Entire PG Edition of The Works of William Dean Howells
William Dean Howells
Part 61 out of 78
at six o'clock the next morning with the doubt still open in her mind.
The judge had not been of the least use to her in helping solve it, and
she had not been able to bring herself to attack Lottie for writing to
Richard. She knew it was Lottie who had made the mischief, but she could
not be sure that it was mischief till she knew its effect upon Ellen.
The girl had been carried in the arms of one of the stewards from the
carriage to her berth in Lottie's room, and there she had lain through
the night, speechless and sleepless.
Ellen did not move or manifest any consciousness when the steamer left
her dock and moved out into the stream, or take any note of the tumult
that always attends a great liner's departure. At breakfast-time her
mother came to her from one of the brief absences she made, in the hope
that at each turn she should find her in a different mood, and asked if
she would not have something to eat.
"I'm not hungry," she answered. "When will it sail?"
"Why, Ellen! We sailed two hours ago, and the pilot has just left us."
Ellen lifted herself on her elbow and stared at her. "And you let me!"
she said, cruelly.
"Ellen! I will not have this!" cried her mother, frantic at the
reproach. "What do you mean by my letting you? You knew that we were
going to sail, didn't you? What else did you suppose we had come to the
"I supposed you would let me stay, if I wanted to: But go away, momma, go
away! You're all against me--you, and poppa, and Lottie, and Boyne. Oh,
dear! oh, dear!" She threw herself down in her berth and covered her
face with the sheet, sobbing, while her mother stood by in an anguish of
pity and anger. She wanted to beat the girl, she wanted to throw herself
upon her, and weep with her in the misery which she shared with her.
Lottie came to the door of the state-room with an arm-load of long-
stemmed roses, the gift of the young Mr. Plumpton, who had not had so
much to be entreated to come down to the steamer and see her off as Boyne
had pretended. "Momma," she said, "I have got to leave these roses in
here, whether Ellen likes it or not. Boyne won't have them in his room,
because he says the man that's with him would have a right to object; and
this is half my room, anyway."
Mrs. Kenton frowned and shook her head, but Ellen answered from under the
sheet, "I don't mind the roses, Lottie. I wish you'd stay with me a
Lottie hesitated, having in mind the breakfast for which the horn had
just sounded. But apparently she felt that one good turn deserved
another, and she answered: "All right; I will, Nell. Momma, you tell
Boyne to hurry, and come to Ellen as soon as he's done, and then I will
go. Don't let anybody take my place."
"I wish," said Ellen, still from under the sheet, "that momma would have
your breakfast sent here. I don't want Boyne."
Women apparently do not require any explanation of these swift
vicissitudes in one another, each knowing probably in herself the nerves
from which they proceed. Mrs. Kenton promptly assented, in spite of the
sulky reluctance which Lottie's blue eyes looked at her; she motioned her
violently to silence, and said: "Yes, I will, Ellen. I will send
breakfast for both of you."
When she was gone, Ellen uncovered her face and asked Lottie to dip a
towel in water and give it to her. As she bathed her eyes she said,
"You don't care, do you, Lottie?"
"Not very much," said Lottie, unsparingly. I can go to lunch, I
"Maybe I'll go to lunch with you," Ellen suggested, as if she were
speaking of some one else.
Lottie wasted neither sympathy nor surprise on the question. "Well,
maybe that would be the best thing. Why don't you come to breakfast?"
"No, I won't go to breakfast. But you go."
When Lottie joined her family in the dining-saloon she carelessly
explained that Ellen had said she wanted to be alone. Before the young
man, who was the only other person besides the Kentons at their table,
her mother could not question her with any hope that the bad would not be
made worse, and so she remained silent. Judge Kenton sat with his eyes
fixed on his plate, where as yet the steward had put no breakfast for
him; Boyne was supporting the dignity of the family in one of those
moments of majesty from which he was so apt to lapse into childish
dependence. Lottie offered him another alternative by absently laying
hold of his napkin on the table.
"That's mine," he said, with husky gloom.
She tossed it back to him with prompt disdain and a deeply eye-lashed
glance at a napkin on her right. The young man who sat next it said,
with a smile, "Perhaps that's yours-unless I've taken my neighbor's."
Lottie gave him a stare, and when she had sufficiently punished him for
his temerity said, rather sweetly, "Oh, thank you," and took the napkin.
"I hope we shall all have use for them before long," the young man
"Well, I should think as much," returned the girl, and this was the
beginning of a conversation which the young man shared successively with
the judge and Mrs. Kenton as opportunity offered. He gave the judge his
card across the table, and when the judge had read on it, "Rev. Hugh
Breckon," he said that his name was Kenton, and he introduced the young
man formally to his family. Mr. Breckon had a clean-shaven face, with an
habitual smile curving into the cheeks from under a long, straight nose;
his chin had a slight whopper-jaw twist that was charming; his gay eyes
were blue, and a full vein came down his forehead between them from his
smooth hair. When he laughed, which was often, his color brightened.
Boyne was named last, and then Mr. Breckon said, with a smile that showed
all his white teeth, "Oh yes, Mr. Boyne and I are friends already--ever
since we found ourselves room-mates," and but for us, as Lottie
afterwards noted, they might never have known Boyne was rooming with him,
and could easily have made all sorts of insulting remarks about Mr.
Breckon in their ignorance.
The possibility seemed to delight Mr. Breckon; he invited her to make all
the insulting remarks she could think of, any way, and professed himself
a loser, so far as her real opinion was withheld from him by reason of
his rashness in giving the facts away. In the electrical progress of
their acquaintance she had begun walking up and down the promenade with
him after they came up from breakfast; her mother had gone to Ellen; the
judge had been made comfortable in his steamer-chair, and Boyne had been
sent about his business.
"I will try to think some up," she promised him, "as soon as I HAVE any
real opinion of you," and he asked her if he might consider that a
She looked at him out of her indomitable blue eyes, and said, "If it
hadn't been for your card, and the Reverend on it, I should have said you
were an actor."
"Well, well," said Mr. Breckon, with a laugh, perhaps I am, in a way.
I oughtn't to be, of course, but if a minister ever forces himself, I
suppose he's acting."
"I don't see," said Lottie, instantly availing herself of the opening,
"how you can get up and pray, Sunday after Sunday, whether you feel like
it or not."
The young man said, with another laugh, but not so gay, "Well, the case
has its difficulties."
"Or perhaps you just read prayers," Lottie sharply conjectured.
"No," he returned, "I haven't that advantage--if you think it one.
I'm a sort of a Unitarian. Very advanced, too, I'm afraid."
"Is that a kind of Universalist?"
"Not--not exactly. There's an old joke--I'm not sure it's very good--
which distinguishes between the sects. It's said that the Universalists
think God is too good to damn them, and the Unitarians think they are too
good to be damned." Lottie shrank a little from him. "Ah!" he cried,
"you think it sounds wicked. Well, I'm sorry. I'm not clerical enough
to joke about serious things."
He looked into her face with a pretended anxiety. "Oh, I don't know,"
she said, with a little scorn. "I guess if you can stand it, I can."
"I'm not sure that I can. I'm afraid it's more in keeping with an
actor's profession than my own. Why," he added, as if to make a
diversion, "should you have thought I was an actor?"
"I suppose because you were clean-shaved; and your pronunciation. So
"Is it? Perhaps I ought to be proud. But I'm not an Englishman. I am a
plain republican American. May I ask if you are English?"
"Oh!" said Lottie. "As if you thought such a thing. We're from Ohio."
Mr. Breckon said, "Ah!" Lottie could not make out in just what sense.
By this time they were leaning on the rail of the promenade, looking over
at what little was left of Long Island, and she said, abruptly: "I think
I will go and see how my father is getting along."
"Oh, do take me with you, Miss Kenton!" Mr: Breckon entreated. "I am
feeling very badly about that poor old joke. I know you don't think well
of me for it, and I wish to report what I've been saying to your father,
and let him judge me. I've heard that it's hard to live up to Ohio
people when you're at your best, and I do hope you'll believe I have not
been quite at my best. Will you let me come with you?"
Lottie did not know whether he was making fun of her or not, but she
said, "Oh, it's a free country," and allowed him to go with her.
His preface made the judge look rather grave; but when he came to the
joke, Kenton laughed and said it was not bad.
"Oh, but that isn't quite the point," said Mr. Breckon. "The question is
whether I am good in repeating it to a young lady who was seeking serious
instruction on a point of theology."
"I don't know what she would have done with the instruction if she had
got it," said the judge, dryly, and the young man ventured in her behalf:
"It would be difficult for any one to manage, perhaps."
"Perhaps," Kenton assented, and Lottie could see that he was thinking
Ellen would know what to do with it.
She resented that, and she was in the offence that girls feel when their
elders make them the subject of comment with their contemporaries.
"Well, I'll leave you to discuss it alone. I'm going to Ellen," she
said, the young man vainly following her a few paces, with apologetic
gurgles of laughter.
"That's right," her father consented, and then he seized the opening to
speak about Ellen. "My eldest daughter is something of an invalid, but I
hope we shall have her on deck before the voyage is over. She is more
interested in those matters than her sister."
"Oh!" Mr. Breckon interpolated, in a note of sympathetic interest. He
could not well do more.
It was enough for Judge Kenton, who launched himself upon the celebration
of Ellen's gifts and qualities with a simple-hearted eagerness which he
afterwards denied when his wife accused him of it, but justified as
wholly safe in view of Mr. Breckon's calling and his obvious delicacy of
mind. It was something that such a person would understand, and Kenton
was sure that he had not unduly praised the girl. A less besotted parent
might have suspected that he had not deeply interested his listener, who
seemed glad of the diversion operated by Boyne's coming to growl upon his
father, "Mother's bringing Ellen up."
