Lucia smiled a very miserable kind of smile.
“Yes,” she answered, “it was unfortunate, but it was only a little giddiness.”
And there she broke off to listen to the sound of wheels which stopped at the gate.
It was Maurice; and at the sight of him Lucia felt strong again. She rose and met him as he came towards her.
“I have got a carriage,” he said. “We had walked too far. Can you go to it?”
She could find nothing to say in answer. He made her lean on his arm, and took her across the court and put her into the vehicle.
“Would you rather go alone?” he asked her.
“Oh! no, no,” she cried nervously, and in a minute afterwards they were on their way homewards.
When they had started, she put her hand to her head confusedly.
“Is not it strange?” she said half to herself. “I was sure we should meet in Paris; only I never guessed it would be to-day. Across a grave, that was right.”
Maurice shuddered at her tone; it sounded as if she were talking in her sleep.
“Dear Lucia,” he said, “scold me, be angry with me. I should have told you.”
She seemed to wake at the sound of his voice, and again that burning, painful flush covered her face and neck.
“Oh! Maurice,” she cried, “it is you who should scold me. What must you think? But, indeed, I am not so bad as I seem.”
“It is I who have been blind. I thought you had forgotten him.”
“Forgotten him? So soon? I thought he could not even have forgotten me!”
Maurice clenched his hand. The very simplicity of her words stirred his anger more deeply against his successful rival. For her he had still nothing but the most pitiful tenderness.
“Some men, Lucia, love themselves too well to have any great love for another.”
“But he did care for me. I want to tell you. I want you to see that I am not quite so bad—he did care for me very much, and I sent him away.”
“You refused him?”
“Not just that. At first, you know, I thought everything could be made to come right in time—and then mamma told me all that terrible story about her marriage, and about the constant fear she was in; and then—I could not tell that to him—so I said he must go away. And he did; but he told me perhaps in a year I should change my mind. And the year is not over yet.”
Maurice was silent. He would not, if he could help it, say one word of evil to Lucia about this man whom she still loved; and at first he could not trust himself to speak.
“How did you know?” she asked.
And he understood instinctively what she meant, and told her shortly when and where he had seen Percy, and what he had heard from the solicitor.
“It is the same lady, then,” she said, “that I remember hearing of.”
“Yes, no doubt. I recollect some story being told of him and her, even in Cacouna.”