Entire PG Edition of The Works of William Dean Howells
William Dean Howells
Part 62 out of 78
"You ought to come to Tuskingum," said Lottie.
"Is that a large place?" Mr. Pogis asked. "As large as Buffalo?"
"Well, no," Lottie admitted. "But it's a growing place. And we have the
best kind of times."
"What kind?" The young man easily consented to turn the commercial into
a social inquiry.
"Oh, picnics, and river parties, and buggy-rides, and dances."
"I'm keen on dancing," said Mr. Pogis. "I hope they'll give us a dance
on board. Will you put me down for the first dance?"
"I don't care. Will you send me some flowers? The steward must have
some left in the refrigerator."
"Well, rather! I'll send you a spray, if he's got enough."
"A spray? What's a spray?"
"Oh, I say! My sister always wears one. It's a long chain of flowers
reachin' from your shoulder diagonally down to your waist."
Does your sister always have her sprays sent to her?"
"Well, rather! Don't they send flowers to girls for dances in the
"Well, rather! Didn't I just ask you?"
This was very true, and after a moment of baffle Mr. Pogis said, in
generalization, "If you go with a young lady in a party to the theatre
you send her a box of chocolates."
"Only when you go to theatre! I couldn't get enough, then, unless you
asked me every night," said Lottie, and while Mr. Pogis was trying to
choose between "Oh, I say!" and something specific, like, "I should like
to ask you every night," she added, "And what would happen if you sent a
girl a spray for the theatre and chocolates for a dance? Wouldn't it jar
Now, indeed, there was nothing for him but to answer, "Oh, I say!"
"Well, say, then! Here comes Boyne, and I must go. Well, Boyne," she
called, from the dark nook where she sat, to her brother as he stumbled
near, with his eyes to the stars, "has the old lady retired?"
He gave himself away finely. "What old lady!"
"Well, maybe at your age you don't consider her very old. But I don't
think a boy ought to sit up mooning at his grandmother all night. I know
Miss Rasmith's no relation, if that's what you're going to say!"
"Oh, I say!" Mr. Pogis chuckled. "You are so personal."
"Well, rather!" said Lottie, punishing his presumption. "But I don't
think it's nice for a kid, even if she isn't."
"Kid!" Boyne ground, through his clenched teeth.
By this time Lottie was up out of her chair and beyond repartee in her
flight down the gangway stairs. She left the two youngsters confronted.
"What do you say to a lemon-squash?" asked Mr. Pogis, respecting his
friend's wounded dignity, and ignoring Lottie and her offence.
"I don't care if I do," said Boyne in gloomy acquiescence.
Few witnesses of the fact that Julia Rasmith and her mother had found
themselves on the same steamer with the Rev. Hugh Breckon would have been
of such a simple mind as to think they were there by accident, if they
had also been witnesses of their earlier history. The ladies could have
urged that in returning from California only a few days before the Amstel
sailed, and getting a state-room which had been unexpectedly given up,
they had some claim to a charitable interpretation of their behavior, but
this plea could not have availed them with any connoisseur of women.
Besides, it had been a matter of notoriety among such of Mr. Breckon's
variegated congregation as knew one another that Mrs. Rasmith had set her
heart on him, it Julia had not set her cap for him. In that pied flock,
where every shade and dapple of doubt, from heterodox Jew to agnostic
Christian, foregathered, as it has been said, in the misgiving of a
blessed immortality, the devotion of Mrs. Rasmith to the minister had
been almost a scandal. Nothing had saved the appearance from this
character but Mr. Breckon's open acceptance of her flatteries and
hospitalities; this was so frank, and the behavior of Julia herself so
judicious under the circumstances, that envy and virtue were, if not
equally silenced, equally baffled. So far from pretending not to see her
mother's manoeuvres, Julia invited public recognition of them; in the way
of joking, which she kept within the limits of filial fondness, she made
fun of her mother's infatuation to Breckon himself, and warned him
against the moment when her wiles might be too much for him. Before
other people she did not hesitate to save him from her mother, so that
even those who believed her in the conspiracy owned that no girl could
have managed with more cleverness in a situation where not every one
would have refused to be placed. In this situation Julia Rasmith had the
service of a very clear head, and as was believed by some, a cool heart;
if she and her mother had joint designs upon the minister, hers was the
ambition, and her mother's the affection that prompted them. She was a
long, undulant girl, of a mixed blondness that left you in doubt, after
you had left her, whether her hair or her complexion were not of one
tint; but her features were good, and there could be no question of her
captivating laugh, and her charming mouth, which she was always pulling
down with demure irony. She was like her mother in her looks, but her
indolent, droning temperament must have been from her father, whose
memory was lost in that antiquity which swallows up the record of so many
widows' husbands, and who could not have left her what was left of her
mother's money, for none of it had ever been his. It was still her
mother's, and it was supposed to be the daughter's chief attraction.
