Darling Maude--blessed Maude--in all your after life you proved the truth of those low spoken words, "I love you, poor little brother."
For many days did Mrs. Kennedy hover between life and death, never asking for her baby, and seldom noticing her husband, who, while declaring there was no danger, still deemed it necessary, in case anything should happen, to send for his sister, Mrs. Kelsey, who had not visited him since his last marriage. She was a proud, fashionable woman, who saw nothing attractive in the desolate old house, and who had conceived an idea that her brother's second wife was a sort of nobody whom he had picked up among the New England hills. But the news of her illness softened her feelings in a measure, and she started for Laurel Hill, thinking that if Matty died she hoped a certain dashing, brilliant woman, called Maude Glendower, might go there, and govern the tyrannical doctor, even as he had governed others.
It was late in the afternoon when she reached her brother's house, from which Nellie came running out to meet her, accompanied by Maude. From the latter the lady at first turned disdainfully away, but ere long stole another look at the brown-faced girl, about whom there was something very attractive.
"Curtains, as I live!" she exclaimed, as she entered the parlor. "A piano, and marble table, too. Where did these come from?"
"They are ma's, and she's got a baby upstairs," answered Maude, and the lady's hand rested for an instant on the little curly head, for strange as it may seem, she esteemed more highly a woman who owned a piano and handsome table than she did one whose worldly possessions were more limited.
After making some changes in her dress, she went up to the sick- room, and as Matty was asleep, she had ample time to examine her face, and also to inspect the room, which showed in someone a refined and delicate taste.
"She must be more of a lady than I supposed," she thought, and when at last her sister-in-law awoke she greeted her kindly, and during her visit, which lasted nearly two weeks, she exerted herself to be agreeable, succeeding so far that Matty parted from her at last with genuine regret.
"Poor thing--she'll never see another winter," was Mrs. Kelsey's mental comment, as she bade the invalid good-by; but in this she was mistaken, for with the falling of the leaf Matty began to improve, and though she never fully regained her health, she was able again to be about the house, doing far more than she ought to have done, but never uttering a word of complaint, however heavy was the burden imposed upon her.