"Oh, then, I mustn't keep your chair," said the minister, and he rose
promptly from the place he had taken beside the judge, and got himself
away to the other side of the ship before the judge could frame a fitting
request for him to stay.
"If you had," Mrs. Kenton declared, when he regretted this to her,
"I don't know what I would have done. It's bad enough for him to hear
you bragging about the child without being kept to help take care of her,
or keep her amused, as you call it. I will see that Ellen is kept amused
without calling upon strangers." She intimated that if Kenton did not
act with more self-restraint she should do little less than take Ellen
ashore, and abandon him to the voyage alone. Under the intimidation he
promised not to speak of Ellen again.
At luncheon, where Mr. Breckon again devoted himself to Lottie, he and
Ellen vied in ignoring each other after their introduction, as far as
words went. The girl smiled once or twice at what he was saying to her
sister, and his glance kindled when it detected her smile. He might be
supposed to spare her his conversation in her own interest, she looked so
little able to cope with the exigencies of the talk he kept going.
When he addressed her she answered as if she had not been listening, and
he turned back to Lottie. After luncheon he walked with her, and their
acquaintance made such a swift advance that she was able to ask him if he
laughed that way with everybody.
He laughed, and then he begged her pardon if he had been rude.
"Well, I don't see what there is to laugh at so much. When you ask me a
thing I tell you just what I think, and it seems to set you off in a
perfect gale. Don't you expect people to say what they think?"
"I think it's beautiful," said the young man, going into the gale,
and I've got to expecting it of you, at any rate. But--but it's always
so surprising! It isn't what you expect of people generally, is it?"
"I don't expect it of you," said Lottie.
"No?" asked Mr. Breckon, in another gale. "Am I so uncandid?"
"I don't know about uncandid. But I should say you were slippery."
At this extraordinary criticism the young man looked graver than he had
yet been able to do since the beginning of their acquaintance. He said,
presently, "I wish you would explain what you mean by slippery."
"You're as close as a trap!"
"It makes me tired."
"If you're not too tired now I wish you would say how."
"Oh, you understand well enough. You've got me to say what I think about
all sorts of things, and you haven't expressed your opinion on a single,
Lottie looked fiercely out to sea, turning her face so as to keep him
from peering around into it in the way he had. For that reason, perhaps,
he did not try to do so. He answered, seriously: "I believe you are
partly right. I'm afraid I haven't seemed quite fair. Couldn't you
attribute my closeness to something besides my slipperiness?" He began
to laugh again. "Can't you imagine my being interested in your opinions
so much more than my own that I didn't care to express mine?"
Lottie said, impatiently, "Oh, pshaw!" She had hesitated whether to say,
"But now," he pursued, "if you will suggest some point on which I can
give you an opinion, I promise solemnly to do so," but he was not very
solemn as he spoke.
"Well, then, I will," she said. "Don't yon think it's very strange, to
say the least, for a minister to be always laughing so much?"
Mr. Breckon gave a peal of delight, and answered, "Yes, I certainly do."
He controlled himself so far as to say: "Now I think I've been pretty
open with you, and I wish you'd answer me a question. Will you?"
"Well, I will--one," said Lottie.
"It may be two or three; but I'll begin with one. Why do you think a
minister ought to be more serious than other men?"
"Why? Well, I should think you'd know. You wouldn't laugh at a funeral,
"I've been at some funerals where it would have been a relief to laugh,
and I've wanted to cry at some weddings. But you think it wouldn't do?"
"Of course it wouldn't. I should think you'd know as much as that," said
Lottie, out of patience with him.
"But a minister isn't always marrying or burying people; and in the,
intervals, why shouldn't he be setting them an example of harmless
"He ought to be thinking more about the other world, I should say."
"Well, if he believes there is another world--"
"Why! Don't you?" she broke out on him.
Mr. Breckon ruled himself and continued--"as strenuously and
unquestionably as he ought, he has greater reason than other men for
gayety through his faith in a happier state of being than this. That's
one of the reasons I use against myself when I think of leaving off
laughing. Now, Miss Kenton," he concluded, "for such a close and
slippery nature, I think I've been pretty frank," and he looked round and
down into her face with a burst of laughter that could be heard an the
other side of the ship. He refused to take up any serious topic after
that, and he returned to his former amusement of making her give herself
That night Lottie came to her room with an expression so decisive in her
face that Ellen, following it with vague, dark eyes as it showed itself
in the glass at which her sister stood taking out the first dismantling
hairpins before going to bed, could not fail of something portentous in
"Well," said Lottie, with severe finality, "I haven't got any use for
THAT young man from this time out. Of all the tiresome people, he
certainly takes the cake. You can have him, Ellen, if you want him."
"What's the matter with him?" asked Ellen, with a voice in sympathy with
the slow movement of her large eyes as she lay in her berth, staring at
"There's everything the matter, that oughtn't to be. He's too trivial
for anything: I like a man that's serious about one thing in the
universe, at least, and that's just what Mr. Breckon isn't." She went at
such length into his disabilities that by the time she returned to the
climax with which she started she was ready to clamber into the upper
berth; and as she snapped the electric button at its head she repeated,
"Isn't it getting rough?" asked Ellen. "The ship seems to be tipping."
"Yes, it is," said Lottie, crossly. "Good-night."
If the Rev. Mr. Breckon was making an early breakfast in the hope of
sooner meeting Lottie, who had dismissed him the night before without
encouraging him to believe that she wished ever to see him again, he was
destined to disappointment. The deputation sent to breakfast by the
paradoxical family whose acquaintance he had made on terms of each
forbidding intimacy, did not include the girl who had frankly provoked
his confidence and severely snubbed it. He had left her brother very
sea-sick in their state-room, and her mother was reported by her father
to be feeling the motion too much to venture out. The judge was, in
fact, the only person at table when Breckon sat down; but when he had
accounted for his wife's absence, and confessed that he did not believe
either of his daughters was coming, Ellen gainsaid him by appearing and
advancing quite steadily along the saloon to the place beside him. It
had not gone so far as this in the judge's experience of a neurotic
invalid without his learning to ask her no questions about herself. He
had always a hard task in refraining, but he had grown able to refrain,
and now he merely looked unobtrusively glad to see her, and asked her
where Lottie was.
"Oh, she doesn't want any breakfast, she says. Is momma sick, too?
The judge reported as to her mother, and Mr. Breckon, after the exchange
of a silent salutation with the girl, had a gleeful moment in describing
Boyne's revolt at the steward's notion of gruel. "I'm glad to see you so
well, Miss Kenton," he concluded.
"I suppose I will be sick, too, if it gets rougher," she said, and she
turned from him to give a rather compendious order to the table steward.
"Well, you've got an appetite, Ellen," her father ventured.
"I don't believe I will eat anything," she checked him, with a falling
Breckon came to the aid of the judge. "If you're not sick now, I
prophesy you won't be, Miss Kenton. It can't get much rougher, without
doing something uncommon."
"Is it a storm?" she asked, indifferently.
"It's what they call half a gale, I believe. I don't know how they
She smiled warily in response to his laugh, and said to her father, "Are
you going up after breakfast, poppa?"
"Why, if you want to go, Ellen--"
"Oh, I wasn't asking for that; I am going back to Lottie. But I should
think you would like the air. Won't it do you good?"
"I'm all right," said the judge, cheered by her show of concern for some
one else. "I suppose it's rather wet on deck?" he referred himself to
"Well, not very, if you keep to the leeward. She doesn't seem a very wet
"What is a wet boat" Ellen asked, without lifting her sad eyes.
"Well, really, I'm afraid it's largely a superstition. Passengers like
to believe that some boats are less liable to ship seas--to run into
waves--than others; but I fancy that's to give themselves the air of old
She let the matter lapse so entirely that he supposed she had forgotten
it in all its bearings, when she asked, "Have you been across many
"Not many-four or five."
"This is our first time," she volunteered.
"I hope it won't be your last. I know you will enjoy it." She fell
listless again, and Breckon imagined he had made a break. "Not," he
added, with an endeavor for lightness, "that I suppose you're going for
pleasure altogether. Women, nowadays, are above that, I understand.
They go abroad for art's sake, and to study political economy, and
history, and literature--"
"My daughter," the judge interposed, "will not do much in that way, I
The girl bent her head over her plate and frowned.
"Oh, then," said Breckon, "I will believe that she's going for purely
selfish enjoyment. I should like to be justified in making that my
object by a good example."
Ellen looked up and gave him a look that cut him short in his glad note.
The lifting of her eyelids was like the rise of the curtain upon some
scene of tragedy which was all the more impressive because it seemed
somehow mixed with shame. This poor girl, whom he had pitied as an
invalid, was a sufferer from some spiritual blight more pathetic than
broken health. He pulled his mind away from the conjecture that tempted
it and went on: "One of the advantages of going over the fourth or fifth
time is that you're relieved from a discoverer's duties to Europe. I've
got absolutely nothing before me now, but at first I had to examine every
object of interest on the Continent, and form an opinion about thousands
of objects that had no interest for me. I hope Miss Kenton will take
warning from me."
He had not addressed Ellen directly, and her father answered: "We have no
definite plans as yet, but we don't mean to overwork ourselves even if
we've come for a rest. I don't know," he added, "but we had better spend
our summer in England. It's easier getting about where you know the
The judge seemed to refer his ideas to Breckon for criticism, and the
young man felt authorized to say, "Oh, so many of them know the language
everywhere now, that it's easy getting about in any country."
"Yes, I suppose so," the judge vaguely deferred.
"Which," Ellen demanded of the young man with a nervous suddenness, "do
you think is the most interesting country?"
He found himself answering with equal promptness, "Oh, Italy, of course."
"Can we go to Italy, poppa?" asked the girl.
"I shouldn't advise you to go there at once" Breckon intervened, smiling.
