“I have something more interesting to ask her.”
Mrs. Costello knew tolerably well, when Lucia kissed her that night, what had happened. She said nothing audibly, but in her heart there was a Nunc Dimittis sung thankfully; and in spite of the sea, she fell asleep over it. The night was as calm as it could be, and Maurice, who had no inclination for sleep or for the presence of the crowd below, spent most of it on deck. Towards morning he went down; but at seven o’clock, when Lucia peeped out, he was up again and waiting for her. She only gave him a little nod and smile, however, and then retreated, but presently came back with her mother.
They got chairs and sat watching the coast, which was quickly coming nearer, and the vessels which they passed lying out in the still waters.
“We shall be in in two hours,” Maurice said, “though we were late starting. The captain says he has not had such a good run this year.”
“For which I am very thankful,” Mrs. Costello answered.
“What a mercy it is to have got away so easily; it was well we sent to you, Maurice.”
“Very well; the best thing that ever was done. Lucia and I agreed as to that last night.”
Lucia pouted the very least in the world, and her mother smiled.
“It seems to me you took a long while to settle the question. I thought she was never coming.”
“Why, mamma? I came as soon as the boat started.”
“We have settled our differences,” Maurice said, leaning down to speak quietly to Mrs. Costello. “Do you give us leave to make our own arrangements for the future?”
“I think you are pretty sure of my leave.”
“Then we all go straight on to Hunsdon together?”
“Are those your arrangements?”
“Not mine, certainly,” Lucia interposed. “I thought we were to stay in London.”
“Don’t you see,” Mrs. Costello asked, “that any little compact you two children may have made has nothing to do with the necessity of my finding a house for myself and my daughter—as long as she is only my daughter.”
Maurice had to give way a second time.
“Very well then,” he said. “At all events you can’t forbid me to stay in London, too.”
“But I certainly shall. You may stay and see us settled, but after that you are to go home and attend to your own affairs.”
They reached London by noon, and before night they found, and took possession of, a lodging which Mrs. Costello said to herself would suit them very well until Lucia should be married; after which, of course, she would want to settle near Hunsdon. Maurice spent the evening with them, but was only allowed to do so on condition of leaving London for home next morning.
As soon as they were at all settled, Mrs. Costello wrote to her cousin. She told him that she had had urgent reason for quitting France suddenly; that other causes had weighed with her in deciding to return to England, and that she was anxious to see and consult with him. She begged him, therefore, to come up to town and to bring one at least of his daughters with him on a visit to Lucia.