While his neighbours were still at Moose Island Mr. Leigh received two letters from Maurice. The first not only did not contain the usual note enclosed for Mrs. Costello, but there was not the slightest message to, or mention of, either her or Lucia. Mr. Leigh examined the letter, peeped into the envelope, shook the sheets apart (for Maurice’s writing filled much space with few words), but found nothing. The real explanation of this was simple enough. Maurice had written his note to Mrs. Costello, and then, just as he was going to put it in the envelope, was called to his grandfather. In getting up from the table he gave the note a push, which sent it down into a wastepaper basket. There it lay unnoticed, and when he came back, just in time to send off his letters, he fancied, not seeing it, that he had put it into the envelope, which accordingly he closed and sent to the post without it. But of course Mr. Leigh knew nothing about this.
The second letter was equally without enclosure or message, though from a very different cause. It was scarcely a dozen lines in length, and only said that Mr. Beresford was dying. Maurice had just received Mrs. Costello’s farewell note; he was feeling angry and grieved, and could think of no better expedient than to keep silence for the moment, even if he had had time to renew his expostulations. He had not fully comprehended the secret Mrs. Costello entrusted to him, but in the preoccupations of the moment, he put off all concerns but those of the dying man until he should have more leisure to attend to them. Thus, by a double chance, Mr. Leigh was allowed to persuade himself that Maurice had either never had any absorbing interest in the Costellos, or that his interest in them was being gradually supplanted by others. In this opinion, and in a curiously uncomfortable and contradictory humour, his friends found him when they came back from the island.