Afterwards a council was held as to what could be done for Christian’s defence. All legal help possible must be obtained, they decided, at any risk; but to the two women this did not seem enough. One of them, at least, would have liked to try any scheme, however difficult or absurd, for fixing the guilt upon the true criminal, and so saving the false one; but so far from that, they must not even suffer their agitation and keen interest to be noticed; the very lawyers must be engaged with caution or bound to secrecy. As long as their secret could be kept, it must. And Mr. Strafford could not remain at Cacouna. He had come promptly to the help of the one unfortunate member of his flock, but the little community on the island always felt his absence grievously, and three or four days was the utmost he could spare at a time. Mrs. Costello greatly desired to see her husband again, but to do so without Mr. Strafford’s presence was a trial from which she shrank, and which he thought there was not sufficient reason for her to undergo. It was decided therefore that he should make arrangements by which, and by the kindness of the jailer, she should be kept constantly informed of his condition of health, both mental and bodily. “If he should be either worse in body or better in mind,” she said, “I shall go to him at once; and I have a strong presentiment that he will need me before long.”
A separate consultation from which Lucia was excluded, ended in a decision to which she would certainly not have consented, however she might, later, be obliged to yield to it. This was, that if Mrs. Costello should feel herself called upon to avow her marriage for her husband’s sake, Lucia should first be sent to England and confided to the care of her mother’s cousin, George Wynter, so that she, at least, might be spared the hard task of facing her small familiar world under a new and degraded character. But of this plan Lucia suspected nothing. Her thoughts travelled as often as ever they had done, to that misty terra incognita which Canadians still call “Home,” for now Maurice was there, and perhaps (but for that thought she reproved herself) Percy also; but she had now wholly given up her dreams of visiting it, and most surely would not have resumed them with the prospect of leaving her mother in sorrow and alone.
After a time of so much stress and excitement, there followed a pause—a period of waiting, both for the mother and daughter at the Cottage, and for the small world of Cacouna, which had been startled by the crime committed in its very midst. As for the Costellos, when all the little that they could do for the prisoner had been done, they had only to occupy themselves with their old routine, or as much of it as was still possible, and to try to bring their thoughts back to the familiar details of daily life. Household affairs must be attended to; Mr. Leigh must