“They are not likely to be in any hurry to begin a sea-voyage such weather as this,” she said, shivering. “Two ladies, even if they are Canadians, can’t make quite so light of it as you do.”
“I wish you may be right,” he answered; “but if I should not find them there, I shall bring my father to England and then go off in search of them. A pretty prospect! They may lead me all over Europe before I find them.”
Lady Dighton laughed outright.
“One would suppose that telegraphs and railways were not in existence,” she said, “and that you had to set out, like a knight-errant, with nothing but a horse and a sword to recover your runaway lady-love.”
Maurice felt slightly offended, but thought better of it, and laughed too.
“I shall find them, no fear,” he answered; “but when? and where?”
Next morning he left Hunsdon, and went to London. The moment he was really moving, his spirits rose, and his temper, which had been considerably disturbed lately, recovered itself. He scarcely stopped at all, till he found himself that afternoon at the door of the solicitor’s office, where he had some affairs to attend to.
He got out of his cab and to the lawyer’s door, as if everything depended on his own personal speed; but just as he went up the steps, the door opened, and a clerk appeared, showing a gentleman out. Even in the midst of Maurice’s hurry, something familiar in the figure struck him; he looked again—it was Percy. They recognized each other; at the same moment, by a common impulse, they saluted each other ceremoniously and passed on their different ways.
Maurice was expected, and he found Mr. Payne ready to receive him. Instead, however, of plunging at once into business as, a minute ago, he was prepared to do, he asked abruptly. “Is Mr. Percy a client of yours?”
“I can hardly say that,” the lawyer answered, surprised by the question.
“I met him going out,” Maurice went on.
Mr. Payne rubbed his hands.
“It is no secret,” he said; “I may tell you, I suppose. He called about some points in a marriage settlement.”
Maurice felt his heart give a great leap.
“Whose?” he asked sharply.
Mr. Payne again looked surprised.
“His own, certainly. He is going to marry a daughter of the Earl of C——, and I had the honour of being employed by the late Countess’s family, from whom her ladyship derives what fortune she has. It is not very large,” he added, dropping from his dignified tone into a more confidential one.
Maurice was silent for a minute. His sensations were curious; divided between joy that Lucia was certainly free in this quarter, and a vehement desire to knock down, horsewhip, or otherwise ill-use the Honourable Edward Percy. Of course, this was a savage impulse, only worthy of a half-civilized backwoodsman, but happily he kept it down out of sight, and his companion filled up the pause.