Mr. Leigh, full of self-reproach and secret disturbance, vowed that the journey would do him good; that he was eager to see the old country once again. He had resolved, as the penance for his blunder, that he would not be the means of hindering his boy one day in his quest for Lucia. Nevertheless, the discussion grew warm, for Mr. Bellairs having vainly protested against a winter voyage for the Costellos, had his arguments all ready and in order, and had no scruple in bringing them to bear upon Maurice. Of course, they were thrown away, just so many wasted words; the angry impatient longing that was in the young man’s heart would have been strong enough to overthrow all the arguments in the universe. Only one reason would have been strong enough to keep him—his father’s unfitness for travel; and that could not fairly be urged, for Mr. Leigh was actually in better health than he had been for years, and would not himself listen to a word on the subject.
Just before the visitors left, Maurice found an opportunity of asking Mrs. Bellairs one of his “thousand questions.”
“Mr. Strafford, of Moose Island, was Mrs. Costello’s great adviser, does not he know?”
“No; I wrote to him, and got his answer this morning. He only knew they would probably stay some time in France.”
She was just going out to get into the sleigh as she spoke. Suddenly with her foot on the step she stopped,
“Stay! I have the address of a friend, a cousin, I think, of Mrs. Costello’s in England. Mr. Strafford sent it to me.”
“Thanks, thanks. I shall see you in the morning.”
Maurice went back joyfully into the house. Here was a clue. Now, oh, to be off and able to make use of it!
Before going to bed on the very night of his arrival, Maurice found the list of steamers, and with his father’s approbation fixed upon one which was advertised to sail in a few days over a fortnight from that time. It happened to be a vessel the comfortable accommodation of which had been specially praised by some experienced travellers, his fellow-passengers in the ‘India,’ and the advantages of going by it being quite evident, served to satisfy what small scruples of conscience Mr. Bellairs had been able to awaken. He wrote, therefore, to secure berths and put his letter ready to be taken into Cacouna next morning, when he should go to pay his promised visit to Mrs. Bellairs.
It was early when Maurice awoke; he did so with a sense of having much to do, but the aspect of his own old room, so strange now and yet so familiar, kept him dreaming for a few minutes before that important day’s work could be begun. How bare and angular it seemed, how shabby and poor the furniture! It never had been anything but a boy’s room of the simplest sort, and yet it had many happy and some few sad associations, such as no other room could