Lucia obeyed. She was actually physically tired, as she said, and her head did ache with a dull heavy pain. Mrs. Costello arranged the pillows, drew warm coverings over her, and left her without one further question; for she was completely persuaded of the truth of her own surmise, and feared to endanger Maurice’s hopes and her own favourite plan by an injudicious word. She did not go far away, however, and Lucia, still conscious of her nearness, dared not move or sigh. With her face pressed close to the pillow, she could let the hot tears which seemed to scald her eyes drop from under the half-closed lids; but after a little while, the warmth and stillness and her fatigue began to have their effect. The tears ceased to drop, the one hand which had grasped the edge of the covering relaxed, and she dropped asleep.
By-and-by Mrs. Costello came in softly, and stood looking at her. She lay just like a child with her pale cheeks still wet, and the long black lashes glistening. Her little hand, so slender and finely shaped, rested lightly against the pillow; her soft regular breathing just broke the complete stillness enough to give the aspect of sleep, instead of that of death. She was fair enough, in her sweet girlish beauty and innocence, to have been a poet’s or an artist’s inspiration. The mother’s eyes grew very dim as she looked at her child, but she never guessed that there had been more than the stir of surprise in her heart that day—that she was “sleeping for sorrow.”
It was twilight in the room when Lucia woke. She came slowly to the recollection of the past, and the consciousness of the present, and without moving began to gather up her thoughts and understand what had happened to her, and why she had slept. The door was ajar, and voices could be faintly heard talking in the salon. She even distinguished her mother’s tones, and Lady Dighton’s, but there were no others. It was a relief to her. She thought she ought to get up and go to them, but if Maurice had been there, or even Sir John, she felt that her courage would have failed. She raised herself up, and pushed back her disordered hair; with a hand pressed to each temple, she tried to realize how she had awoke that very morning, hopeful and happy, and that she had had a dreadful loss which was her own—only hers, and could meet with no sympathy from others. But then she remembered that it had met with sympathy already—not much in words, but in tone and look and action—from the one unfailing friend of her whole life. Maurice knew—Maurice did not contemn her—there was a little humiliation in the thought, but more sweetness. She went over the whole scene in the chapel, and for the first time there came into her mind a sense of the inexpressible tenderness which had soothed her as she sat there half stupefied.
“Dear Maurice!” she said to herself, and then as her recollection grew more vivid, a sudden shame seized her—neck and arms and brow were crimson in a moment, with the shock of the new idea—and she sprang up and began to dress, in hopes to escape from it by motion.