He never spoke of her save at the dusk hour. During the broad, garish light of day, his lips were sealed. In the soft twilight of the evening, if it happened that Lucy was alone with him, then he would pour out his heart—would tell of his past tribulation. As past he spoke of it; had he not regarded it as past, he never would have spoken. Lucy listened, mostly in silence, returning him her earnest sympathy. Had Lucy Tempest been a little older in ideas, or had she been by nature and rearing less entirely single-minded, she might not have sat unrestrainedly with him, going into the room at any moment, and stopping there, as she would had he been her brother. Lucy was getting to covet the companionship of Lionel very much—too much, taking all things into consideration. It never occurred to her that, for that very reason, she might do well to keep away. She was not sufficiently experienced to define her own sensations; and she did not surmise that there was anything inexpedient or not perfectly orthodox in her being so much with Lionel. She liked to be with him, and she freely indulged the liking upon any occasion that offered.
“Oh, Lucy, I loved her! I did love her!” he would say, having repeated the same words perhaps fifty times before in other interviews; and he would lean back in his easy-chair, and cover his eyes with his hand, as if willing to shut out all sight save that of the past. “Heaven knows what she was to me! Heaven only knows what her faithlessness has cost!”
“Did you dream of her last night, Lionel?” answered Lucy, from her low seat where she generally sat, near to Lionel, but with her face mostly turned from him.
And it may as well be mentioned that Miss Lucy never thought of such a thing as discouraging Lionel’s love and remembrance of Sibylla. Her whole business in the matter seemed to be to listen to him, and help him to remember her.
“Ay,” said Lionel, in answer to the question. “Do you suppose I should dream of anything else?”
Whatever Lucy may or may not have supposed, it was a positive fact, known well to Lionel—known to him, and remembered by him to this hour—that he constantly dreamed of Sibylla. Night after night, since the unhappy time when he learned that she had left him for Frederick Massingbird, had she formed the prominent subject of his dreams. It is the strict truth; and it will prove to you how powerful a hold she must have possessed over his imagination. This he had not failed to make an item in his revelations to Lucy.
“What was your dream last night, Lionel?”
“It was only a confused one; or seemed to be when I awoke. It was full of trouble. Sibylla appeared to have done something wrong, and I was defending her, and she was angry with me for it. Unusually confused it was. Generally my dreams are too clear and vivid.”
“I wonder how long you will dream of her, Lionel? For a year, do you think?”