So the three who had been so happy for the last few weeks sat together, with all their content destroyed. Maurice thought bitterly of the old Canadian days, which had been happy, too, and to which Percy’s coming had brought trouble.
“It is the same thing over again,” he said to himself; “but why such a fellow as that should be allowed to do so much mischief is a problem I can’t solve. A tall idiot, who could not even care for her like a man!”
But he would not allow himself any hard thoughts of Lucia. Perhaps he had had some during his solitary day, but he had no real cause for them, and he was too loyal to find any consolation in blaming her. And it never would have come into his head to solace himself with the “having known me.” He valued his own honest, unaltering love at a reasonable but not an excessive, price—himself at a very low one; and as Lucia understood nothing of the one, he did not wonder that she should slight the other. And yet he was very miserable.
Ten o’clock came at last, and he went away. After he was gone, Lucia came to her mother’s knee, and sat down, resting her aching head against the arm of the chair. The old attitude, and the soft clinging touch, completely thawed the slight displeasure in Mrs. Costello’s heart.
“Something is wrong, darling,” she said. “If you do not want to tell me, or think you ought not, remember I do not ask any questions; but you have never had a secret from me.”
Lucia raised her mother’s hand, and laid it on her forehead.
“I ought to tell you, mamma,” she said, “and I want to; but yet I don’t like.”
“You will be so angry; no, not that, perhaps, but you will be shocked, and yet I could not help it.”
“Help what? Do you know, Lucia, that you are really trying me now?”
“Oh, mamma, no! I am not worth caring so much about.”
“Have you and Maurice quarrelled?”
“Maurice! No, indeed. He is the best friend anybody ever had.”
“What is it, then?”
“Mamma, do you remember what happened that first night at Cacouna?”
“What first night?” Mrs. Costello pressed her hand upon her heart, which began to beat painfully.
“The night when you told me about my father.”
“Yes; I remember. Go on.”
“And the next day?”
“Yes. Don’t tell me that you still regret it.”
“Mamma, I have seen him again.”
“To-day. At the chapel of St. Ferdinand.”
“Did he know you? Did you speak to him?”
“No. He did not see us. He was thinking nothing of me.”
“He ought not to think of you.”
“Nor I of him. He is married.”
“I knew that he either was, or was about to be.”
“You have heard of him, then, since?” Lucia raised her head sharply, and looked at her mother.
“Mrs. Bellairs told me. They had heard it indirectly.”