Mrs. Costello slept little that night. A second time within a year she saw all her plans destroyed, her anticipations proved mistaken; the brighter destiny she had formerly hoped for, was now within her child’s grasp. Wealth, honour, and steadfast love were laid together at her feet. Would she gather them up? Would she be willing to give herself into the keeping of this faithful heart which had learnt so well “to love one maiden and to cleave to her?” The doubt seemed absurd, yet it came and haunted the mother’s meditations. She knew perfectly that Lucia had no thought of Maurice but as a friend or brother. She could not quite understand how it had always continued so, but she knew it had. She had never been willing to think of her child’s regard for Percy as likely to be a lasting feeling, and at most times she really did consider it only as a thing of the past; yet to-night it came before her tiresomely, and she remembered what Mrs. Bellairs had told her lately about his marriage. She resolved once to ask Maurice whether he had heard anything of it, but, on second thoughts, she decided that it was better to leave the matter alone.
There was yet another person on whom Maurice’s coming had made a most lively impression. Claudine, as soon after her first sight of him as she could get hold of Lucia, had a dozen questions to ask. “Was he Mademoiselle’s brother? Her cousin then? Only a friend? What a charming young man! How tall he was! and what magnifiques yeux bruns! Now, surely, Mademoiselle would not be so triste? She would go out a little? and everybody would remark them, Mademoiselle being so graceful, and monsieur so very tall.”
Lucia told her mother, laughing, that she and Maurice were going to walk up the Champs Elysees next day, with placards, saying that they were two North Americans newly caught; and when Maurice came next morning, she repeated Claudine’s comments to him with a perfect enjoyment of the good little woman’s admiration for “ce beau Monsieur Canadien.”
After that day, Paris became quite a different place to Lucia. Maurice was with them most of every day, and every day they saw something new, or made some little country excursion. The weather, though still rather cold, was fine and bright; winter had fairly given place to spring, and all externally was so gay, sunny and hopeful, that it was quite impossible to give way either to sad recollections of the past, or to melancholy thoughts of the future.
Mrs. Costello’s health seemed steadily, though slowly improving; she had now no anxiety, except that one shadowy doubt of Lucia’s decision with regard to Maurice, and that she was glad to leave for the present in uncertainty. She felt no hesitation in letting the two young people go where they would together; they had always been like brother and sister, and, at the worst, they would still be that.