“Tell Mrs. Costello to remember the last talk we had together, and to believe that I am obstinate.”
This postscript, however, Mr. Leigh in his excitement and joy at the prospect of so soon seeing his son, never found out. He read the letter twice over, and then put it away in his desk, without even remembering at the moment, to wonder at Maurice’s continued silence towards his old friends. The thought did strike him afterwards, but he was quite certain that he had read every word of the letter, and was only confirmed in the ideas he had begun to entertain. He sighed over these ideas, and over the loss of Lucia, whom he loved with almost fatherly affection; but still, even she was infinitely less dear to him than Maurice; and if Maurice really did not care for her, why then, sooner than throw the smallest shadow of blame upon him, he would not seem to care for her either.
So Mrs. Costello learned that Maurice was coming, and that he had not thought it worth while to send even a word to his old friends.
“He is the only one,” she thought, “who has changed towards us, and I trusted him most of all.”
And she took refuge from her disappointment in anger. Her disappointment and her anger, however, were both silent; she would not say an ill word to Lucia of Maurice; and Lucia, engrossed in her work and her anticipations, did not perhaps remark that there was any change. She made one attempt to persuade her mother to delay their journey until after Maurice’s arrival, but, being reminded that their passage was taken, she consoled herself with,
“Well, it will be easy enough for him to come to see us. I suppose everybody in England goes to Paris sometimes?”
And so the end came. They had not neglected Maurice’s charge, though Maurice seemed to have forgotten them. Whatever was possible to do to provide for Mr. Leigh’s comfort during his short solitude they had done. The last farewells were said; Mr. Strafford, who had insisted on going with them to New York, had arrived at the Cottage. Mrs. Bellairs and Bella had spent their last day with their friends and gone away in tears. All their life at Cacouna, with its happiness and its sorrow, was over, and early next morning they were to cross the river for the last time, and begin their journey to England.
Maurice had full opportunity for the exercise of patience during the last weeks of his grandfather’s life. It was hard to sit there day after day watching the half-conscious old man, who lay so still and seemed so shut out from human feelings or sympathies, and to feel all the while that any one of those hours of vigil might be the one that stole from him his heart’s desire. Yet there was no alternative. His grandfather, who had received and adopted him, was suffering and solitary, dependent wholly on him for what small gratification he could still enjoy.