No word was spoken; none was needed. Even had I not been pledged to verbal silence, words would have been poor and dull to express what we felt. Hand in hand, like two little children, we went up the staircase and waited on the landing, till the summons from Mr. Trelawny should come.
I whispered in her ear—it was nicer than speaking aloud and at a greater distance—how her father had awakened, and what he had said; and all that had passed between us, except when she herself had been the subject of conversation.
Presently a bell rang from the room. Margaret slipped from me, and looked back with warning finger on lip. She went over to her father’s door and knocked softly.
“Come in!” said the strong voice.
“It is I, Father!” The voice was tremulous with love and hope.
There was a quick step inside the room; the door was hurriedly thrown open, and in an instant Margaret, who had sprung forward, was clasped in her father’s arms. There was little speech; only a few broken phrases.
“Father! Dear, dear Father!”
“My child! Margaret! My dear, dear child!”
“O Father, Father! At last! At last!”
Here the father and daughter went into the room together, and the door closed.
During my waiting for the summons to Mr. Trelawny’s room, which I knew would come, the time was long and lonely. After the first few moments of emotional happiness at Margaret’s joy, I somehow felt apart and alone; and for a little time the selfishness of a lover possessed me. But it was not for long. Margaret’s happiness was all to me; and in the conscious sense of it I lost my baser self. Margaret’s last words as the door closed on them gave the key to the whole situation, as it had been and as it was. These two proud, strong people, though father and daughter, had only come to know each other when the girl was grown up. Margaret’s nature was of that kind which matures early.
The pride and strength of each, and the reticence which was their corollary, made a barrier at the beginning. Each had respected the other’s reticence too much thereafter; and the misunderstanding grew to habit. And so these two loving hearts, each of which yearned for sympathy from the other, were kept apart. But now all was well, and in my heart of hearts I rejoiced that at last Margaret was happy. Whilst I was still musing on the subject, and dreaming dreams of a personal nature, the door was opened, and Mr. Trelawny beckoned to me.
“Come in, Mr. Ross!” he said cordially, but with a certain formality which I dreaded. I entered the room, and he closed the door again. He held out his hand, and I put mine in it. He did not let it go, but still held it as he drew me over toward his daughter. Margaret looked from me to him, and back again; and her eyes fell. When I was close to her, Mr. Trelawny let go my hand, and, looking his daughter straight in the face, said: