It was well for Mr. Leigh that these last weeks in his old home were so full of hurry and excitement, and that he was supported by the presence of his son, and by the thought that he was fulfilling what would have been the desire of his much-beloved and long-lost wife; for the pain of parting for ever from the places where so many years of happiness and of sorrow had been spent—from the birthplace of his children, and the graves which were sacred to his heart, grew at times very bitter, and needed all his absorbing love for his last remaining child, to make it endurable. It is quite true, however, that at other times, the idea of meeting his old neighbour of the Cottage in that far-away and half-forgotten England, and of seeing Maurice and Lucia once more together, as he could not help but hope they would be, cheered him into positive hopefulness and eagerness to be gone.
Two days before their actual leaving, it was necessary for the household to be broken up. Maurice wished to go for the interval to a hotel. Cacouna had two,—long gaunt wooden buildings supposed to be possessed of “every accommodation,”—but so many voices were instantly raised against this plan, that it had to be given up, and Mrs. Bellairs, with great rejoicing, carried off both father and son from half-a-dozen other claimants. Literally, she only carried off Mr. Leigh, for Maurice, who had entirely resumed his Canadian habits, was still deep in the business of packing and of seeing to the arrangements for the morrow’s sale; but he had promised to have his work finished before evening, and to join them in good time in Cacouna.
As Mrs. Bellairs drove Mr. Leigh home in her own sleigh, flourishing the whip harmlessly over Bob’s ears and making him clash all his silver bells at once with the tossing of his head, she could not help saying,
“Don’t you think now Maurice is such a rich man he ought to marry soon?”
Her companion looked at her doubtfully.
“Perhaps he is thinking of it,” he answered.
“When he is married,” she went on with a little laugh, “he has promised to invite us to England.”
But Mr. Leigh did not smile.
“I hope you will come soon, then,” he said.
“You think there is a chance?”
“I think it will not be his fault if there is not.”
“And I think he is not likely to find the lady very obstinate.”
“What lady? Any one or one in particular?”
“I thought of one, certainly.”
“You think she would marry him?”
“Why not? Yes, I think so.”
“And her mother?”
“Ah! I don’t know; Mrs. Costello has a will of her own.”