The letter wound up with the most urgent entreaties that she would answer it at once, and give up entirely the useless attempt to separate him from Lucia; and when it was finished and sent off, quite regardless of the fact that it would have left England just as soon if written two days later, he began to feel a little comforted, and as if he had at any rate put a stop to the worst evil that threatened him.
But the relief lasted only a few hours. By the next day he was tormenting himself with all the ingenuity of which he was capable, and the task of amusing Mr. Beresford was ten thousand times harder than ever. He did it, and did it better than usual, but only because he was so annoyed at his own anxiety and absence of mind that he set himself with a sort of dogged determination to conquer them, or at any rate keep them out of sight. The more, however, that he held his thoughts shut up in his own mind, the more active and troublesome they became, and an idea took possession of him, which he made very few efforts to shake off, though he could not at first see clearly how to carry it into execution.
This idea was that he must return to Canada. He thought that one hour of actual presence would do more for his cause than a hundred letters—nay, he did not despair of persuading Mrs. Costello to bring Lucia to England, where he could keep some watch and guard over them both; but, at any rate, he had a strong fancy that he might at once learn the secret of her distress himself, and help her to keep it from others. He calculated that six weeks’ absence from Hunsdon would enable him to do this, and at the same time to make arrangements for his father’s comfort more satisfactory than the present ones. The last inducement was, of course, the one he meant to make bear the weight of his sudden anxiety, and after much deliberation, or what he thought was deliberation, he decided that the first thing to be done was to interest his cousin in his plans and try to get her help.