There was little more said. When once Lucia had told her story, and when Mrs. Costello had discovered that Maurice understood all, neither of them cared to talk on the subject. They went to bed with a cloud between them, after all. Mrs. Costello kept her secret still, and pondered over the question whether there might yet possibly be hope, since Maurice had said he had only deferred his wishes, not relinquished them. Lucia was aware that her trouble was still her own exclusively—not shared by any one, even her mother. She thought of Percy—she longed to know how long he had thought of her—how, and why he had changed; and deep down in her heart there was a little disturbed wondering at Maurice’s tenderness—that very tenderness which Mrs. Costello marvelled she did not see.
Maurice did not see his cousin that night. He went straight to his room, and without thinking, locked the door, put out the candles except one, and sat down in the gloom. His eyes and head ached—he felt weary and utterly dispirited. He had rushed away that morning after leaving Lucia at home, and found himself by the merest chance at St. Denis. He had got out there because his fellow-passengers did so, though at the railway station he had taken a ticket for a place much further on along the line. He had looked about the little town, and seen, in a blind blundering kind of way, the Cathedral. He had come out, with about half-a-dozen more visitors, and seeing an omnibus starting for Paris, had got into it, because it would take longer than the train—then after a while had got out again, because he could not bear the slow motion and perpetual babble of talk inside. But through all, and still more in his solitary walk, he had been thinking—thinking perpetually; and, after all, his thinking seemed yet to do. He would go back to England—that was necessary and right, whatever else might be. He was wanted there, as the pile of letters on his writing-table could testify. His father, too, was solitary at Hunsdon—and his business in Paris was over. But the Dightons would not go for some days, and he could not very well leave them after they had come over for his sake. He would have to stay, therefore, till they went; he would have to go on seeing the Costellos. He tried to fancy he was sorry for this, but the attempt was a very poor one. For a few days he would have to go on just as usual, and after that he would go home, and do what? That was just the question.
Ought he to go on hoping now? Had not he done all he could do? Was it probable that a girl who had loved another man—and that man, Percy—faithfully for a whole year on the mere possibility that he might have remained faithful to her, and who had been throughout blind and insensible to a regard deeper and purer than his had ever been, would be able to transfer her heart whole and undivided as he must have it if he had it at all? He dared not think it. “No, I have lost her at last!” he said to himself, “and she is the one only woman in the world.”