"You'd find it Pretty hot there now. Florence, or Rome, or Naples"--you
can't think of them."
"We have it pretty hot in Central Ohio," said the judge, with latent
pride in his home climate, "What sort of place is Holland?"
"Oh, delightful! And the boat goes right on to Rotterdam, you know."
"Yes. We had arranged to leave it at Boulogne," but we could change.
Do you think your mother would like Holland?" The judge turned to his
"I think she would like Italy better. She's read more about it," said
"Rise of the Dutch Republic," her father suggested.
"Yea, I know. But she's read more about Italy!"
"Oh, well," Breckon yielded, "the Italian lakes wouldn't be impossible.
And you might find Venice fairly comfortable."
"We could go to Italy, then," said the judge to his daughter, "if your
Breckon found the simplicity of this charming, and he tasted a yet finer
pleasure in the duplicity; for he divined that the father was seeking
only to let his daughter have her way in pretending to yield to her
It was plain that the family's life centred, as it ought, about this sad,
sick girl, the heart of whose mystery he perceived, on reflection, he had
not the wish to pluck out. He might come to know it, but he would not
try to know it; if it offered itself he might even try not to know it.
He had sometimes found it more helpful with trouble to be ignorant of its
In the mean time he had seen that these Kentons were sweet, good people,
as he phrased their quality to himself. He had come to terms of
impersonal confidence the night before with Boyne, who had consulted him
upon many more problems and predicaments of life than could have yet
beset any boy's experience, probably with the wish to make provision for
any possible contingency of the future. The admirable principles which
Boyne evolved for his guidance from their conversation were formulated
with a gravity which Breckon could outwardly respect only by stifling his
laughter in his pillow. He rather liked the way Lottie had tried to
weigh him in her balance and found him, as it were, of an imponderable
levity. With his sense of being really very light at most times, and
with most people, he was aware of having been particularly light with
Lottie, of having been slippery, of having, so far as responding to her
frankness was concerned, been close. He relished the unsparing honesty
with which she had denounced him, and though he did not yet know his
outcast condition with relation to her, he could not think of her without
a smile of wholly disinterested liking. He did not know, as a, man of
earlier date would have known, all that the little button in the judge's
lapel meant; but he knew that it meant service in the civil war, a
struggle which he vaguely and impersonally revered, though its details
were of much the same dimness for him as those of the Revolution and the
War of 1812. The modest distrust which had grown upon the bold self-
confidence of Kenton's earlier manhood could not have been more tenderly
and reverently imagined; and Breckon's conjecture of things suffered for
love's sake against sense and conviction in him were his further tribute
to a character which existed, of course, mainly in this conjecture. It
appeared to him that Kenton was held not only in the subjection to his
wife's, judgment, which befalls, and doubtless becomes, a man after many
years of marriage, but that he was in the actual performance of more than
common renunciation of his judgment in deference to the good woman. She
in turn, to be sure, offered herself a sacrifice to the whims of the sick
girl, whose worst whim was having no wish that could be ascertained, and
who now, after two days of her mother's devotion, was cast upon her own
resources by the inconstant barometer. It had become apparent that Miss
Kenton was her father's favorite in a special sense, and that his partial
affection for her was of much older date than her mother's. Not less
charming than her fondness for her father was the openness with which she
disabled his wisdom because of his partiality to her.
When they left the breakfast table the first morning of the rough
weather, Breckon offered to go on deck with Miss Kenton, and put her
where she could see the waves. That had been her shapeless ambition,
dreamily expressed with reference to some time, as they rose. Breckon
asked, "Why not now?" and he promised to place her chair on deck where
she could enjoy the spectacle safe from any seas the boat might ship.
Then she recoiled, and she recoiled the further upon her father's
urgence. At the foot of the gangway she looked wistfully up the reeling
stairs, and said that she saw her shawl and Lottie's among the others
solemnly swaying from the top railing. "Oh, then," Breckon pressed her,
"you could be made comfortable without the least trouble."
"I ought to go and see how Lottie is getting along," she murmured.
Her father said he would see for her, and on this she explicitly
renounced her ambition of going up. "You couldn't do anything," she
"If Miss Lottie is very sea-sick she's beyond all earthly aid," Breckon
ventured. "She'd better be left to the vain ministrations of the
Ellen looked at him in apparent distrust of his piety, if not of his
wisdom. "I don't believe I could get up the stairs," she said.
"Well," he admitted, "they're not as steady as land--going stairs." Her
father discreetly kept silence, and, as no one offered to help her, she
began to climb the crazy steps, with Breckon close behind her in latent
readiness for her fall.
From the top she called down to the judge, "Tell momma I will only stay a
minute." But later, tucked into her chair on the lee of the bulkhead,
with Breckon bracing himself against it beside her, she showed no
impatience to return. "Are they never higher than that" she required of
him, with her wan eyes critically on the infinite procession of the
"They must be," Breckon answered, "if there's any truth in common report.
I've heard of their running mountains high. Perhaps they used rather low
mountains to measure them by. Or the measurements may not have been very
exact. But common report never leaves much to the imagination."
"That was the way at Niagara," the girl assented; and Breckon obligingly
regretted that he had never been there. He thought it in good taste that
she should not tell him he ought to go. She merely said, "I was there
once with poppa," and did not press her advantage. "Do they think," she
asked, "that it's going to be a very long voyage?"
"I haven't been to the smoking-room--that's where most of the thinking is
done on such points; the ship's officers never seem to know about it--
since the weather changed. Should you mind it greatly?"
"I wouldn't care if it never ended," said the girl, with such a note of
dire sincerity that Breckon instantly changed his first mind as to her
words implying a pose. She took any deeper implication from them in
adding, "I didn't know I should like being at sea."
"Well, if you're not sea-sick," he assented, "there are not many
pleasanter things in life."
She suggested, "I suppose I'm not well enough to be sea-sick." Then she
seemed to become aware of something provisional in his attendance, and
she said, "You mustn't stay on my account. I can get down when I want
"Do let me stay," he entreated, "unless you'd really rather not," and as
there was no chair immediately attainable, he crouched on the deck beside
"It makes me think," she said, and he perceived that she meant the sea,
"of the cold-white, heavy plunging foam in 'The Dream of Fair Women.'
The words always seemed drenched!"
"Ah, Tennyson, yes," said Breckon, with a disposition to smile at the
simple-heartedness of the literary allusion. "Do young ladies read
poetry much in Ohio?"
"I don't believe they do," she answered. "Do they anywhere?"
"That's one of the things I should like to know. Is Tennyson your
"I don't believe I have any," said Ellen. "I used to like Whither, and
Emerson; aid Longfellow, too."
"Used to! Don't you now?"
"I don't read them so much now," and she made a pause, behind which he
fancied her secret lurked. But he shrank from knowing it if he might.
"You're all great readers in your family," he suggested, as a polite
"Lottie isn't," she answered, dreamily. "She hates it."
"Ah, I referred more particularly to the others," said Breckon, and he
began to laugh, and then checked himself. "Your mother, and the judge--
and your brother--"
"Boyne reads about insects," she admitted.
"He told me of his collection of cocoons. He seems to be afraid it has
suffered in his absence."
"I'm afraid it has," said Ellen, and then remained silent.
"There!" the young man broke out, pointing seaward. "That's rather a
fine one. Doesn't that realize your idea of something mountains high?
Unless your mountains are very high in Ohio!"
"It is grand. And the gulf between! But we haven't any in our part.
It's all level. Do you believe the tenth wave is larger than the rest?"
"Why, the difficulty is to know which the tenth wave is, or when to begin
"Yes," said the girl, and she added, vaguely: "I suppose it's like
everything else in that. We have to make-believe before we can believe
"Something like an hypothesis certainly seems necessary," Breckon
assented, with a smile for the gravity of their discourse. "We shouldn't
have the atomic theory without it." She did not say anything, and he
decided that the atomic theory was beyond the range of her reading.
He tried to be more concrete. "We have to make-believe in ourselves
before we can believe, don't we? And then we sometimes find we are
wrong!" He laughed, but she asked, with tragical seriousness:
"And what ought you to do when you find out you are mistaken in
"That's what I'm trying to decide," he replied. "Sometimes I feel like
renouncing myself altogether; but usually I give myself another chance.
I dare say if I hadn't been so forbearing I might have agreed with your
sister about my unfitness for the ministry."
"She thinks I laugh too much!"
"I don't see why a minister shouldn't laugh if he feels like it. And if
there's something to laugh at."
"Ah, that's just the point! Is there ever anything to laugh at? If we
looked closely enough at things, oughtn't we rather to cry?" He laughed
in retreat from the serious proposition. "But it wouldn't do to try
making each other cry instead of laugh, would it? I suppose your sister
would rather have me cry."
"I don't believe Lottie thought much about it," said Ellen; and at this
point Mr. Breckon yielded to an impulse.
"I should think I had really been of some use if I had made you laugh,
"You look as if you laughed with your whole heart when you did laugh."
She glanced about, and Breckon decided that she had found him too
personal. "I wonder if I could walk, with the ship tipping so?" she
"Well, not far," said Breckon, with a provisional smile, and then he was
frightened from his irony by her flinging aside her wraps and starting to
her feet. Before he could scramble to his own, she had slid down the
reeling promenade half to the guard, over which she seemed about to
plunge. He hurled himself after her; he could not have done otherwise;
and it was as much in a wild clutch for support as in a purpose to save
her that he caught her in his arms and braced himself against the ship's
slant. "Where are you going? What are you trying to do?" he shouted.
"I wanted to go down-stairs," she protested, clinging to him.
"You were nearer going overboard," he retorted. "You shouldn't have
tried." He had not fully formulated his reproach when the ship righted
herself with a counter-roll and plunge, and they were swung staggering
back together against the bulkhead. The door of the gangway was within
reach, and Breckon laid hold of the rail beside it and put the girl
within. "Are you hurt?" he asked.
