"Look back! Look back at me!" John thought, looking desperately through the snow at the receding carriage. Then he saw her, looking back through the rear window, eyes filled with longing and sadness, hand raised in farewell. No, not in farewell, it was pressed flat against the window as if she were trying to reach for him. Then the carriage disappeared through the gates. John stood dumbfounded. Had God answered his prayer? Had her heart heard his? What should he do? Should he run after the carriage? John starts down the stairs.
"Margaret! What are you doing?" Aunt Shaw asked in astonishment, such behavior from a lady was not proper.
[I]t was impossible but that the recollection of the day of the riot should force itself into [her] minds.
Margaret stuttered "Oh, I - I don't know… I -I was thinking of the last time I stood there with – with - father." She was not thinking of when she stood there with her father but she couldn't tell her aunt about that.
Aunt Shaw patted her niece's arm in understanding. "You'll feel better when we get to London tomorrow."
Just then Higgins came running through the gate. "Did I miss her again?" he asked.
"Again?" John blinked as he descended the stairs.
"Yes, my Mary said she stopped by."
"You'll not have much time to try and see her. She's not staying in Milton a day longer if her Aunt can help it. They are grand relations, and they're carrying her off to London; and we won't see her anymore."
"I'll just have to go out to Crampton"
Then it struck John, "I'll accompany you. There is something I need to tell her."
Higgins cocked an eyebrow, "Well then, we best be off."
They walked silently for a while, Higgins striving to keep up with the master's long enthusiastic strides.
Thornton's enthusiasm let in a new light to the acute Higgins. It might be but a will-o'-th'-wisp, but he thought he would follow it and ascertain whither it would lead him.
So Higgins asked him, "Will she be going on to Spain from London?"
"Spain? Why would she go there?" John asked.
"Well, to see her brother, now that he's her only family."
John stopped. "Her brother? She doesn't have a brother."
Higgins stopped too and faced John. "Him that were over when their mother were dying. Kept it a secret, they did. My Mary used to fetch things for them. She's a quiet girl, but she talks to me."
"Why wouldn't Mr. Hale tell me that he had a son?"
"Something to do with the law. Found himself on the wrong side of the Navy. In real danger he was." Higgins turned and walked on leaving John to contemplate this revelation.
"He was her brother." John said to himself, with the beginnings of a smile. He looked up to see Higgins well ahead of him and ran to catch up.
Margaret's strength was so utterly exhausted by these visits and her anxiety over whether Mr. Thornton saw her look back and what he might have thought that she had to submit to much watching, and petting, and sighing 'I-told-you-so's,' from her aunt. Dixon said she was quite as bad as she had been on the first day she heard of her father's death; and she and Mrs. Shaw consulted as to the desirableness of delaying the morrow's journey. [W]hen her aunt reluctantly proposed a few days' delay to Margaret, the latter looked up with a glimmer of hope and thought this way she might have an opportunity to see Mr. Thornton again.
She replied, "Yes, I do not think I am quite up for traveling just yet."
This new hope did Margaret good. She roused up; and by the time that she knew she might expect Higgins, she was able to leave the room quietly, and await in her own chamber the expected summons.
As they neared Crampton, Higgins turned to John with a smirk on his face. "I reckon you'll prefer to speak to her alone. That Dixon woman probably won't let you if she sees you."
"You're right." John said pensively.
"I usually go to the servant's entrance but Miss Margaret will insist I come up to the parlor. I can let her know you are here and she can let you in."
"I suppose that will do. I will wait out front." And try to figure out what I am going to say, he thought to himself.
Higgins passed on his condolences and wished Margaret well in her new life. In turn she gave him her father's old Bible enjoining him to read it in memory of her father and pressed upon him some money for the Boucher children.
When Higgins realized that Margaret would walk him to the front door he didn't bother telling her about Thornton, thinking she would find him there. When she saw him on the doorstep she was quite surprised.
"Mr. Thornton!" she said.
Higgins turned, wished her good day, winked at John, and left.
"May I speak with you?" John asked.
Margaret ushered him into the familiar study. John had decided to cut right to the chase as he now had nothing to lose.
"Higgins told me about your brother."
For an instant she looked up; and then sought to veil her luminous eyes by dropping her forehead on her hands.
Not needing a response John stepped closer and went on to say, "When you left the mill earlier you were taking my heart with you. My feelings for you have not changed. I stood there, watching you leave, and willing you to look back at me – and you did. Why?" This time he waited for an answer.
Still lower went the head; more closely hidden was the face. "Something in my heart called to me to turn around it felt like my heart was being left with you as well."
[H]er very heart-pulse was arrested by the tone in which Mr. Thornton spoke. His voice was hoarse, and trembling with tender passion, as he said:-
Again, stepping nearer, he besought her with another tremulous eager call upon her name.
He came close to her; and whispered-panted out the words:-
'Take care.-If you do not speak-I shall claim you as my own in some strange presumptuous way.-Send me away at once, if I must go;-Margaret!-'
At that third call she turned her face, still covered with her small white hands, towards him, and laid it on his shoulder, hiding it even there. He clasped her close. But they both kept silence. At length she murmured in a broken voice:
'How shall I ever tell Aunt Shaw?' she whispered, after some time of delicious silence…