There must, therefore, have been a good deal of it, for those who were
harshest with the minister did not believe that a little money would
attract him. Not that they really thought him mercenary; some of his
people considered him gay to the verge of triviality, but there were none
that accused him of insincerity. They would have liked a little more
seriousness in him, especially when they had not much of their own, and
would have had him make up in severity of behavior for what he lacked,
and what they wished him to lack, in austerity of doctrine.
The Amstel had lost so much time in the rough weather of her first days
out that she could not make it up with her old-fashioned single screw.
She was at best a ten-day boat, counting from Sandy Hook to Boulogne, and
she had not been four days out when she promised to break her record for
slowness. Three days later Miss Rasmith said to Breckon, as he took the
chair which her mother agilely abandoned to him beside her: "The head
steward says it will be a twelve-day trip, end our bedroom steward thinks
more. What is the consensus of opinion in the smoking-room? Where are
you going, mother? Are you planning to leave Mr. Breckon and me alone
again? It isn't necessary. We couldn't get away from each other if we
tried, and all we ask--Well, I suppose age must he indulged in its
little fancies," she called after Mrs. Rasmith.
Breckon took up the question she had asked him. "The odds are so heavily
in favor of a fifteen-days' run that there are no takers."
"Now you are joking again," she said. "I thought a sea-voyage might make
"It has been tried before. Besides, it's you that I want to be serious."
"What about? Besides, I doubt it."
"Oh! I thought you were going to say some one else."
"No, I think that is very well settled."
"You'll never persuade my mother," said Miss Rasmith, with a low,
"But if you are satisfied--"
"She will have to resign herself? Well, perhaps. But why do you wish me
to be serious about Boyne?"
"I have no doubt he amuses you. But that doesn't seem a very good reason
why you should amuse yourself with him."
"No? Why not?"
"Well, because the poor boy is in earnest; and you're not exactly--
"Why, how old is Boyne?" she asked, with affected surprise.
"About fifteen, I think," said Breckon, gravely.
"And I'm but a very few months past thirty. I don't see the great
disparity. But he is merely a brother to me--an elder brother--and he
gives me the best kind of advice."
"I dare say you need it, but all the same, I am afraid you are putting
ideas into his head."
"Well, if he began it? If he put them in mine first?"
She was evidently willing that he should go further, and create the
common ground between them that grows up when one gives a reproof and the
other accepts it; but Breckon, whether he thought that he had now done
his duty, and need say no more, or because he was vexed with her, left
"Mrs. Rasmith says you are going to Switzerland for the rest of the
"Yes, to Montreux. Are you going to spend it in Paris?"
"I'm going to Paris to see. I have had some thoughts of Etretat; I have
"I wish that I could go to the sea-side. But this happens to be one of
the summers when nothing but mountains can save my mother's life. Shall
you get down to Rome before you go back?"
"I don't know. If I sail from Naples I shall probably pass through
"You had better stop off. We shall be there in November, and they say
Rome is worth seeing," she laughed demurely. "That is what Boyne
understands. He's promised to use his influence with his family to let
him run down to see us there, if he can't get them all to come. You
might offer to personally conduct them."
"Yes." said Breckon, with the effect of cloture. "Have you made many
acquaintances an board?"