"No, no; I'm not hurt," she panted, sinking on the cushioned benching
where usually rows of semi-sea-sick people were lying.
"I thought you might have been bruised against the bulkhead," he said.
"Are you sure you're not hurt that I can't get you anything? From the
steward, I mean?"
"Only help me down-stairs," she answered. "I'm perfectly well," and
Breckon was so willing on these terms to close the incident that he was
not aware of the bruise on his own arm, which afterwards declared itself
in several primitive colors. "Don't tell them," she added. "I want to
come up again."
"Why, certainly not," he consented; but Boyne Kenton, who had been an
involuntary witness of the fact from a point on the forward promenade,
where he had stationed himself to study the habits of the stormy petrel
at a moment so favorable to the acquaintance of the petrel (having left
a seasick bed for the purpose), was of another mind. He had been
alarmed, and, as it appeared in the private interview which he demanded
of his mother, he had been scandalized.
"It is bad enough the way Lottie is always going on with fellows. And
now, if Ellen is going to begin!"
" But, Boyne, child," Mrs. Kenton argued, in an equilibrium between the
wish to laugh at her son and the wish to box his ears, "how could she
help his catching her if he was to save her from pitching overboard?"
"That's just it! He will always think that she did it just so he would
have to catch her."
"I don't believe any one would think that of Ellen," said Mrs. Kenton,
"Momma! You don't know what these Eastern fellows are. There are so few
of them that they're used to having girls throw themselves at them, and
they will think anything, ministers and all. You ought to talk to Ellen,
and caution her. Of course, she isn't like Lottie; but if Lottie's been
behaving her way with Mr. Breckon, he must suppose the rest of the family
is like her."
"Boyne," said his mother, provisionally, "what sort of person is Mr.
"Well, I think he's kind of frivolous."
"Do you, Boyne?"
"I don't suppose he means any harm by it, but I don't like to see a
minister laugh so much. I can't hardly get him to talk seriously about
anything. And I just know he makes fun of Lottie. I don't mean that he
always makes fun with me. He didn't that night at the vaudeville, where
I first saw him."
"What do you mean?"
"Don't you remember? I told you about it last winter."
"And was Mr. Breckon that gentleman?"
"Yes; but he didn't know who I was when we met here."
"Well, upon my word, Boyne, I think you might have told us before," said
his mother, in not very definite vexation. "Go along, now!"
Boyne stood talking to his mother, with his hands, which he had not grown
to, largely planted on the jambs of her state-room door. She was keeping
her berth, not so much because she was sea-sick as because it was the
safest place in the unsteady ship to be in. "Do you want me to send
Ellen to you!"
"I will attend to Ellen, Boyne," his mother snubbed him. "How is
"I can't tell whether she's sick or not. I went to see about her and she
motioned me away, and fairly screamed when I told her she ought to keep
out in the air. Well, I must be going up again myself, or--"
Before lunch, Boyne had experienced the alternative which he did not
express, although his theory and practice of keeping in the open air
ought to have rendered him immune. Breckon saw his shock of hair, and
his large eyes, like Ellen's in their present gloom, looking out of it on
the pillow of the upper berth, when he went to their room to freshen
himself for the luncheon, and found Boyne averse even to serious
conversation: He went to lunch without him. None of the Kentons were at
table, and he had made up his mind to lunch alone when Ellen appeared,
and came wavering down the aisle to the table. He stood up to help her,
but seeing how securely she stayed herself from chair to chair he sank
"Poppy is sick, too, now," she replied, as if to account for being alone.
"And you're none the worse for your little promenade?" The steward came
to Breckon's left shoulder with a dish, and after an effort to serve
himself from it he said, with a slight gasp, "The other side, please."
Ellen looked at him, but did not speak, and he made haste to say: "The
doctor goes so far as to admit that its half a gale. I don't know just
what measure the first officer would have for it. But I congratulate you
on a very typical little storm, Miss Kenton; perfectly safe, but very
decided. A great many people cross the Atlantic without anything half as
satisfactory. There is either too much or too little of this sort of
thing." He went on talking about the weather, and had got such a
distance from the point of beginning that he had cause to repent being
brought back to it when she asked:
"Did the doctor think, you were hurt?"
"Well, perhaps I ought to be more ashamed than I am," said Breckon.
"But I thought I had better make sure. And it's only a bruise--"
"Won't you let ME help you!" she asked, as another dish intervened at his
right. "I hurt you."
Breckon laughed at her solemn face and voice. "If you'll exonerate
yourself first," he answered: "I couldn't touch a morsel that conveyed
confession of the least culpability on your part. Do you consent?
Otherwise, I pass this dish. And really I want some!"
"Well," she sadly consented, and he allowed her to serve his plate.
"More yet, please," he said. "A lot!"
"Is that enough?"
"Well, for the first helping. And don't offer to cut it up for me! My
proud spirit draws the line at cutting up. Besides, a fork will do the
work with goulash."
"Is that what it is?" she asked, but not apparently because she cared to
"Unless you prefer to naturalize it as stew. It seems to have come in
with the Hungarian bands. I suppose you have them in--"
"Tuskingum? No, it is too small. But I heard them at a restaurant in
New York where my brother took us."
"In the spirit of scientific investigation? It's strange how a common
principle seems to pervade both the Hungarian music and cooking--the same
wandering airs and flavors--wild, vague, lawless harmonies in both. Did
you notice it?"
Ellen shook her head. The look of gloom which seemed to Breckon habitual
in it came back into her face, and he had a fantastic temptation to see
how far he could go with her sad consciousness before she should be aware
that he was experimenting upon it. He put this temptation from him, and
was in the enjoyment of a comfortable self-righteousness when it returned
in twofold power upon him with the coming of some cutlets which
capriciously varied the repast.
"Ah, now, Miss Kenton, if you were to take pity on my helplessness!"
"Why, certainly!" She possessed herself of his plate, and began to cut
up the meat for him. "Am I making the bites too small?" she asked, with
an upward glance at him.
"Well, I don't know. Should you think so?" he returned, with a smile
that out-measured the morsels on the plate before her.
She met his laughing eyes with eyes that questioned his honesty, at first
sadly, and then indignantly. She dropped the knife and fork upon the
plate and rose.
"Oh, Miss Kenton!" he penitently entreated.
But she was down the slanting aisle and out of the reeling door before he
could decide what to do.
It seemed to Breckon that he had passed through one of those accessions
of temperament, one of those crises of natural man, to put it in the
terms of an older theology than he professed, that might justify him in
recurring to his original sense of his unfitness for his sacred calling,
as he would hardly ham called it: He had allowed his levity to get the
better of his sympathy, and his love of teasing to overpower that love of
helping which seemed to him his chief right and reason for being a
minister: To play a sort of poor practical joke upon that melancholy girl
(who was also so attractive) was not merely unbecoming to him as a
minister; it was cruel; it was vulgar; it was ungentlemanly. He could
not say less than ungentlemanly, for that seemed to give him the only
pang that did him any good. Her absolute sincerity had made her such an
easy prey that he ought to have shrunk from the shabby temptation in
It is the privilege of a woman, whether she wills it or not, to put a man
who is in the wrong concerning her much further in the wrong than he
could be from his offence. Breckon did not know whether he was suffering
more or less because he was suffering quite hopelessly, but he was sure
that he was suffering justly, and he was rather glad, if anything, that
he must go on suffering. His first impulse had been to go at once to
Judge Kenton and own his wrong, and take the consequences--in fact,
invite them. But Breckon forbore for two reasons: one, that he had
already appeared before the judge with the confession of having possibly
made an unclerical joke to his younger daughter; the other, that the
judge might not consider levity towards the elder so venial; and though
Breckon wished to be both punished and pardoned, in the final analysis,
perhaps, he most wished to be pardoned. Without pardon he could see no
way to repair the wrong he had done. Perhaps he wished even to retrieve
himself in the girl's eyes, or wished for the chance of trying.
Ellen went away to her state-room and sat down on the sofa opposite
Lottie, and she lost herself in a muse in which she was found by the
voice of the sufferer in the berth.
"If you haven't got anything better to do than come in here and stare at
me, I wish you would go somewhere else and stare. I can tell you it
isn't any joke."
"I didn't know I was staring at you," said Ellen, humbly.
"It would be enough to have you rising and sinking there, without your
staring at all: If you're going to stay, I wish you'd lie down. I don't
see why you're so well, anyway, after getting us all to come on this
"I know, I know," Ellen strickenly deprecated. "But I'm not going to
stay. I jest came for my things."
"Is that giggling simpleton sick? I hope he is!"
"Mr. Breckon?" Ellen asked, though she knew whom Lottie meant. "No, he
isn't sick. He was at lunch."
"He was at breakfast."
"She and Boyne are both in bed. I don't know whether they're very sick."
"Well, then, I'll just tell you what, Ellen Kenton!" Lottie sat up in
accusal. "You were staring at something he said; and the first thing we
all know it will be another case of Bittridge!" Ellen winced, but Lottie
had no pity. "You don't know it, because you don't know anything, and
I'm not blaming you; but if you let that simpleton--I don't care if he is
a minister!--go 'round with you when your family are all sick abed,
you'll be having the whole ship to look after you."
"Be still, Lottie!" cried Ellen. "You are awful," and, with a flaming
face, she escaped from the state-room.
She did not know where else to go, and she beat along the sides of the
corridor as far as the dining-saloon. She had a dim notion of trying to
go up into the music-room above, but a glance at the reeling steep of the
stairs forbade. With her wraps on her arm and her sea-cap in her hand,
she stood clinging to the rail-post.
Breckon came out of the saloon. "Oh, Miss Kenton," he humbly entreated,
"don't try to go on deck! It's rougher than ever."
