They decided to start for Paris next morning, Mr. Wynter saying that he had arranged for a week’s absence from England, and therefore would have plenty of time to see them fixed in their new residence before he left. Then the conversation glided to other subjects, and Lucia losing her interest in it, began to wonder where Percy was—whether they were again on the same continent—whether he would hear, through the Bellairs, of their movements—whether he thought of her. And from that point she went off in some indescribable maze of dreams, recollections, and wishes, through which there came, as if from a distance, the sound of voices talking about England—about Chester—about her mother’s old home and old friends—and about her young cousins, the Wynters, and a visit they were to make to France when spring should have set in.
In the midst of all, the sound of a great clock striking broke the stillness of the snowy streets, and, just after, a party of men passed, singing a clamorous French song, and stamping an accompaniment with their heavy shoes. Lucia smiled as she listened, and then sighed. In truth this was a new life, into which nothing of the old one could come except love and memory.
Of course, they could not sleep that night. They missed the motion of the ship, which had lately lulled them; they could not shake off the impression of strangeness and feel sufficiently at home to forget themselves; and to Lucia, used to the healthy sleep of eighteen, this was a much more serious matter than to one who had kept as many vigils as Mrs. Costello. They appeared, therefore, in the morning to have changed characters; Lucia was pale and tired, Mrs. Costello seemed bright and refreshed.
The rapid and uneventful journey to Paris ended, for the present, their wanderings. When, on the following day, they started out in search of apartments, Mrs. Costello looked round her in astonishment. More than twenty years ago she had really known something of the city; now there only seemed to be, here and there, an old landmark left to prove that it was not altogether a new and strange place. Lucia was delighted with everything. She no sooner saw the long line of the Champs Elysees than she declared that there, and nowhere else, their rooms must be found.
“In the city, mamma,” she said, “you could not breathe; and as for sleeping, you know what it was last night; and if we went further out, we should see nothing.”
Mrs. Costello was too pleased to see her daughter looking and speaking with something of her old liveliness to be inclined to oppose her fancies, only she said with a smile,
“The Champs Elysees is expensive—remember that, Lucia—and I am going to make you keeper of the purse.”
“Very well, mamma, if it is too dear, of course there is no more to be said; but you don’t object to our trying to get something here, do you?”
“Decidedly not. Let us try by all means.”