"What! Two lone women? You haven't introduced us to any but the
Kentons. But I dare say they are the best. The judge is a dear, and
Mrs. Kenton is everything that is motherly and matronly. Boyne says she
is very well informed, and knows all about the reigning families. If he
decides to marry into them, she can be of great use in saving him from a
mesalliance. I can't say very much for Miss Lottie. Miss Lottie seems
to me distinctly of the minx type. But that poor, pale girl is adorable.
I wish she liked me!"
"What makes you think she doesn't like you?" Breckon asked.
"What? Women don't require anything to convince them that other women
can't bear them. They simply know it. I wonder what has happened to
"Why do you think anything has happened to her?"
"Why? Well, girls don't have that air of melanholy absence for nothing.
She is brooding upon something, you may be sure. But you have had so
many more opportunities than I! Do you mean that you haven't suspected a
tragical past far her?"
"I don't know," said Breckon, a little restively, "that I have allowed
myself to speculate about her past."
"That is, you oughtn't to have allowed yourself to do so. Well, there I
agree with you. But a woman may do so without impertinence, and I am
sure that Miss Kenton has a story. I have watched her, and her face has
told me everything but the story."
Breckon would not say that some such revelation had been made to him, and
in the absence of an answer from him Miss Rasmith asked, "Is she
"Like her mother."
"Oh! I should say she had read a good dial. And she's bookish, yes, in
a simple-hearted kind of way."
"She asks you if you have read 'the book of the year,' and whether you
don't think the heroine is a beautiful character?"
"Not quite so bad as that. But if you care to be serious about her!"
"Oh, I do!"
"I doubt it. Then, I should say that she seems to have grown up in a
place where the interests are so material that a girl who was disposed to
be thoughtful would be thrown back upon reading for her society more than
in more intellectual centres--if there are such things. She has been so
much with books that she does not feel odd in speaking of them as if they
were the usual topics of conversation. It gives her a certain
"And that is what constitutes her charm?"
"I didn't know that we were speaking of her charm."
"No, that is true. But I was thinking of it. She fascinates me. Are
they going to get off at Boulogne?"
"No, they are going on to Rotterdam."
"To be sure! Boyne told me. And are you going on with them?"
"I thought we talked of my going to Paris." Breckon looked round at her,
and she made a gesture of deprecation.
"Why, of course! How could I forget? But I'm so much interested in Miss
Kenton that I can't think of anything else."
"Not even of Miss Rasmith?"
"Not even of Miss Rasmith. I know that she has a history, and that it's
a sad one." She paused in ironical hesitation. "You've been so good as
to caution me about her brother--and I never can be grateful enough--and
that makes me almost free to suggest--"
She stopped again, and he asked, hardily, "What?"
"Oh, nothing. It isn't for me to remind my pastor, my ghostly adviser"--
she pulled down her mouth and glanced at him demurely--" and I will only
offer the generalization that a girl is never so much in danger of having
her heart broken as when she's had it broken--Oh, are you leaving me?"
she cried, as Breckon rose from his chair.
"Well, then, send Boyne to me." She broke into a laugh as he faltered.
"Are you going to sit down again? That is right. And I won't talk any
more about Miss Kenton."
"I don't mind talking of her," said Breckon. "Perhaps it will even be
well to do so if you are in earnest. Though it strikes me that you have
rather renounced the right to criticise me."
"Now, is that logical? It seems to me that in putting myself in the
attitude of a final friend at the start, and refusing to be anything
more, I leave established my right to criticise you on the firmest basis.
I can't possibly be suspected of interested motives. Besides, you've
just been criticizing me, if you want a woman's reason!"
"Well, go on."
"Why, I had finished. That's the amusing part. I should have supposed
that I could go on forever about Miss Kenton, but I have nothing to go
upon. She has kept her secret very well, and so have the rest of them.
You think I might have got it out of Boyne? Perhaps I might, but you
know I have my little scruples. I don't think it would he quite fair, or
"You are scrupulous. And I give you credit for having been more delicate
than I've been."
"You don't mean you've been trying to find it out!"
"Ah, now I'm not sure about the superior delicacy!"
"Oh, how good!" said Miss Rasmith. "What a pity you should be wasted
in a calling that limits you so much."
"You call it limiting? I didn't know but I had gone too far."