"I was going to the music-room," she faltered.
"Let me help you, then," he said again. They mounted the gangway-steps,
but this time with his hand under her elbow, and his arm alert as before
in a suspended embrace against her falling.
She had lost the initiative of her earlier adventure; she could only
submit herself to his guidance. But he almost outdid her in meekness,
when he got her safely placed in a corner whence she could not be easily
flung upon the floor. "You must have found it very stuffy below; but,
indeed, you'd better not try going out."
"Do you think it isn't safe here?" she asked.
"Oh yes. As long as you keep quiet. May I get you something to read?
They seem to have a pretty good little library."
They both glanced at the case of books; from which the steward-librarian
was setting them the example of reading a volume.
"No, I don't want to read. You musn't let me keep you from it."
"Well, one can read any time. But one hasn't always the chance to say
that one is ashamed. Don't pretend you don't understand, Miss Kenton!
I didn't really mean anything. The temptation to let you exaggerate my
disability was too much for me. Say that you despise me! It would be
such a comfort."
"Weren't you hurt?"
"A little--a little more than a little, but not half so much as I
deserved--not to the point of not being able to cut up my meat. Am I
forgiven? I'll promise to cut up all your meat for you at dinner! Ah,
I'm making it worse!"
"Oh no. Please don't speak of it"
"Could you forbid my thinking of it, too?" He did not wait for her to
answer. "Then here goes! One, two, three, and the thought is banished
forever. Now what shall we speak of, or think of? We finished up the
weather pretty thoroughly this morning. And if you have not the weather
and the ship's run when you're at sea, why, you are at sea. Don't you
think it would be a good plan, when they stick those little flags into
the chart, to show how far we've come in the last twenty-four hours, if
they'd supply a topic for the day? They might have topics inscribed on
the flags-standard topics, that would serve for any voyage. We might
leave port with History--say, personal history; that would pave the way
to a general acquaintance among the passengers. Then Geography, and if
the world is really round, and what keeps the sea from spilling. Then
Politics, and the comparative advantages of monarchical and republican
governments, for international discussion. Then Pathology, and whether
you're usually sea-sick, and if there is any reliable remedy. Then--for
those who are still up--Poetry and Fiction; whether women really like
Kipling, and what kind of novels you prefer. There ought to be about ten
topics. These boats are sometimes very slow. Can't you suggest
something, Miss Kenton? There is no hurry! We've got four to talk over,
for we must bring up the arrears, you know. And now we'll begin with
personal history. Your sister doesn't approve of me, does she?"
"My sister?" Ellen faltered, and, between the conscience to own the fact
and the kindness to deny it, she stopped altogether.
"I needn't have asked. She told me so herself, in almost as many words.
She said I was slippery, and as close as a trap. Miss Kenton! I have
the greatest wish to know whether I affect you as both slippery and
"I don't always know what Lottie means."
"She means what she says; and I feel that I am under condemnation till I
reform. I don't know how to stop being slippery, but I'm determined to
stop being close. Will you tell her that for me? Will you tell her that
you never met an opener, franker person?--of course, except herself!--and
that so far from being light I seemed to you particularly heavy? Say
that I did nothing but talk about myself, and that when you wanted to
talk about yourself you couldn't get in a word edgewise. Do try, now,
Miss Kenton, and see if you can! I don't want you to invent a character
for me, quite."
"Why, there's nothing to say about me," she began in compliance with his
gayety, and then she fell helpless from it.
"Well, then, about Tuskingum. I should like to hear about Tuskingum, so
"I suppose we like it because we've always lived there. You haven't been
much in the West, have you?"
"Not as much as I hope to be." He had found that Western people were
sometimes sensitive concerning their section and were prepared to resent
complacent ignorance of it. "I've always thought it must be very
"It isn't," said the girl. "At least, not like the East. I used to be
provoked when the lecturers said anything like that; but when you've been
to New York you see what they mean."
"The lecturers?" he queried.
"They always stayed at our house when they lectured in Tuskingum."
"Ah! Oh yes," said Breckon, grasping a situation of which he had heard
something, chiefly satirical. "Of course. And is your father--is Judge
Kenton literary? Excuse me!"
"Only in his history. He's writing the history of his regiment; or he
gets the soldiers to write down all they can remember of the war, and
then he puts their stories together."
"How delightful!" said Breckon. "And I suppose it's a great pleasure to
"I don't believe it is," said Ellen. "Poppa doesn't believe in war any
"Indeed!" said Breckon. "That is very interesting."
"Sometimes when I'm helping him with it--"
"Ah, I knew you must help him!"
"And he comes to a place where there has been a dreadful slaughter, it
seems as if he felt worse about it than I did. He isn't sure that it
wasn't all wrong. He thinks all war is wrong now."
"Is he--has he become a follower of Tolstoy?"
"He's read him. He says he's the only man that ever gave a true account
of battles; but he had thought it all out for himself before he read
Tolstoy about fighting. Do you think it is right to revenge an injury?"
"Why, surely not!" said Breckon, rather startled.
"That is what we say," the girl pursued. "But if some one had injured
you--abused your confidence, and--insulted you, what would you do?"
"I'm not sure that I understand," Breckon began. The inquiry was
superficially impersonal, but he reflected that women are never
impersonal, or the sons of women, for that matter, and he suspected an
intimate ground. His suspicions were confirmed when Miss Kenton said:
"It seems easy enough to forgive anything that's done to yourself; but if
it's done to some one else, too, have you the right--isn't it wrong to
let it go?"
"You think the question of justice might come in then? Perhaps it ought.
But what is justice? And where does your duty begin to be divided?"
He saw her following him with alarming intensity, and he shrank from the
responsibility before him. What application might not she make of his
words in the case, whatever it was, which he chose not to imagine?
"To tell you the truth, Miss Kenton, I'm not very clear on that point
--I'm not sure that I'm disinterested."
"Yes; you know that I abused your confidence at luncheon; and until I
know whether the wrong involved any one else--" He looked at her with
hovering laughter in his eyes which took wing at the reproach in hers.
"But if we are to be serious--"
"Oh no," she said, "it isn't a serious matter." But in the helplessness
of her sincerity she could not carry it off lightly, or hide from him
that she was disappointed.
He tried to make talk about other things. She responded vaguely, and
when she had given herself time she said she believed she would go to
Lottie; she was quite sure she could get down the stairs alone. He
pursued her anxiously, politely, and at the head of her corridor took
leave of her with a distinct sense of having merited his dismissal.
"I see what you mean, Lottie," she said, "about Mr. Breckon."
Lottie did not turn her head on the pillow. "Has it taken you the whole
day to find it out?"
The father and the mother had witnessed with tempered satisfaction the
interest which seemed to be growing up between Ellen and the young
minister. By this time they had learned not to expect too much of any
turn she might take; she reverted to a mood as suddenly as she left it.
They could not quite make out Breckon himself; he was at least as great a
puzzle to them as their own child was.
"It seems," said Mrs. Kenton, in their first review of the affair, after
Boyne had done a brother's duty in trying to bring Ellen under their
mother's censure, "that he was the gentleman who discussed the theatre
with Boyne at the vaudeville last winter. Boyne just casually mentioned
it. I was so provoked!"
"I don't see what bearing the fact has," the judge remarked.
"Why, Boyne liked him very much that night, but now he seems to feel very
much as Lottie does about him. He thinks he laughs too much."
"I don't know that there's much harm in that," said the judge. "And I
shouldn't value Boyne's opinion of character very highly."
"I value any one's intuitions--especially children's."
"Boyne's in that middle state where he isn't quite a child. And so is
Lottie, for that matter."
"That is true," their mother assented. "And we ought to be glad of
anything that takes Ellen's mind off herself. If I could only believe
she was forgetting that wretch!"
"Does she ever speak of him?"
"She never hints of him, even. But her mind may be full of him all the
The judge laughed impatiently. "It strikes me that this young Mr.
Breckon hasn't much advantage of Ellen in what Lottie calls closeness!"
"Ellen has always been very reserved. It would have been better for her
if she hadn't. Oh, I scarcely dare to hope anything! Rufus, I feel that
in everything of this kind we are very ignorant and inexperienced."
"Inexperienced!" Renton retorted. "I don't want any more experience of
the kind Ellen has given us."
"I don't mean that. I mean--this Mr. Breckon. I can't tell what
attracts him in the child. She must appear very crude and uncultivated
to him. You needn't resent it so! I know she's read a great deal, and
you've made her think herself intellectual--but the very simple-
heartedness of the way she would show out her reading would make such a
young man see that she wasn't like the girls he was used to. They would
hide their intellectuality, if they had any. It's no use your trying to
fight it Mr. Kenton. We are country people, and he knows it."
"Tuskingum isn't country!" the judge declared.
"It isn't city. And we don't know anything about the world, any of us.
Oh, I suppose we can read and write! But we don't know the a, b, c of
the things he, knows. He, belongs to a kind of society--of people--
in New York that I had glimpses of in the winter, but that I never
imagined before. They made me feel very belated and benighted--as if I
hadn't, read or thought anything. They didn't mean to; but I couldn't
help it, and they couldn't."
"You--you've been frightened out of your propriety by what you've seen in
New York," said her husband.
"I've been frightened, certainly. And I wish you had been, too. I wish
you wouldn't be so conceited about Ellen. It scares me to see you so.
Poor, sick thing, her looks are all gone! You must see that. And she
doesn't dress like the girls he's used to. I know we've got her things
in New York; but she doesn't wear them like a New-Yorker. I hope she
isn't going in for MORE unhappiness!"
At the thought of this the judge's crest fell. "Do you believe she's
getting interested in him?" he asked, humbly.
"No, no; I don't say that. But promise me you won't encourage her in it.
And don't, for pity's sake, brag about her to him."
