When all the visitors were gone, and the household had retired for the night, Mr. Bellairs and his former pupil sat together over the drawing-room fire for one last chat. Their talk wandered over all sorts of subjects—small incidents of law business—the prospects of some Cacouna men who had gone to British Columbia—the voyage to England—the position of Hunsdon—and Maurice had been persuading his host to come over next summer for a holiday, when by some chance Percy was alluded to.
“You have not seen or heard anything of him, I suppose?” Mr. Bellairs asked.
“Yes, indeed, I have,” Maurice answered, slowly stirring the poker about in the ashes as he spoke. “I met him only the other day in London.”
“Met him? Where?”
“On a doorstep——,” and he proceeded to describe their meeting.
“I suppose you have heard of his marriage by this time.”
“No. I heard from Edward Graham, an old friend of mine, that he was going to be married, but that is the latest news I have of him.”
“Oh, well, Payne may have made a mistake. He told me it was coming off in a day or two.”
“As likely as not. He might not think it worth while to send us any notice.”
“The puppy! I beg your pardon, I forgot he was your cousin.”
“You need not apologise on that score. There is not much love lost between us; and as for Elise, I never knew her inclined to be inhospitable to anybody but him.”
“Was she to him?”
“She was heartily glad to see the last of him, and so I suspect were some other people.”
“Mrs. Costello for one. He was more at the Cottage than she seemed to like.”
Maurice hesitated, but could not resist asking a question.
“Was he as much there afterwards as he was before the time I left?”
“More, I think. Look here, Maurice; Elise first put it into my head that he was running after Lucia, but I saw it plainly enough myself afterwards, and I know you saw it too. I think we are old enough friends for me to speak to you on such a subject. Well, my belief is, that before Percy went away, he proposed to Lucia.”
“I don’t know about that. He was really in love with her in his fashion—which is not yours, or mine.”
“Must have refused him, for he went away in a kind of amazed ruefulness, which even you would have pitied.”
Maurice looked the reverse of pitiful for a moment.
“But that is all supposition,” he said.
“Granted. But a supposition founded on pretty close observation. Only mind, I do not say Lucia might not be a little sorry herself. You were away, and a girl does not lose a handsome fellow like Percy, who has been following her about everywhere as if he were her pet dog, without feeling the loss more or less. At least that is my idea.”