Lucia flew to bring her spade. She held the tree, while Maurice carefully arranged its roots and piled the earth about them; the scattered leaves were picked up from the bed, and a kind of tent made with matting over the invalid; at last she found time to say,
“But how did you happen to come just at the right moment?”
“I saw you from my window. I noticed that you were very busy for awhile, and when you stopped working and sat down in that disconsolate attitude, I guessed some terrible misfortune must have happened. So I came.”
Lucia looked at him gravely, a little troubled.
“I never saw anybody like you,” she said; “you seem always to know when one is in a dilemma.”
“If all dilemmas were like this, I might easily get up a character for being a sort of Providence; but come and show me what else there is to do.”
They worked together for an hour, by the end of which, all was restored nearly to its former neatness. Mrs. Costello came out and found them busy at the vine. Maurice was on a ladder nailing it up, while Lucia handed him the nails and strips of cloth, as he wanted them. She felt a lively pleasure in seeing them thus occupied. Maurice was too dear to her, for her not to have seen how Lucia’s recent and gradual estrangement had troubled him; for his sake, therefore, as well as for her own and her child’s, she had grieved daily over what she dared not interfere to prevent,—the breaking up of old habits, and the intervention between these two of an influence she dreaded. The experience of her own life had convinced her, rightly or wrongly, that it was worse than useless for parents to try to control their children’s inclinations in the most important point where inclination ever ought to be made the rule of conduct. But for years she had hoped that Lucia’s affection for Maurice would grow, unchecked and untroubled, till it attained that perfection which she thought the beau ideal of married love; and even now, she held tenaciously to such fragments of her old hope as still remained. This morning, after a night of the most painful anxiety and foreboding, her mind naturally caught at the idea that all could not go wrong with her; that she must have exaggerated the change in Lucia, and that, at least, some of the trouble she had anticipated for her child was a mere chimera.
She came out to them, therefore, pale and weary from her vigil, but cheerful and composed.
“How is your father, Maurice?” she asked; “can you stay with us to breakfast?”
“Thank you, no; my father is so much alone. He seemed better last night. Your visit did him good.”
“I am glad of that. Lucia will go over to-day and stay with him for a while.”
“Will she? He says she never comes to see him now.”
“Indeed, I will,” said Lucia, with a little remorse in her tone. “I will go and read the newspaper straight through to him, from one end to the other.”