“We have suffered. And my poor child so innocently, and so bravely. Maurice, she is worth caring for.”
“You shall see whether I value her or not. Here she comes!”
Lucia came in, the glow of pleasure still on her face which Maurice’s arrival had brought there. It was no wonder that both mother and lover looked at her with delight as she moved about, too restlessly happy to sit still, yet pausing every minute to ask some question or to listen to what the others were saying. Indeed not one of the three could well have been happier than they were that afternoon. Mrs. Costello felt that she had done all she could in the cause of prudence, and therefore rejoiced without compunction in seeing her favourite scheme for her darling restored to her more perfect than ever. Maurice, without having more than the minimum quantity of masculine vanity, had great faith in the virtues of perseverance and fidelity, and took the full benefit of Lucia’s delight at seeing him; while Lucia herself was just simply glad—so glad that for an hour or two she quite forgot to think of Percy.
Maurice declared he had business which would keep him in Paris for some weeks. He claimed permission therefore to come every day, and to take Lucia to all the places where Mrs. Costello was not able to go.
“Oh, how charming!” Lucia cried. “I shall get some walks now. Do you know, Maurice, mamma will not let me go anywhere by myself, and I can’t bear to make her walk; but you will go, won’t you?”
“Indeed I will,” Maurice said; but after that he went away back to his hotel, with his first uncomfortable sensation. Was Lucia still really such a child? Would she always persist in thinking of him as an elder brother—a dear brother, certainly, which was something, but not at all what he wanted? How should he make her understand the difference? That very day, her warm frank affection had been a perfect shield to her. The words that had risen to his lips had been stopped there, as absolutely as if he had been struck dumb. ‘But I need not speak just yet,’ he consoled himself. ’I must try to make her feel that I am of use to her, and that she would miss me if she sent me away. My darling! I must not risk anything by being too hasty.’
He wrote two notes that night; one to his father, the other to Lady Dighton, which said,
“Do come over. I am impatient to show Lucia to you. She is more beautiful and sweeter than ever. Of course, you will think all I say exaggerated, so do come and judge for yourself. I want an ally. All is right with Mrs. Costello, but I own I want courage with Lucia to “put it to the test.” Suppose after all I should lose? But I dare not think of that.”