"Not at all! You know there's nothing I like so much as those little
"I had forgotten. Then you won't mind my saying that this surveillance
seems to me rather more than I have any right to from you."
"How exquisitely you put it! Who else could have told me to mind my own
business so delightfully? Well, it isn't my business. I acknowledge
that, and I spoke only because I knew you would be sorry if you had gone
too far. I remembered our promise to be friends."
She threw a touch of real feeling into her tone, and he responded, "Yes,
and I thank you for it, though it isn't easy."
She put out her hand to him, and, as he questioningly took it, she
pressed his with animation. "Of course it isn't! Or it wouldn't be for
any other man. But don't you suppose I appreciate that supreme courage
of yours? There is nobody else-nobody!--who could stand up to an
impertinence and turn it to praise by such humility."
"Don't go too far, or I shall be turning your praise to impertinence by
my humility. You're quite right, though, about the main matter. I
needn't suppose anything so preposterous as you suggest, to feel that
people are best left alone to outlive their troubles, unless they are of
the most obvious kind."
"Now, if I thought I had done anything to stop you from offering that
sort of helpfulness which makes you a blessing to everybody, I should
never forgive myself."
"Nothing so dire as that, I believe. But if you've made me question the
propriety of applying the blessing in all cases, you have done a very
Miss Rasmith was silent and apparently serious. After a moment she said,
"And I, for my part, promise to let poor little Boyne alone."
Breckon laughed. "Don't burlesque it! Besides, I haven't promised
"That is very true," said Miss Rasmith, and she laughed, too.
In one of those dramatic reveries which we all hold with ourselves when
fortune has pressingly placed us, Ellen Kenton had imagined it possible
for her to tell her story to the man who had so gently and truly tried to
be her friend. It was mostly in the way of explaining to him how she was
unworthy of his friendship that the story was told, and she fancied
telling it without being scandalized at violating the conventions that
should have kept her from even dreaming of such a thing. It was all
exalted to a plane where there was no question of fit or unfit in doing
it, but only the occasion; and he would never hear of the unworthiness
which she wished to ascribe to herself. Sometimes he mournfully left her
when she persisted, left her forever, and sometimes he refused, and
retained with her in a sublime kindness, a noble amity, lofty and serene,
which did not seek to become anything else. In this case she would break
from her reveries with self-accusing cries, under her breath, of "Silly,
silly! Oh, how disgusting!" and if at that moment Breckon were really
coming up to sit by her, she would blush to her hair, and wish to run
away, and failing the force for this, would sit cold and blank to his
civilities, and have to be skilfully and gradually talked back to self-
respect and self-tolerance.
The recurrence of these reveries and their consequence in her made it
difficult for him to put in effect the promise he had given himself in
Miss Rasmith's presence. If Ellen had been eager to welcome his coming,
it would have been very simple to keep away from her, but as she appeared
anxious to escape him, and had to be entreated, as it were, to suffer his
society, something better than his curiosity was piqued, though that was
piqued, too. He believed that he saw her lapsing again into that morbid
state from which he had seemed once able to save her, and he could not
help trying again. He was the more bound to do so by the ironical
observance of Miss Rasmith, who had to be defied first, and then
propitiated; certainly, when she saw him apparently breaking faith with
her, she had a right to some sort of explanation, but certainly also she
had no right to a blind and unreasoning submission from him. His
embarrassment was heightened by her interest in Miss Kenton, whom, with
an admirable show of now finding her safe from Breckon's attractions, she
was always wishing to study from his observation. What was she really
like? The girl had a perfect fascination for her; she envied him his
opportunities of knowing her, and his privileges of making that
melancholy face light up with that heart-breaking smile, and of banishing
that delicious shyness with which she always seemed to meet him. Miss
Rasmith had noticed it; how could she help noticing it?
