“Where are they going?” she asked when she had had time to believe this surprising item regarding the Costellos.
“South, I believe, for the winter. Mrs. Costello is not well.”
“Mrs. Costello or Lucia? Upon my word, if Lucia is not breaking her heart, she ought to be, for Mr. Percy.”
“Bella, I wish you would leave off talking such nonsense. Do you never mean to be wiser?”
“Never, my dear; it’s hopeless. But confess, Elise, that you were very fidgety about Lucia, and heartily glad to get rid of your visitor. Why, I saw it in every line of your letter, which told me he was gone.”
Mrs. Bellairs coloured. “Yes, I will confess I was not sorry when he went; he bored me a little, and I am afraid I was not as hospitable as I might have been.”
“Well, and how about Lucia? You might as well tell me, for I shall see her to-morrow and find out everything.”
“There is nothing for me to tell or you to find out. Lucia is anxious about her mother, and, I think, sorry to leave Cacouna. There is something like a shadow of real trouble upon her face, and I advise you, Bella, if you have any regard for her, to talk no nonsense to her about Mr. Percy.”
Bella looked positively grave for a moment. She was but just married, and was very happy herself—it was natural, perhaps, that she should refuse in her own heart to acknowledge the necessity for Lucia’s “real trouble” having other cause than the departure of Percy; but, like her sister, she was very warm-hearted, though her flightiness often concealed it, and she had a small fund of sentiment and romance safely hidden away somewhere, which helped to make her sympathetic.
Mrs. Bellairs was pleased with her sister’s gravity. She did not choose to confess that she also believed Lucia had to some degree grieved over her absent admirer, for she knew nothing of his proposal or what had followed it, and had a peculiar dislike to hearing Lucia’s name linked with his in Bella’s careless talk. But she had seen clearly enough that if he was regretted, that regret was but part of Lucia’s trouble, and she wanted to say nothing of her own suspicions, and yet to save Lucia from the attack Bella was sure to make upon her, if she did not perceive (as she was not likely to do unaided) that her jests were specially ill-timed. So she went on talking.
“They are to shut up the Cottage, and I have promised to look into it occasionally and see that it is kept in repair, but I think their greatest difficulty is about poor Mr. Leigh, whom Maurice left in their care. I do not know what he will do without them.”
“I suppose there is news of Maurice? You have not sent me any.”
“He found his grandfather ill, and in great want of some one of his own family about him; but not, I fancy, at all likely to die. He is slightly paralysed and unable to move without help, or to amuse himself in any way. Poor Maurice seems to have no easy life as far as I can judge.”