“Is it you, darling,” she asked, “so soon?”
“There is a storm coming on,” Lucia answered; “we hurried home to escape it.”
“And you have had a pleasant day?”
“Very pleasant. You have been out, too?”
“Yes; poor Mr. Leigh is quite an invalid, and complains that he never sees you now.”
“I will go to-morrow,” Lucia said hastily, and then, glad to escape from the subject, asked if her mother had seen an Indian woman about?
Mrs. Costello answered no, but Lucia felt her start, and went on to repeat, in as unconcerned a tone as possible, Margery’s story; but when she said that her own name had been mentioned, her mother stopped her.
“Was the woman a stranger? Have you ever seen her?”
“She was a stranger to Margery certainly. I think I saw her to-day.”
“Where? Tell me all you know of her.”
Lucia described the squaw’s appearance at the farm.
“It must be Mary,” Mrs. Costello said half to herself. “What shall I do? How escape?”
She rose from the sofa and walked with hurried steps up and down the room. Lucia watched her in miserable perplexity till she suddenly stopped.
“Is that all?” she asked. “Did she go away?”
Lucia finished her account, and when she had done so, Mrs. Costello came back to the sofa and sat down. She put her arm round her daughter, and drawing her close to her, she said, “You are a good child, Lucia, for you ask no questions, though you may well think your mother ought to trust you. Be patient only a little longer, till I have thought all over. Perhaps we shall be obliged to go away. I cannot tell.”
“Away from Cacouna, mamma?”
“Away from Cacouna and from Canada. Away from all you love—can you bear it?”
“Yes—with you;” but the first pang of parting came with those words.
“Away from all you love!” The words haunted Lucia after she lay down in her little white bed that night. There, in the midst of every object familiar to her through all her life, surrounded by the perfect atmosphere of home, she repeated, with wondering trouble, the threat that had come to her. When at last she slept, these words, and the pale face of her mother bending over her as she closed her eyes, mixed themselves with her dreams. At last, she fancied that a violent storm had come on in the very noon of a brilliant summer day. She herself, her mother, Percy and Maurice seemed to be standing on the river bank watching how the sky darkened, and the water rose in great waves at their feet. Suddenly a canoe appeared, and in it a hideous old squaw, who approached the shore, and stretching out a long bony hand drew her away from her mother’s side, and in spite of her terror made her step into the frail boat, which instantly flew down the stream into the darkest and wildest