Lady Dighton understood this perfectly well. She had a quick perception of the character and feelings of those she associated with; and had talked to Maurice intentionally of what she guessed he must wish to hear. She had a great deal more to say to him, still, about her grandfather and her husband, and the country; and wanted to ask questions innumerable about his former home in Canada, his mother, and everything she could think of, the discussion of which would make them better acquainted. For she had quite decided that, as she said, they were to be very good friends; and, to put all family interest and ties on one side, there was something not disagreeable in the idea of taking under her own peculiar tutelage a young and handsome man, who was quite new to the world, and about entering it with all the prestige which attends the heir of fifteen or twenty thousand a year.
They were still talking busily when Mr. Beresford’s man came to say that his master was awake. They went in together and sat with him for the rest of the afternoon, until it was time for Lady Dighton to go. When she did, it was with a promise from Maurice, not to wait for a visit from Sir John, who was always busy, but to go over and dine at Dighton very soon; a promise Mr. Beresford confirmed, being in his heart very glad to see such friendly relations springing up between his two grandchildren. Maurice, on his side, was equally glad, for not only did his new friendship promise pleasure to himself, but he had a secret satisfaction in thinking how well his cousin and Lucia would get on together if—
But then the recollection that he had left Cacouna in possession of Mr. Percy came to interrupt the very commencement of a day dream.
Maurice paid his visit to Dighton—paid two or three visits, indeed—and his cousin came to Hunsdon still oftener, so that in the course of a few weeks, a considerable degree of intimacy grew up between them. Sir John was, as his wife said, always busy; he was hospitable and friendly to his new connection, but in all family or social matters he was content, and more than content, to drop into the shade, and let Lady Dighton act for both; so that Maurice, like the rest of the world (always excepting his constituents and tenants), very soon began to consider him merely as an appendage, useful, certainly, but not of much importance to anybody.
In the progress of their acquaintance it was natural that the cousins should often speak of Canada. Lady Dighton understood as little, and cared as little, about the distant colony as English people generally do; but she had considerable curiosity as to Maurice’s past life; and in her benevolent efforts to improve and polish him, she was obliged to recognize the fact that, loyal Englishman as he was by birth, education and association, he might have said truly enough,
“Avant tout, je suis Canadien.”