“I must find out about the journey,” Mrs. Costello went on. “If it is not a very fatiguing one I believe I shall decide at once. We shall both be the better, in any case, for a little sea air.”
“I shall like it at all events. I have never seen the sea except during our voyage.”
“No. I used to be very fond of it. I believe now, if I could get out to sit on the beach I should grow much stronger.”
“Oh, mamma, you must. What is the name of the place? Here it is—Bourg-Cailloux. When do you think we can go?”
“Not before next week, certainly. Do not make up your mind to that place, for perhaps it may not suit us yet to go there.”
Lucia knelt down, and put her arms softly round her mother’s waist.
“Dear mother,” she said slowly, “I wish you would go back to England.”
Mrs. Costello started. “To England?” she said, “you know quite well that it is impossible.”
“You would be glad to go, mamma.”
“Child, you do not know how glad I should be. To die and be buried among my own people!”
“To go and live among them rather, mamma; Maurice put it into my head that you might.”
She spoke the last sentence timidly; after they had both so avoided Maurice’s name, she half dreaded its effect on her mother. But Mrs. Costello only shook her head sadly.
“Maurice thought of a different return from any that would be possible now. Possibly, if all had been as we wished—both he and I—I might have gone over to a part of England so far from the place I left. Say no more of it, dear,” she added quickly, “let us make the best of what we have, and try to forget what we have not.”
She bent down and kissed her daughter as she spoke. But still these last few sentences had furnished a little fresh bitterness for Lucia’s thoughts. Her mother’s exile might have ended but for her.
Bourg-Cailloux was next day fully decided on for their new residence. From the time of the decision Lucia began to be very busy in preparation for their journey, and for leaving the place where she had been too happy, and too miserable, not to have become attached to it. Claudine, too, had to be left behind with some regret, but they hoped to see Paris again the following year if all should be well. Early one morning they started off once again, a somewhat forlorn pair of travellers, and at three o’clock on a bright afternoon rattled over the rough pavements, on their way to the Hotel des Bains at Bourg-Cailloux.