“Brackett,” said she, with pride.
The senator stepped into the hall and raised his voice the least trifle.
She answered from several rooms away, and came running. Her hands were inky, and she held a letter. She was no longer the timid little girl of the island, for somehow that escapade had emancipated her. She had waited for a few days in expectation of damnation, but, that failing to materialize, had turned over a leaf in her character, and became such a bully at home that the family and servants loved her more and more from day to day. She was fourteen at this time; altogether exquisite and charming and wayward.
“Aladdin O’Brien is very sick, daughter,” said the senator, “and we are going to see him.”
“And don’t tell him that you didn’t come to ask after him yesterday,” said Mrs. Brackett, defiantly, “because I said you did. I had my reasons,” she went on, “and you can say I said so.”
Margaret ran up-stairs to get her hat. She was almost wild with excitement and foreboding of she knew not what.
The letter which she had been writing fell from her hand. She picked it up, looked hastily at the superscription, “Mr. Peter Manners, Jr.,” and tore it into pieces.
There is no doubt that Aladdin’s recovery dated from Margaret’s visit. The poor boy was too sick to say what he had planned, but Margaret sat by his bed for a while and held his hand, and said little abrupt conventional things that meant much more to them both, and that was enough. Besides, and under the guns of her father’s eyes, just before she went away she stooped and kissed him on the forehead, and that was more than enough to make anybody get over anything, Aladdin thought. So he slept a long cool sleep after Margaret had gone, and woke free of fever. As he lay gathering strength to sit up in bed, which treat had been promised him in ten days, Aladdin’s mind worked hard over the future, and what he could machinate in order one day to be almost worthy to kiss the dust under Margaret’s feet. She sent him flowers twice, but was not allowed to come and see him again.
Aladdin had awful struggles with the boredom of convalescence. He felt perfectly well, and they wouldn’t let him get up and out; everything forbidden he wanted to eat. And his one solace was the Brackett library. This was an extraordinary collection of books. They were seven, and how they got there nobody knows. The most important in the collection was, in Mrs. Brackett’s estimation, an odd volume of an encyclopedia, bound in tree-calf and labeled, “Safety-lamps to Stranglers.” Next were four fat tomes in the German language on scientific subjects; these, provided that anybody had ever wanted to read them, had never succeeded in getting themselves read, but they had cuts and cuts which were fascinating to surmise about. The sixth book was the second volume of a romance called “The Headsman,” by “the author of ‘The Spy,’” and the seventh was a back-split edition of Poe’s poems.