Mrs. Costello was pleased that her child should go out a little after her long seclusion from all society; and the whole plan was arranged with little reference to Lucia, who vainly tried to avoid this long absence from her mother.
The two cousins were scarcely on their road when Lady Dighton asked—
“Well, Maurice, am I to reserve my opinion?”
“As you please,” he answered smiling. “I am sure it is not very unfavourable.”
“She is wonderfully beautiful; and, what is most strange, she knows it without being vain.”
“Vain? I should think she was not!”
“What grace she has! With her small head and magnificent hair and eyes, she would have had quite beauty enough for one girl without being so erect and stately. You never gave me the idea that she was so excessively handsome, Maurice.”
“Is she? I don’t believe I knew it. You see I have known her all her life—I know every one of her qualities, I believe, good and bad; and all her ways. I knew she had the purest nature and the warmest, bravest heart a woman could have; but I have thought very little about her beauty by itself.”
“Well, then, let me tell you, she only needs to be seen—she is quite lovely; and as for the rest, I do not know yet, but I am very much inclined to think you may be right. At all events, we are going to be good friends, and by-and-by I shall know all about her.”
Lucia came home late in the evening. Mrs. Costello, resuming her old habits, had sent the servant to bed, and herself admitted her daughter. They went into the drawing-room together to talk over the day’s doings.
“You look very bright,” Mrs. Costello said with her hand on Lucia’s shoulder. “You have enjoyed yourself?”
“Yes, mamma, so much. You know I was a little afraid of Lady Dighton, and dreadfully afraid of Sir John. But they have both been so good to me; just like people at Cacouna who had known me all my life.”
Mrs. Costello smiled. She was very glad this friendship seemed likely to prosper. Yet it was not very wonderful that any one should like Lucia.
“What have you been doing?”
“We went to Versailles, and saw the gardens. We had no time for the Palace; but Maurice is going to take me there another day. Then we came home and had dinner; and where do you think we have been since?”
“To the theatre! Oh, mamma, it was so nice! You know, I never was in one before.”
Lucia clasped her hands, and looked up at her mother with such a perfectly innocent, childish, face of delight, that it was impossible not to laugh.
“What a day of dissipation!”
“Yes; but just for once, you know. And I could not help it.”
“I do not see why you should have wished to help it. How about your French? Could you understand the play?”