“Do you know where it was that he went?” she asked, after a moment’s pause.
“It was in Canada,” Madame Everaert repeated, “and he lived among the savages; if madame is from Canada, she would know where the savages live.”
“There are very few savages now,” Mrs. Costello answered with a smile. “I know where there used to be some—possibly that was the very place.”
“No doubt. I shall tell the good father that madame knows it.”
“Stay. Don’t be quite sure that it is the place. Canada is a very large country.”
“Still it is so singular that madame should come from there. Father Paul will be delighted.”
Mrs. Costello thought a minute. She was greatly tempted to wish to see this priest who might have known her husband. She need not betray herself to him. For the rest, she had noticed him often, and thought what a good, pleasant face he had—a little too round and rosy perhaps, but very honest and not vulgar. He might be an agreeable visitor, even if he had no other claim on her.
“Do you think,” she said, “that he would mind coming to see me? I should be very glad to receive him.”
“I am sure he would be charmed. He likes so much to talk of Canada.”
“Will you say to him then, please, that I have lived there many years and should be very pleased to have a chat with him about it. I might be able to give him news.”
Madame Everaert was delighted. She went away quite satisfied to find Father Paul at the very earliest opportunity, and to deliver to him with empressement Mrs. Costello’s invitation.
Lucia, meanwhile, took her usual walk. She went quickly along the stony streets and climbed up the grassy side of the rampart. It was all still and solitary, and she sat down where there lay before her a wide stretch of perfectly level country, only broken by the lines of the old fortifications, and bordered by the sea. In the clear morning sunshine, she could distinguish the white foam where the waves broke against the wooden pier, and out on the blue waters there were white shining specks of sails. Ships coming and going, and on the beach moving groups of people—everywhere something that had life and motion and looked on to a future, an object beyond this present moment—everywhere but here with her.
“Oh,” she said to herself, “how wearisome life is! What good to myself or to anybody else is this existence of mine? Am I never either to be good or happy again? Happy, I suppose that does not so much matter—but good? If people are wrong once, can they never get right again? I used to think I should like to be a Sister of Mercy—and now that is all that is left for me, I do not feel any inclination for it. I don’t think I have a vocation even for that.”
And at this point she fell into a lower depth of melancholy—one of those sad moods which, at eighteen, have even a kind of charm in their exaggeration.