They were evidently twelve or thirteen years of age, and in personal appearance somewhat alike, save that the face of the brown-haired boy was more open, ingenuous, and pleasing than that of his companion, whose hair and eyes were black as night. A jolt of the cars caused Maude to lay her chubby hand upon the shoulder of the elder boy, who, being very fond of children, caught it within his own, and in this way made her acquaintance. To him she was very communicative, and in a short time he learned that "her name was Maude Remington, that the pretty lady in brown was her mother, and that the naughty man was not her father, and never would be, for Janet said so."
This at once awakened an interest in the boys, and for more than an hour they petted and played with the little girl, who, though very gracious to both, still manifested so much preference for the brown- haired, that the other laughingly asked her which she liked the best.
"I like you and you," was Maude's childlike answer, as she pointed a finger at each.
"But," persisted her questioner, "you like my cousin the best. Will you tell me why?"
Maude hesitated a moment, then laying a hand on either side of the speaker's face, and looking intently into his eyes, she answered, "You don't look as if you meant for certain, and he does!"
Had Maude Remington been twenty instead of five, she could not better have defined the difference between those two young lads, and in after years she had sad cause for remembering words which seemed almost prophetic. At Albany they, parted company, for though the boys lived in Rochester they were to remain in the city through the night, and Dr. Kennedy had decided to go on. By doing so he would reach home near the close of the next day, beside saving a large hotel bill, and this last was with him a very weighty reason. But he did not say so to his wife; neither did he tell her that he had left orders for his carriage to be in Canadaigua on the arrival of the noon train, but he said "he was in haste to show her to his daughter--that 'twas a maxim of his to save as much time as possible, and that unless she were very anxious to sleep, he would rather travel all night." So the poor, weary woman, whose head was aching terribly, smiled faintly upon him as she said, "Go on, of course," and nibbled at the hard seedcakes and harder crackers which he brought her, there not being time for supper in Albany.
It was a long, tedious ride, and though a strong arm was thrown around her, and her head was pillowed upon the bosom of her husband, who really tried to make her as comfortable as possible, Mrs. Kennedy could scarcely refrain from tears as she thought how different was this bridal tour from what she had anticipated. She had fully expected to pass by daylight through the Empire State, and she had thought with how much delight her eye would rest upon the grassy meadows, the fertile plains, the winding Mohawk, the drone- like boats on the canal, the beautiful Cayuga, and the silvery water so famed in song; but, in contrast to all this, she was shut up in a dingy car, whose one dim lamp sent forth a sickly ray and sicklier smell, while without all was gloomy, dark, and drear. No wonder, then, that when toward morning Maude, who missed her soft, nice bed, began to cry for Janet and for home, the mother too burst forth in tears and choking sobs, which could not be controlled.
"Hush, Matty--don't," and the disturbed doctor shook her very gently; "it will soon be daylight, and 'tis a max--" Here he stopped, for he had no maxim suited to that occasion; and, in a most unenviable frame of mind, he frowned at the crying Maude, and tried to soothe his weeping wife, until at last, as the face of the latter was covered, and the former grew more noisy and unmanageable, he administered a fatherly rebuke in the shape of a boxed ear, which had no other effect than the eliciting from the child the outcry, "Let me be, old doctor, you!" if, indeed, we except the long scratch made upon his hand by the little sharp nail of his stepdaughter.