“By the first mail. I would not lose an hour if I could help it.”
“You would frighten your father to death. No, you must wait a week certainly.”
“I wish I were certain of being off in a week.”
“Unreasonable boy! You talk of going across the Atlantic as other people do of going across the Channel. See, there is Brown, grandpapa must be awake.”
They went into the library and found Mr. Beresford quite ready for an hour or two of cheerful chat about the thousand trifles with which his granddaughter always contrived to amuse him. Then she went away, turning as she drove off to give Maurice a last encouraging nod; and not long after, Mr. Beresford complained of being more drowsy than usual, and asked Maurice to read him to sleep.
A book, not too amusing, was found, and the reading began; but the reader’s thoughts had wandered far from it and from Hunsdon, when they were suddenly recalled by a strange gurgling gasping sound. Alas! for Maurice’s hopes. His grandfather lay struggling for the second time in the grasp of paralysis.
They carried him to his bed, dumb and more than half unconscious; and there day after day, and week after week, he lay between life and death; taking little notice of anybody, but growing so restlessly uneasy whenever Maurice was out of his sight, that all they thought of doing was contriving by every possible means to save him the one disquiet of which he still seemed capable.
The day after that on which Mr. Strafford paid his first visit to the jail at Cacouna, was the one fixed for Doctor Morton’s funeral. Lucia knew that other friends would be with Bella, and was thankful to feel herself at liberty to stay at home—to be with her mother up to the moment of her going to that interview which Mr. Strafford advised, and to be on the spot at her return to hear without delay whatever its result might be.
In the afternoon, while the whole town was occupied with the ceremony which had so deep and painful an interest for everybody, Mrs. Costello and her faithful friend started for the jail. They said little to each other on the way, but as they drew near the end of their walk, Mrs. Costello began to talk about indifferent subjects by way of trying to lift for a moment the oppressive weight of thought which seemed almost to stupefy her. But the effort was to little purpose, and by the time they reached the door of the prison she was so excessively pale, and looked so faint and ill, that Mr. Strafford almost repented of his advice. It was too late now, however, to turn back, and all that could be done was to say, “Take courage; don’t betray yourself by your face.” The hint was enough, to one so accustomed to self-restraint; and when the jailer met them, she had forced herself to look much as usual.
But though she had sufficient command over herself to do this, and even to join, as much as was necessary, in the short conversation which took place before they were admitted to the prisoner’s cell, she could not afterwards remember anything clearly until the moment when she followed Mr. Strafford through a heavy door, and found herself in the presence of her husband.