So he grew silent for ever in this life.
The cold grey of the early winter morning was just beginning to be warmed by the first flash of crimson before sunrise, as Mrs. Bellairs drove away from the prison gates with the two who had kept so strange a vigil. Neither of them noticed the sky then, or they might have seen how after the shadows began to disappear, and the snowy glimmer which had shone palely all night, was swallowed up in the growing brightness of morning, everything began to be tinged with rosy splendour, and life fresh and joyous, sprang up to meet the sun. It was winter still—all last year’s leaves and flowers were dead, and there was the hush of snow and frost upon everything; but over all, after storm and night came light and gladness, and the flowers would bloom again in their season.
It was quite early still and few people were stirring. They saw no one on their arrival except Bella, who was ready to run down and admit them the moment their sleigh-bells were heard. Mother and daughter went to their room, where the fire had been burning all night in readiness for their coming, and where Mrs. Bellairs herself brought them some coffee. Then Lucia lay down and was soon asleep; and Mrs. Costello seeing that she was so, followed her example.
There was no vehement grief to keep her waking in these first hours of her widowhood, but rather a sense of infinite calm. The thought of her husband, so long a daily torture and irritation, was now a sacred memory—the last few hours had been to her the renewal of her marriage vows, to which death had brought only a fuller ratification, after life’s long divorce. She was very weak and weary; and but for the child beside her, would have been glad to enter herself that unseen world whose gates seemed so near, and to have rested there; but it was not time yet. So she lay and thought, calmly and soberly, till she too dropped asleep.
She kept in her room all day till quite evening. Mr. Bellairs had undertaken to make all the needful arrangements, and it was not necessary that any one should know that the real direction of affairs rested with her. Her first occupation was to write to Mr. Strafford, telling him of Christian’s death, and of her own wish, that the body should be taken to Moose Island for burial. It would have to be removed as soon as possible from the jail, and she desired that it might be carried at once to her old home, where she and Lucia would be ready to receive it. This letter was sent off by a special messenger; but as there could be no doubt of the answer, all went on at Cacouna as if it had already arrived. In the evening, when Mrs. Costello came down to join the rest of the family in the drawing-room, she had changed little of her usual gentle manner. There might be a deeper shade of gravity, but she was not, and did not appear, sad. Lucia and Bella were