In the three days which had now passed since the murder, the minds even of those most nearly concerned had had time to rally a little from the first shock, and to begin to be conscious of the world around them going on just as usual in spite of all. Doctor Morton had been to a singular degree without relatives. An old and infirm uncle, living a long distance from Cacouna, was almost the only person connected with him by blood; it was to her own family alone, therefore, that Bella had to look for the deepest sympathy. But the whole neighbourhood had known her from a child; and in her great grief every one seemed ready to claim a share. All the kindness and goodness of heart which in ordinary times was hidden away under the crust of each different character, flowed out towards the young widow, and as she sat in her desolate house, sorrow seemed to invest her with its royalty, and to transform her old friends into loyal subjects, eager to do her but the smallest service.
And in the midst of this universal impulse of sympathy, and of the reverence which great suffering inspires, it was impossible for the Costellos to remain apart. Their own share in the misery did not prevent them from feeling for the others who knew nothing of their partnership; and Lucia forgot to accuse herself of hypocrisy when she was admitted into the darkened room, where her once gay companion sat and watched with heavy eyes the passing of those first days of widowhood. No one would have recognized Bella Latour now. She sat, wan and half-lifeless, caring for nothing except now and then to draw round her more closely a great shawl in which she was wrapped, as if the only sensation of which she was still capable were that of cold. Hour after hour she neither spoke nor moved, until her sister, alarmed, and anxious by any means to arouse her from her stupor, implored Lucia to see her, to try to make her speak or shed the tears which, since she had seen the body of her husband, seemed to be frozen up.
Mrs. Bellairs had not been mistaken in hoping for some good result from Lucia’s visit. At the sight of her a flood of colour rushed to Bella’s deathlike face, and she half rose to meet her; but when she felt the long tender kiss which had a whole world of tender pity in its silent language, she turned suddenly away, and throwing herself upon a couch, sobbed with the passionate vehemence of a child. From that moment she was eager to keep Lucia with her. She did not care to speak, but the sight of one so associated with her lost happiness seemed a consolation to her; and thus, with her own heavy weight of uncertainty and distress, the poor girl had to take up and bear patiently such share as she could of her friend’s. After the first, too, there came back such a horrible sensation of being a kind of accessory to the crime which had been committed, that the mere sight of Bella’s face was torture to her.