After that she dropped asleep, and Lucia watched till early morning. It was the first of such watches she had ever kept, and the awful stillness made her tremble. Often she got up from her seat to see if her mother’s breathing still really went on; it seemed difficult to believe that there was any stir whatever of life in the room. In those long hours, too, she had time to revert to the doings of the past day—to remember both Maurice’s words and her mother’s, and to separate, to some degree, the truth from all exaggeration. Her mind seemed to go back also, with singular clearness, to the time of Percy’s coming to Cacouna, and even earlier. She began to comprehend the significance of trifles, which had seemed insignificant at the time, and to believe in the truth of what Maurice had told her, that even then he was building all his hopes on the possibility of her loving him. She wondered at herself now, as others had wondered at her; but she still justified herself: “He was my brother—my dearest friend. He,” and this time she did not mean Maurice, “was the first person who ever put any other ideas into my head. And I have lost them both.” But already the true love had so far gained its rights, that it was Maurice, far more than Percy, of whose loss she thought. Once that night, when she had sat quite without moving for a long time, and when her meditations had grown more and more dreary, she suddenly raised her hand, and her ring flashed out in the gloom. By some instinct she put it to her lips; it seemed to her a symbol of regard and protecting care, which comforted her strangely.
When the night was past, and Claudine came early in the morning to take Lucia’s place, Mrs. Costello still slept; and the poor child, quite worn out—pale and shivering in the cold dawn—was glad to creep away to bed, and to her heavy but troubled slumber.
All that day the house was kept silent and shut up. Mrs. Costello had been much tried, the doctor thought, and needed a complete calm in which to recover herself. With her old habit of self-command she understood this, and remained still, almost without speaking, till some degree of strength should return. Lucia tended her with the most anxious care, and kept her troubled thoughts wholly to herself.
About two o’clock Lady Dighton came. Hearing that Mrs. Costello was ill, she begged to see Lucia, who came to her, looking weary and worn, but longing to hear of Maurice.
It seemed, however, as if she were not to be gratified. Lady Dighton was full of concern and kind offers of assistance, but she said nothing of her cousin until just as she went away. Then she did say, “You know that Maurice left us yesterday evening? I miss him dreadfully; but I dare say he thinks much more of whether other people miss him.”
She went, and they were alone again. So alone, as they had never been while Maurice was in Paris, when he might come in at any moment and bring a cheerful breath from the outer world into their narrow and feminine life,—as he would never come again! ‘Oh,’ Lucia thought, ’why could not he be our friend always—just our own Maurice as he used to be—and not have these miserable fancies? We might have been so happy!’