"No, I won't," said the judge, and he tacitly repented having done so.
The weather had changed, and when he went up from this interview with his
wife in their stateroom he found a good many people strung convalescently
along the promenade on their steamer-chairs. These, so far as they were
women, were of such sick plainness that when he came to Ellen his heart
throbbed with a glad resentment of her mother's aspersion of her health
and beauty. She looked not only very well, and very pretty, but in a gay
red cap and a trig jacket she looked, to her father's uncritical eyes,
very stylish. The glow left his heart at eight of the empty seat beside
"Where is Lottie?" he asked, though it was not Lottie's whereabouts
that interested him.
"Oh, she's walking with Mr. Breckon somewhere," said Ellen.
"Then she's made up her mind to tolerate him, has she?" the father
asked, more lightly than he felt.
Ellen smiled. "That wasn't anything very serious, I guess. At any rate,
she's walking with him."
"What book is that?" he asked, of the volume she was tilting back and
forth under her hand.
She showed it. "One of his. He brought it up to amuse me, he said."
"While he was amusing himself with Lottie," thought the judge, in his
jealousy for her. "It is going the same old way. Well!" What he said
aloud was, "And is it amusing you?"
"I haven't looked at it yet," said the girl. "It's amusing enough to
watch the sea. Oh, poppa! I never thought I should care so much for
"And you're glad we came?"
"I don't want to think about that. I just want to know that I'm here."
She pressed his arm gently, significantly, where he sat provisionally in
the chair beside her, and he was afraid to speak lest he should scare
away the hope her words gave him.
He merely said, "Well, well!" and waited for her to speak further. But
her impulse had exhausted itself, as if her spirit were like one of those
weak forms of life which spend their strength in a quick run or flight,
and then rest to gather force for another. "Where's Boyne?" he asked,
after waiting for her to speak.
"He was here a minute ago. He's been talking with some of the deck
passengers that are going home because they couldn't get on in America.
Doesn't that seem pitiful, poppa? I always thought we had work enough
for the whole world."
"Perhaps these fellows didn't try very hard to find it," said the judge.
"Perhaps," she assented.
"I shouldn't want you to get to thinking that it's all like New York.
Remember how comfortable everybody is in Tuskingum."
"Yes," she said, sadly. "How far off Tuskingum seems!"
"Well, don't forget about it; and remember that wherever life is simplest
and purest and kindest, that is the highest civilization."
"How much like old times it seems to hear you talk that way, poppa!
I should think I was in the library at home. And I made you leave it!"
"Your mother was glad of any excuse. And it will do us all good, if we
take it in the right way," said the judge, with a didactic severity that
did not hide his pang from her.
"Poor poppa!" she said.
He went away, saying that he was going to look Lottie up. His simple
design was to send Lottie to her mother, so that Breckon might come back
to Ellen; but he did not own this to himself.
Lottie returned from another direction with Boyne, and Ellen said,
"Poppa's gone to look for you."
"Has he?" asked Lottie, dropping decisively into her chair. "Well,
there's one thing; I won't call him poppa any more."
"What will you call him?" Boyne demanded, demurely.
"I'll call him father, it you want to know; and I'm going to call momma,
mother. I'm not going to have those English laughing at us, and I won't
say papa and mamma. Everybody that knows anything says father and mother
Boyne kept looking from one sister to another during Lottie's
declaration, and, with his eyes on Ellen, he said, "It's true, Ellen.
All the Plumptons did." He was very serious.
Ellen smiled. "I'm too old to change. I'd rather seem queer in Europe
than when I get back to Tuskingum."
"You wouldn't be queer there a great while," said Lottie. "They'll all
be doing it in a week after I get home."
Upon the encouragement given him by Ellen, Boyne seized the chance of
being of the opposition. "Yes," he taunted Lottie, "and you think
they'll say woman and man, for lady and gentleman, I suppose."
"They will as soon as they know it's the thing."
"Well, I know I won't," said Boyne. "I won't call momma a woman."
"It doesn't matter what you do, Boyne dear," his sister serenely assured
While he stood searching his mind for a suitable retort, a young man, not
apparently many years his senior, came round the corner of the music-
room, and put himself conspicuously in view at a distance from the
"There he is, now," said Boyne. "He wants to be introduced to Lottie."
He referred the question to Ellen, but Lottie answered for her.
"Then why don't you introduce him?"
"Well, I would if he was an American. But you can't tell about these
English." He resumed the dignity he had lost in making the explanation
to Lottie, and ignored her in turning again to Ellen. "What do you
"Oh, don't know about such things, Boyne," she said, shrinking from the
"Well; upon my word!" cried Lottie. "If Ellen can talk by the hour with
that precious Mr. Breckon, and stay up here along with him, when
everybody else is down below sick, I don't think she can have a great
deal to say about a half-grown boy like that being introduced to me."
"He's as old as you are," said Boyne, hotly.
"Oh! I saw him associating with you, and I thought he was a boy, too.
Pardon me!" Lottie turned from giving Boyne his coup-de-grace, to plant
a little stab in Ellen's breast. "To be sure, now Mr. Breckon has found
those friends of his, I suppose he won't want to flirt with Ellen any
"Ah, ha, ha!" Boyne broke in. "Lottie is mad because he stopped to
speak to some ladies he knew. Women, I suppose she'd call them."
"Well, I shouldn't call him a gentleman, anyway," said Lottie.
The pretty, smooth-faced, fresh-faced young fellow whom their varying
debate had kept in abeyance, looked round at them over his shoulder as he
leaned on the rail, and seemed to discover Boyne for the first time. He
came promptly towards the Kentons.
"Now," said Lottie, rapidly, "you'll just HAVE to."
The young fellow touched his cap to the whole group, but he ventured to
address only Boyne.
"Every one seems to be about this morning," he said, with the cheery
"Yes," answered Boyne, with such snubbing coldness that Ellen's heart was
"It's so pleasant," she said, "after that dark weather."
"Isn't it?" cried the young fellow, gratefully. "One doesn't often get
such sunshine as this at sea, you know."
"My sister, Miss Kenton, Mr. Pogis," Boyne solemnly intervened. "And
Miss Lottie Kenton."
The pretty boy bowed to each in turn, but he made no pretence of being
there to talk with Ellen. "Have you been ill, too?" he actively
addressed himself to Lottie.
"No, just mad," she said. "I wasn't very sick, and that made it all the
worse being down in a poky state-room when I wanted to walk."
"And I suppose you've been making up for lost time this morning?"
"Not half," said Lottie.
"Oh, do finish the half with me!"
Lottie instantly rose, and flung her sister the wrap she had been holding
ready to shed from the moment the young man had come up. "Keep that for
me, Nell. Are you good at catching?" she asked him.
"Yes! People," she explained, and at a sudden twist of the ship she made
a clutch at his shoulder.
"Oh! I think I can catch you."
As they moved off together, Boyne said, "Well, upon my word!" but Ellen
did not say anything in comment on Lottie. After a while she asked, "Who
were the ladies that Mr. Breckon met?"
"I didn't hear their names. They were somebody he hadn't seen before
since the ship started. They looked like a young lady and her mother.
It made Lottie mad when he stopped to speak with them, and she wouldn't
wait till he could get through. Ran right away, and made me come, too."
Breckon had not seen the former interest between himself and Ellen lapse
to commonplace acquaintance without due sense of loss. He suffered
justly, but he did not suffer passively, or without several attempts to
regain the higher ground. In spite of these he was aware of being
distinctly kept to the level which he accused himself of having chosen,
by a gentle acquiescence in his choice more fatal than snubbing. The
advances that he made across the table, while he still met Miss Kenton
alone there, did not carry beyond the rack supporting her plate. She
talked on whatever subject he started with that angelic sincerity which
now seemed so far from him, but she started none herself; she did not
appeal to him for his opinion upon any question more psychological than
the barometer; and,
"In a tumultuous privacy of storm,"
he found himself as much estranged from her as if a fair-weather crowd
had surrounded them. He did not believe that she resented the levity he
had shown; but he had reason to fear that she had finally accepted it as
his normal mood, and in her efforts to meet him in it, as if he had no
other, he read a tolerance that was worse than contempt. When he tried
to make her think differently, if that was what she thought of him, he
fancied her rising to the notion he wished to give her, and then
shrinking from it, as if it must bring her the disappointment of some
It was what he had taught her to expect of him, and he had himself to
blame. Now that he had thrown that precious chance away, he might well
have overvalued it. She had certain provincialisms which he could not
ignore. She did not know the right use of will and shall, and would and
should, and she pronounced the letter 'r' with a hard mid-Western twist.
Her voice was weak and thin, and she could not govern it from being at
times a gasp and at times a drawl. She did not dress with the authority
of women who know more of their clothes than the people they buy them of;
she did not carry herself like a pretty girl; she had not the definite
stamp of young-ladyism. Yet she was undoubtedly a lady in every
instinct; she wore with pensive grace the clothes which she had not
subjected to her personal taste; and if she did not carry herself like a
pretty girl, she had a beauty which touched and entreated.
More and more Breckon found himself studying her beauty--her soft, brown
brows, her gentle, dark eyes, a little sunken, and with the lids pinched
by suffering; the cheeks somewhat thin, but not colorless; the long chin,
the clear forehead, and the massed brown hair, that seemed too heavy for
the drooping neck. It was not the modern athletic type; it was rather of
the earlier period, when beauty was associated with the fragility
despised by a tanned and golfing generation. Ellen Kenton's wrists were
thin, and her hands long and narrow. As he looked at her across the
racks during those two days of storm, he had sometimes the wish to take
her long, narrow hands in his, and beg her to believe that he was
worthier her serious friendship than he had shown himself. What he was
sure of at all times now was that he wished to know the secret of that
patient pathos of hers. She was not merely, or primarily, an invalid.
