She had no objection whatever to this; on the contrary, she had enough romance in her disposition to admire all generous and chivalric qualities, and her cousin’s patriotism only made her like him the better; but in spite of his frankness in most things, she had no idea that this affection for his native country was linked to and deepened by another kind of love. Lucia’s name had never passed his lips, and she had no means of guessing how daily and hourly thoughts of one fair young Canadian girl were inseparably joined to the very roots of every good quality he possessed. This ignorance did not at all arise from want of interest. Her feminine imagination, naturally fertile on such subjects, soon began to occupy itself with speculations in which every eligible young lady in the country figured in turn. It was not to be supposed that the heir of Hunsdon would find much difficulty in obtaining a wife; the really embarrassing task for his mentors was to see that he looked in the proper direction. And in this matter Mr. Beresford was not wholly to be trusted. So, as it happened, Lady Dighton began to take a great deal of perfectly useless thought and care for Maurice’s benefit, at the very time when he, all unconscious of her schemes, was beginning to consider it possible that he might confide to her the secret of his anxious and preoccupied thoughts.
It happened that Mr. Leigh, unaware of the deep interest his son took in the movements of Mr. Percy, only mentioned him in describing Bella Latour’s wedding, and omitted to say a word about his leaving Cacouna. Thus it was not until three weeks after his arrival in England that a chance expression informed Maurice that his dangerous rival was gone away, without giving him the satisfaction of knowing that he had been dismissed and was not likely to return. The same mail which brought this half intelligence, brought also a letter from Mrs. Costello, which spoke of her own and Lucia’s removal as a thing quite settled, though not immediate, and left the place of their destination altogether uncertain. These letters threw Maurice into a condition of discomfort and impatience, which he found hard to bear. He was extremely uneasy at the idea of his father being left without companion or nurse. This uneasiness formed, as it were, the background of his thoughts, while a variety of less reasonable, but more vivid, anxieties held a complete revel in the foreground. He had not even his old refuge against troublesome fancies; for work, real absorbing work, of any kind was out of the question now. His attendance on his grandfather, though often fatiguing enough, was no occupation for his masculine brain. If he had been a woman, he would have had a far better chance of imprisoning his mind as well as his body, in that sober, undisturbed, sick room; but though he could be almost as tender as a woman, he could not school himself into that strange kind of feminine patience, which even Lucia, spoiled child as she was, instinctively practised and grew strong in, while she tended his father.