He soon found out his mistake. In the first place the solicitor, who had a powerful and hereditary interest in the affairs of Hunsdon, was shocked beyond expression at the idea of such a voyage being undertaken at all. Here, he would have said if he had spoken his thoughts, was a young man just come into a fine estate, a magnificent estate in fact, and one of the finest positions in the country, and the very first thing he thinks of, is to hurry off on a long sea-voyage to a half-barbarous country, without once stopping to consider that if he were to be drowned, or killed in a railway accident, or lost in the woods, the estate might fall into Chancery, or at the best go to a woman. Mr. Payne mentally trembled at such rashness, and he expressed enough of the horror he felt, to make Maurice aware that it really was a less simple matter than he had supposed, and that his new fortunes had their claims and drawbacks. Mr. Payne followed up his first blow with others. He immediately began to ask, “If you go, what do you wish done in such a case?” And the cases were so many that Maurice, in spite of the knowledge Mr. Beresford had made him acquire of his affairs, became really puzzled and harassed. Finally, he saw that a delay of a week would be inevitable; and the solicitor, having gained the day so far, relented, and allowed him to hope that after a week’s application to business, he would be in a position to please himself.
Next day Maurice was left alone at Hunsdon. He wrote his last letter to his father, and being determined to follow it himself so shortly, he sent no message to the Costellos. Then he set to work hard and steadily to clear the way for his departure.
One day Maurice rode over to Dighton, and told his cousin he was come to say good-bye. She was not, of course, surprised to hear that he was really going, but she could not help expressing her wonder at the lightness with which he spoke of a journey of so many thousand miles.
“You talk of going to Canada,” she said, “just as I should talk of going to Paris—as if it were an affair of a few hours.”
“If it were six times as far,” he answered, “it would make no difference to me, except that I should be more impatient to start; and yet most likely when I get there I shall find my journey useless.”
Somehow or other there had come to be a tolerably clear understanding, on Lady Dighton’s part, of the state of affairs between Maurice and Lucia—she knew that Maurice was intent upon finding his old playfellow, and winning her if possible at once. She naturally took the part of her new favourite; and believed that if Lucia were really what he described her, she would easily be persuaded to come to Hunsdon as its mistress; for, of course, she knew of no other barrier between the young people than that of Maurice’s newly acquired importance. She thought Mrs. Costello had acted in a prudent and dignified manner in wishing to separate them; but she also thought, in rather a contradictory fashion, that since Maurice was intent upon the marriage, he ought to have his own way. So she was quite disposed to encourage him with auguries of success.