Mrs. Costello went forward from the doorway where she had been arrested by the sound of his coming; Lucia, kneeling before a trunk in the adjoining room, saw him standing there, and sprang to her feet; he came in glad, eager, impatient to know what they wanted of him; and before any of them had time to think about it, this meeting, so much desired and dreaded, was over.
“But how could you come so soon?” Mrs. Costello asked. “We did not expect you till to-morrow.”
“By the greatest chance. I had been in town for two days. Our station and post-office are at the same place. When they met me at the station, they brought me letters which had just arrived, and yours was among them. So I was able to catch the next train back to London, instead of going home.”
“And which way did you come? The boat is not in yet?”
“By Calais. It was quicker. Now tell me what has happened.”
Mrs. Costello looked carefully to see that the door was shut. Then she told Maurice who and what she feared, and how she could not even leave Bourg-Cailloux without help.
“Yet, I think I ought to leave,” she said.
“Of course you ought,” Maurice answered. “You must go to England.”
“You must go to England,” Maurice said decidedly. “It is an easy journey, and you would be quite safe there.”
“But I ought not to go to England,” Mrs. Costello answered rather uncertainly. “And Bailey might follow us there.”
“I doubt that. By what you say, too, if he were in England, we might perhaps set the police to watch him, which would prevent his annoying you. However, the thing to do is to carry you off before he has any idea you are in Europe at all.”
Lucia stayed long enough to see that the mere presence of Maurice inspired her mother with fresh courage; then she went back to her packing, leaving the door ajar that she might hear their voices. She went on with her work in a strange tumult and confusion. Not a word beyond the first greetings had passed between Maurice and herself, but she could not help feeling as if their positions were somehow changed—and not for the worse.
There had been no words; but just for one second Maurice had held her hand and looked at her very earnestly; whereupon she had felt her cheeks grow very hot, and her eyes go down to the ground as if she were making some confession.
After that he released her, and she went about her occupations. She began to wonder now whether she would have to tell him how sorry she was, or whether enough had been said; and to incline to the last opinion.
Meanwhile she went on busily. In about half an hour she heard Maurice go out, and then Mrs. Costello came to her.
“He is gone to make inquiries,” she said; “you know there is a boat to-night, but then we may not be able to get berths.”