broad forehead, with its deep, thoughtful furrows; the keen, yet kindly blue eyes; the “sable-silvered” hair and beard, which, if not exactly smooth, were still so picturesque, so leonine; the firm, perhaps obstinate, mouth, which could speak so wisely and smile so cordially,—all these combined to make up what the newspapers would call a “singularly attractive exterior.” And “Oh! how good he has been to me!” thought Hilda. “I believe he is the best man in the world, next to papa.” Then she thought of Madge again, and tried to fancy her in her Redfern hat,—pretty Madge, with her black eyes and curly fringe, under the “simplicity” of the heaven-aspiring wings and bows; and as she smiled at the image, there rose beside it the fair head of Pink Chirk, looking out like a white rose from the depths of her dingy straw tunnel. Then she fancied herself saying airily (she knew just how she used to say it), “The little things, my dear, are the only things!” and then she laughed aloud at the very funniness of it.