All next day they both kept indoors. Lucia tried to persuade her mother to drive out into the country, but even for this Mrs. Costello had not courage. At the same time she seemed to be losing all sense of security in the house. She fancied she had not sufficiently impressed on Father Paul the importance of not betraying her in any way to Bailey. She wished to write and remind him of this, but she dared not lest her note should fall into wrong hands. Then she thought of asking him to visit her, but hesitated also about that till it was too late. In short, was in a perfectly unreasonable and incapable condition—fear had taken such hold of her in her weak state of health that Lucia began to think it would end in nervous fever. With her the dread of Bailey began to be quite lost in apprehension for her mother, and her own affairs had to be put altogether on one side to make room for these new anxieties.
In the afternoon of that day Mrs. Costello suddenly roused herself from a fit of thought.
“We must go somewhere,” she said. “That is certain, whatever else is. As soon as Maurice comes we ought to be prepared to start. Do go, Lucia, and see if there is any packing you can do—without attracting attention, you know.”
“But, mamma,” Lucia objected, “Maurice cannot be here to-day, nor even, I believe, to-morrow, at the very soonest, and I will soon do what there is to do.”
“There is a great deal. And I can’t help you, my poor child. And there ought not to be a moment’s unnecessary delay.”
Lucia had to yield. She began to pack as if all their arrangements were made, though they had no idea either when, or to what end, their wanderings would recommence, nor were able to give a hint to those about them of their intended departure.
Another restless night passed, and another day began. There was the faintest possibility, they calculated, that Maurice, if he started as soon as he received Lucia’s note, might reach them late at night.
It was but the shadow of a chance, for Hunsdon, as they knew, lay at some distance from either post-office or railway station, and the letter might not reach him till this very morning. Yet, since he might come, they must do all they could to be ready. The day was very hot. All the windows were open, and the shutters closed; a drowsy heat and stillness filled the rooms. Mrs. Costello walked about perpetually. She had tried to help Lucia, but had been obliged to leave off and content herself with gathering up, here and there, the things that were in daily use, and bringing them to Lucia to put away. They said very little to each other. Mrs. Costello could think of nothing but Bailey, and she did not dare to talk about him from some fanciful fear of being overheard. Lucia thought of her mother’s health and of Maurice, and Mrs. Costello had no attention to spare for either.
Suddenly, sounding very loud in the stillness, there came the roll of a carriage over the rough stones of the Place. It stopped; there was a moment’s pause, and then a hasty ring at the door-bell. Both mother and daughter paused and listened. There was a quick movement downstairs—a foot which was swifter and lighter than Madame Everaert’s on the staircase—and Maurice at the sitting-room door.