Her family had treated her as an invalid, but, except Lottie, whose rigor
might have been meant sanatively, they treated her more with the
tenderness people use with a wounded spirit; and Breckon fancied moments
of something like humility in her, when she seemed to cower from his
notice. These were not so imaginable after her family took to their
berths and left her alone with him, but the touching mystery remained, a
sort of bewilderment, as he guessed it, a surprise such as a child might
show at some incomprehensible harm. It was this grief which he had
refused not merely to know--he still doubted his right to know it--but to
share; he had denied not only his curiosity but his sympathy, and had
exiled himself to a region where, when her family came back with the fair
weather, he felt himself farther from her than before their acquaintance
He had made an overture to its renewal in the book he lent her, and then
Mrs. Rasmith and her daughter had appeared on deck, and borne down upon
him when he was walking with Lottie Kenton and trying to begin his self-
retrieval through her. She had left him; but they had not, and in the
bonds of a prophet and his followers he found himself bound with them for
much more conversation than he had often held with them ashore. The
parochial duties of an ethical teacher were not strenuous, and Breckon
had not been made to feel them so definitely before. Mrs. Rasmith held
that they now included promising to sit at her table for the rest of the
voyage; but her daughter succeeded in releasing him from the obligation;
and it was she who smilingly detached the clinging hold of the elder
lady. "We mustn't keep Mr. Breckon from his friends, mother," she said,
brightly, and then he said he should like the pleasure of introducing
them, and both of the ladies declared that they would be delighted.
He bowed himself off, and half the ship's-length away he was aware, from
meeting Lottie with her little Englishman, that it was she and not Ellen
whom he was seeking. As the couple paused in whirring past Breckon long
enough to let Lottie make her hat fast against the wind, he heard the
"I say, that sister of yours is a fine girl, isn't she?"
"She's a pretty good--looker," Lottie answered back. "What's the matter
with HER sister?"
"Oh, I say!" her companion returned, in a transport with her slangy
pertness, which Breckon could not altogether refuse to share.
He thought that he ought to condemn it, and he did condemn Mrs. Kenton
for allowing it in one of her daughters, when he came up to her sitting
beside another whom he felt inexpressibly incapable of it. Mrs. Kenton
could have answered his censure, if she had known it, that daughters,
like sons, were not what their mothers but what their environments made
them, and that the same environment sometimes made them different, as he
saw. She could have told him that Lottie, with her slangy pertness, had
the truest and best of the men she knew at her feet, and that Ellen, with
her meekness, had been the prey of the commonest and cheapest spirit in
her world, and so left him to make an inference as creditable to his sex
as he could. But this bold defence was as far from the poor lady as any
spoken reproach was from him. Her daughter had to check in her a
mechanical offer to rise, as if to give Breckon her place, the theory and
practice of Tuskingum being that their elders ought to leave young people
"Don't go, momma," Ellen whispered. "I don't want you to go."
Breckon, when he arrived before them, remained talking on foot, and,
unlike Lottie's company, he talked to the mother. This had happened
before from him, but she had not got used to it, and now she deprecated
in everything but words his polite questions about her sufferings from
the rough weather, and his rejoicing that the worst was probably over.
She ventured the hope that it was so, for she said that Mr. Kenton had
about decided to keep on to Holland, and it seemed to her that they had
had enough of storms. He said he was glad that they were going right on;
and then she modestly recurred to the earlier opinion he had given her
husband that it would be better to spend the rest of the summer in
Holland than to go to Italy, as if she wished to conform herself in the
wisdom of Mr. Kenton's decision. He repeated his conviction, and he said
that if he were in their place he should go to The Hague as soon as they
had seen Rotterdam, and make it their headquarters for the exploration of
the whole country.
"You can't realize how little it is; you can get anywhere in an hour; the
difficulty is to keep inside of Holland when you leave any given point.
I envy you going there."
Mrs. Kenton inferred that he was going to stop in France, but if it were
part of his closeness not to tell, it was part of her pride not to ask.
She relented when he asked if he might get a map of his and prove the
littleness of Holland from it, and in his absence she could not well
avoid saying to Ellen, "He seems very pleasant."
"Yes; why not?" the girl asked.
"I don't know. Lottie is so against him."
"He was very kind when you were all sick."
"Well, you ought to know better than Lottie; you've seen him so much
more." Ellen was silent, and her mother advanced cautiously, "I suppose
he is very cultivated."
"How can I tell? I'm not."
"Why, Ellen, I think you are. Very few girls have read so much."
"Yes, but he wouldn't care if I were cultivated, Ha is like all the rest.
He would like to joke and laugh. Well, I think that is nice, too, and I
wish I could do it. But I never could, and now I can't try. I suppose
he wonders what makes me such a dead weight on you all."
"You know you're not that, Ellen! You musn't let yourself be morbid. It
hurts me to have you say such things."
"Well, I should like to tell him why, and see what he would say."
"Why not? If he is a minister he must have thought about all kinds of
things. Do you suppose he ever knew of a girl before who had been
through what I have? Yes, I would like to know what he would really
"I know what he ought to say! If he knew, he would say that no girl had
ever behaved more angelically."
"Do you think he would? Perhaps he would say that if I hadn't been so
proud and silly--Here he comes! Shall we ask him?"
Breckon approached with his map, and her mother gasped, thinking how
terrible such a thing would be if it could be; Ellen smiled brightly up
at him. "Will you take my chair? And then you can show momma your map.
I am going down," and while he was still protesting she was gone.
"Miss Kenton seems so much better than she did the first day," he said,
as he spread the map out on his knees, and gave Mrs. Kenton one end to
"Yes," the mother assented, as she bent over to look at it.
She followed his explanation with a surface sense, while her nether mind
was full of the worry of the question which Ellen had planted in it.
What would such a man think of what she had been through? Or, rather,
how would he say to her the only things that in Mrs. Kenton's belief he
could say? How could the poor child ever be made to see it in the light
of some mind not colored with her family's affection for her? An
immense, an impossible longing possessed itself of the mother's heart,
which became the more insistent the more frantic it appeared. She
uttered "Yes" and "No" and "Indeed" to what he was saying, but all the
time she was rehearsing Ellen's story in her inner sense. In the end she
remembered so little what had actually passed that her dramatic reverie
seemed the reality, and when she left him she got herself down to her
state-room, giddy with the shame and fear of her imaginary self-betrayal.
She wished to test the enormity, and yet not find it so monstrous, by
submitting the case to her husband, and she could scarcely keep back her
impatience at seeing Ellen instead of her father.
"Momma, what have you been saying to Mr. Breckon about me?"
"Nothing," said Mrs. Kenton, aghast at first, and then astonished to
realize that she was speaking the simple truth. "He said how much better
you were looking; but I don't believe I spoke a single word. We were
looking at the map."
"Very well," Ellen resumed. "I have been thinking it all over, and now I
have made up my mind."
She paused, and her mother asked, tremulously, "About what, Ellen?"
"You know, momma. I see all now. You needn't be afraid that I care
anything about him now," and her mother knew that she meant Bittridge,
"or that I ever shall. That's gone forever. But it's gone," she added,
and her mother quaked inwardly to hear her reason, "because the wrong and
the shame was all for me--for us. That's why I can forgive it, and
forget. If we had done anything, the least thing in the world, to
revenge ourselves, or to hurt him, then--Don't you see, momma?"
"I think I see, Ellen."
"Then I should have to keep thinking about it, and what we had made him
suffer, and whether we hadn't given him some claim. I don't wish ever to
think of him again. You and poppa were so patient and forbearing, all
through; and I thank goodness now for everything you put up with; only I
wish I could have borne everything myself."
"You had enough to bear," Mrs. Kenton said, in tender evasion.
"I'm glad that I had to bear so much, for bearing it is what makes me
free now." She went up to her mother and kissed her, and gazed into her
face with joyful, tearful looks that made her heart sink.
Mrs. Kenton did not rest till she had made sure from Lottie and Boyne
that neither of them had dropped any hint to Ellen of what happened to
Bittridge after his return to Tuskingum. She did not explain to them why
she was so very anxious to know, but only charged them the more solemnly
not to let the secret, which they had all been keeping from Ellen, escape
They promised, but Lottie said, "She's got to know it some time, and I
should think the sooner the better."
"I will be judge of that, Lottie," said her mother, and Boyne seized his
chance of inculpating her with his friend, Mr. Pogis. He said she was
carrying on awfully with him already; and an Englishman could not
understand, and Boyne hinted that he would presume upon her American
"Well, if he does, I'll get you to cowhide him, Boyne," she retorted, and
left him fuming helplessly, while she went to give the young Englishman
an opportunity of resuming the flirtation which her mother had
With her husband Mrs. Kenton found it practicable to be more explicit.
"I haven't had such a load lifted off my heart since I don't know when.
It shows me what I've thought all along: that Ellen hasn't really cared
anything for that miserable thing since he first began going with Mrs.
Uphill a year ago. When he wrote that letter to her in New York she
wanted to be sure she didn't, and when he offered himself and misbehaved
so to both of you, she was afraid that she and you were somehow to blame.
Now she's worked it out that no one else was wronged, and she is
satisfied. It's made her feel free, as she says. But, oh, dear me!"
Mrs. Kenton broke off, "I talk as if there was nothing to bind her; and
yet there is what poor Richard did! What would she say if she knew that?
I have been cautioning Lottie and Boyne, but I know it will come out
somehow. Do you think it's wise to keep it from her? Hadn't we better
tell her? Or shall we wait and see--"
Kenton would not allow to her or to himself that his hopes ran with hers;
love is not business with a man as it is with a woman; he feels it
indecorous and indelicate to count upon it openly, where she thinks it
simply a chance of life, to be considered like another. All that Kenton
would say was, "I see no reason for telling her just yet. She will have
to know in due time. But let her enjoy her freedom now."
