Each day Lucia spent as long a time as she could with Mr. Leigh, and strangely enough, the old man seemed to feel less depression after Maurice was actually gone, than he had done in anticipating the separation. In the hours which Lucia passed with him, he took delight in talking to her of his wife, and her early home, describing it with that wonderful recollection of trifles which seems to return to old people when they speak of the incidents and scenes of their youth. And Lucia loved to listen, and to picture to herself Maurice making acquaintance with all these things which his father spoke of; and becoming necessary to the proud, childless possessor of such wealth and so fair a home, just as he had been necessary to them all, far away in the west. After all, these hours were the happiest of Lucia’s life at that time. They brought her the consciousness of doing right—of doing what would please Maurice, whose approbation had, all her life, been one of her dearest rewards for “being good;” and she had also the actual enjoyment of these quiet conversations, coming in, as they did, between the more vivid and more troubled delights of feeling herself engrossed by a spell, to whose power she submitted with joy indeed, but also with trembling. Every time she now saw Bella, it appeared to her more entirely incomprehensible that any one could act as she was doing; the mere idea of a marriage where convenience, suitableness, common sense were the best words that could be used to account for it, began to seem revolting. She could not have explained why, yet she felt, at times, a positive repugnance to take any part in the celebration of so worldly, so loveless a contract.
It was in this humour that she came back from Cacouna the evening before the wedding. Bella had been more flippant than usual, until even Mrs. Bellairs had completely lost patience with her, and the incorrigible girl had only been stopped by the fear of her guardian’s displeasure from insisting on driving Lucia home, while Doctor Morton, who had been all day absorbed by his patients, waited for her decision about some arrangements for their journey. Lucia could not help giving her what Bella called a lecture, but when she reached home and was seated in her usual place at her mother’s feet, she was still puzzling over the subject, and over what Mrs. Costello had said when she first heard of the engagement.
“Mamma,” she said, at last, “do you remember saying you thought Bella’s might be a very happy marriage? I wonder if you think so still?”
“Why should not I? What is changed?”
“I don’t know that anything is; but you know how tiresome she is. I cannot imagine how Doctor Morton bears it.”
“Probably, he bears it because he thinks her tiresomeness will soon be over. When she is married and in her own house, she will have other things to think of besides teasing him.”
“But, mamma, do you think she loves him?”