"Yes," Mrs. Kenton doubtfully assented.
The judge was thoughtfully silent. Then he said: "Few girls could have
worked out her problem as Ellen has. Think how differently Lottie would
have done it!"
"Lottie has her good points, too," said Mrs. Kenton. "And, of course, I
don't blame Richard. There are all kinds of girls, and Lottie means no
more harm than Ellen does. She's the kind that can't help attracting;
but I always knew that Ellen was attractive, too, if she would only find
it out. And I knew that as soon as anything worth while took up her mind
she would never give that wretch another thought."
Kenton followed her devious ratiocinations to a conclusion which he could
not grasp. "What do you mean, Sarah?"
"If I only," she explained, in terms that did not explain, "felt as sure
of him as I do about him!"
Her husband looked densely at her. "Bittridge?"
"No. Mr. Breckon. He is very nice, Rufus. Yes, he is! He's been
showing me the map of Holland, and we've had a long talk. He isn't the
way we thought--or I did. He is not at all clerical, or worldly. And he
appreciates Ellen. I don't suppose he cares so much for her being
cultivated; I suppose she doesn't seem so to him. But he sees how wise
she is--how good. And he couldn't do that without being good himself!
Rufus! If we could only hope such a thing. But, of course, there are
thousands after him!"
"There are not thousands of Ellens after him," said the judge, before he
could take time to protest. "And I don't want him to suppose that she is
after him at all. If he will only interest her and help her to keep her
mind off herself, it's all I will ask of him. I am not anxious to part
with her, now that she's all ours again."
"Of course," Mrs. Kenton soothingly assented. "And I don't say that she
dreams of him in any such way. She can't help admiring his mind. But
what I mean is that when you see how he appreciates her, you can't help
wishing he could know just how wise, and just how good she is. It did
seem to me as if I would give almost anything to have him know what she
had been through with that--rapscallion!"
"Oh, you may Sarah me! But I can tell you what, Mr. Kenton: I believe
that you could tell him every word of it, and only make him appreciate
her the more. Till you know that about Ellen, you don't know what a
character she is. I just ached to tell him!"
"I don't understand you, my dear," said Kenton. "But if you mean to tell
"Why, who could imagine doing such a thing? Don't you see that it is
impossible? Such a thing would never have come into my head if it hadn't
been for some morbid talk of Ellen's."
"Oh, about wanting to disgust him by telling him why she was such a
burden to us."
"She isn't a burden!"
"I am saying what she said. And it made me think that if such a person
could only know the high-minded way she had found to get out of her
trouble! I would like somebody who is capable of valuing her to value
her in all her preciousness. Wouldn't you be glad if such a man as he is
could know how and why she feels free at last?"
"I don't think it's necessary," said Kenton, haughtily, "There's only one
thing that could give him the right to know it, and we'll wait for that
first. I thought you said that he was frivolous."
"Boyne said that, and Lottie. I took it for granted, till I talked with
him to-day. He is light-hearted and gay; he likes to laugh and joke; but
he can be very serious when he wants to."
"According to all precedent," said the judge, glumly, "such a man ought
to be hanging round Lottie. Everybody was that amounted to anything in
"Oh, in Tuskingum! And who were the men there that amounted to anything?
A lot of young lawyers, and two students of medicine, and some railroad
clerks. There wasn't one that would compare with Mr. Breckon for a
"All the more reason why he can't really care for Ellen. Now see here,
Sarah! You know I don't interfere with you and the children, but I'm
afraid you're in a craze about this young fellow. He's got these friends
of his who have just turned up, and we'll wait and see what he does with
them. I guess he appreciates the young lady as much as he does Ellen."
Mrs. Kenton's heart went down. "She doesn't compare with Ellen!" she
"That's what we think. He may think differently."
Mrs. Kenton was silenced, but all the more she was determined to make
sure that Mr. Breckon was not interested in Miss Rasmith in any measure
or manner detrimental to Ellen. As for Miss Rasmith herself, Mrs. Kenton
would have had greater reason to be anxious about her behavior with Boyne
than Mr. Breckon. From the moment that the minister had made his two
groups of friends acquainted, the young lady had fixed upon Boyne as that
member of the Kenton group who could best repay a more intimate
friendship. She was polite to them all, but to Boyne she was flattering,
and he was too little used to deference from ladies ten years his senior
not to be very sensible of her worth in offering it. To be unremittingly
treated as a grown-up person was an experience so dazzling that his
vision was blinded to any possibilities in the behavior that formed it;
and before the day ended Boyne had possessed Miss Rasmith of all that it
was important for any fellow-being to know of his character and history.
He opened his heart to eyes that had looked into others before his, less
for the sake of exploiting than of informing himself. In the rare
intelligence of Miss Rasmith he had found that serious patience with his
problems which no one else, not Ellen herself, had shown, and after
trying her sincerity the greater part of the day he put it to the supreme
test, one evening, with a book which he had been reading. Boyne's
literature was largely entomological and zoological, but this was a work
of fiction treating of the fortunes of a young American adventurer, who
had turned his military education to account in the service of a German
princess. Her Highness's dominions were not in any map of Europe, and
perhaps it was her condition of political incognito that rendered her the
more fittingly the prey of a passion for the American head of her armies.
Boyne's belief was that this character veiled a real identity, and he
wished to submit to Miss Rasmith the question whether in the exclusive
circles of New York society any young millionaire was known to have taken
service abroad after leaving west Point. He put it in the form of a
scoffing incredulity which it was a comfort to have her take as if almost
hurt by his doubt. She said that such a thing might very well be, and
with rich American girls marrying all sorts of titles abroad, it was not
impossible for some brilliant young fellow to make his way to the steps
of a throne. Boyne declared that she was laughing at him, and she
protested that it was the last thing she should think of doing; she was
too much afraid of him. Then he began to argue against the case supposed
in the romance; he proved from the book itself that the thing could not
happen; such a princess would not be allowed to marry the American, no
matter how rich he was. She owned that she had not heard of just such an
instance, and he might think her very romantic; and perhaps she was; but
if the princess was an absolute princess, such as she was shown in that
story, she held that no power on earth could keep her from marrying the
young American. For herself she did not see, though, how the princess
could be in love with that type of American. If she had been in the
princess's place she should have fancied something quite different. She
made Boyne agree with her that Eastern Americans were all, more or less,
Europeanized, and it stood to reason, she held, that a European princess
would want something as un-European as possible if she was falling in
love to please herself. They had some contention upon the point that the
princess would want a Western American; and then Miss Rasmith, with a
delicate audacity, painted an heroic portrait of Boyne himself which he
could not recognize openly enough to disown; but he perceived
resemblances in it which went to his head when she demurely rose, with a
soft "Good-night, Mr. Kenton. I suppose I mustn't call you Boyne?"
"Oh yes, do!" he entreated. "I'm-I'm not grown up yet, you know."
"Then it will be safe," she sighed. "But I should never have thought of
that. I had got so absorbed in our argument. You are so logical, Mr.
Kenton--Boyne, I mean--thank you. You must get it from your father. How
lovely your sister is!"
"Well, no. I meant the other one. But Miss Kenton is beautiful, too.
You must be so happy together, all of you." She added, with a rueful
smile, "There's only one of me! Good-night."
Boyne did not know whether he ought not in humanity, if not gallantry, to
say he would be a brother to her, but while he stood considering, she put
out a hand to him so covered with rings that he was afraid she had hurt
herself in pressing his so hard, and had left him before he could decide.
Lottie, walking the deck, had not thought of bidding Mr. Pogis good-
night. She had asked him half a dozen times how late it was, and when he
answered, had said as often that she knew better, and she was going below
in another minute. But she stayed, and the flow of her conversation
supplied him with occasion for the remarks of which he seldom varied the
formula. When she said something too audacious for silent emotion, he
called out, "Oh, I say!" If she advanced an opinion too obviously
acceptable, or asked a question upon some point where it seemed to him
there could not be two minds, he was ready with the ironical note, "Well,
rather!" At times she pressed her studies of his character and her
observations on his manner and appearance so far that he was forced to
protest, "You are so personal!" But these moments were rare; for the
most part, "Oh I say!" and "Well, rather!" perfectly covered the
ground. He did not generally mind her parody of his poverty of phrase,
but once, after she had repeated "Well rather!" and "Oh, I say!"
steadily at everything he said for the whole round of the promenade they
were making, he intimated that there were occasions when, in his belief,
a woman's abuse of the freedom generously allowed her sex passed the
point of words.
"And when it passes the point of words" she taunted him, "what do you
"You will see," he said, "if it ever does," and Lottie felt justified by
her inference that he was threatening to kiss her, in answering:
"And if I ever SEE, I will box your ears."
"Oh, I say!" he retorted. "I should like to have you try."
He had ideas of the rightful mastery of a man in all things, which she
promptly pronounced brutal, and when he declared that his father's
conduct towards his wife and children was based upon these ideas, she
affirmed the superiority of her own father's principles and behavior.
Mr. Pogis was too declared an admirer of Judge Kenton to question his
motives or method in anything, and he could only generalize, "The
Americans spoil their women."
"Well, their women are worth it," said Lottie, and after allowing the
paradox time to penetrate his intelligence, he cried out, in a glad
"Oh, I SAY!"
At the moment Boyne's intellectual seance with Miss Rasmith was coming to
an end. Lottie had tacitly invited Mr. Pogis to prolong the comparison
of English and American family life by stopping in front of a couple of
steamer-chairs, and confessing that she was tired to death. They sat
down, and he told her about his mother, whom, although his father's
subordinate, he seemed to be rather fonder of. He had some elder
brothers, most of them in the colonies, and he had himself been out to
America looking at something his father had found for him in Buffalo.
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