Breckon wished to himself that she had been able to help noticing it, or
were more capable of minding her own business than she showed herself,
and his heart closed about Ellen with a tenderness that was dangerously
indignant. At the same time he felt himself withheld by Miss Rasmith's
witness from being all to the girl that he wished to be, and that he now
seemed to have been in those first days of storm, while Miss Rasmith and
her mother were still keeping their cabin. He foresaw that it would end
in Miss Rasmith's sympathetic nature not being able to withhold itself
from Ellen's need of cheerful companionship, and he was surprised, as
little as he was pleased, one morning, when he came to take the chair
beside her to find Miss Rasmith in it, talking and laughing to the girl,
who perversely showed herself amused. Miss Rasmith made as if to offer
him the seat, but he had to go away disappointed, after standing long
enough before them to be aware that they were suspending some topic while
He naturally supposed the topic to be himself, but it was not so, or at
least not directly so. It was only himself as related to the scolding he
had given Miss Rasmith for trifling with the innocence of Boyne, which
she wished Miss Kenton to understand as the effect of a real affection
for her brother. She loved all boys, and Boyne was simply the most
delightful creature in the world. She went on to explain how delightful
he was, and showed a such an appreciation of the infantile sweetness
mingled with the mature severity of Boyne's character that Ellen could
not help being pleased and won. She told some little stories of Boyne
that threw a light also their home life in Tuskingum, and Miss Rasmith
declared herself perfectly fascinated, and wished that she could go and
live in Tuskingum. She protested that she should not find it dull; Boyne
alone would be entertainment enough; and she figured a circumstance so
idyllic from the hints she had gathered, that Ellen's brow darkened in
silent denial, and Miss Rasmith felt herself, as the children say in the
game, very hot in her proximity to the girl's secret. She would have
liked to know it, but whether she felt that she could know it when she
liked enough, or whether she should not be so safe with Breckon in
knowing it, she veered suddenly away, and said that she was so glad to
have Boyne's family know the peculiar nature of her devotion, which did
not necessarily mean running away with him, though it might come to that.
She supposed she was a little morbid about it from what Mr. Breckon had
been saying; he had a conscience that would break the peace of a whole
community, though he was the greatest possible favorite, not only with
his own congregation, which simply worshipped him, but with the best
society, where he was in constant request.
It was not her fault if she did not overdo these history, but perhaps it
was all true about the number of girls who were ready and willing to
marry him. It might even be true, though she had no direct authority for
saying it, that he had made up his mind never to marry, and that was the
reason why he felt himself so safe in being the nicest sort of friend.
He was safe, Miss Rasmith philosophized, but whether other people were so
safe was a different question. There were girls who were said to be
dying for him; but of course those things were always said about a
handsome young minister. She had frankly taken him on his own ground,
from the beginning, and she believed that this was what he liked. At any
rate, they had agreed that they were never to be anything but the best of
friends, and they always had been.
Mrs. Kenton came and shyly took the chair on Miss Rasmith's other side,
and Miss Rasmith said they had been talking about Mr. Breckon, and she
repeated what she had been saying to Ellen. Mrs. Kenton assented more
openly than Ellen could to her praises, but when she went away, and her
daughter sat passive, without comment or apparent interest, the mother
drew a long, involuntary sigh.
"Do you like her, Ellen?"
"She tries to be pleasant, I think."
"Do you think she really knows much about Mr. Breckon?"
"Oh yes. Why not? She belongs to his church."
"He doesn't seem to me like a person who would have a parcel of girls
tagging after him."
"That is what they do in the East, Boyne says."
"I wish she would let Boyne alone. She is making a fool of the child.
He's round with her every moment. I think she ought to be ashamed, such
an old thing!"
Ellen chose to protest, or thought it fair to do so. "I don't believe
she is doing him any harm. She just lets him talk out, and everybody
else checks him up so. It was nice of her to come and talk with me, when
we had all been keeping away from her. Perhaps he sent her, though. She
says they have always been such good friends because she wouldn't be
anything else from the beginning."
"I don't see why she need have told you that."
"Oh, it was just to show he was run after. I wonder if he thinks we are
running after him? Momma, I am tired of him! I wish he wouldn't speak
to me any more."
"Why! do you really dislike him, Ellen?"
"No, not dislike him. But it tires me to have him trying to amuse me.
Don't you understand?"
Mrs. Kenton said yes, she understood, but she was clear only of the fact
that Ellen seemed flushed and weak at that moment. She believed that it
was Miss Rasmith and not Mr. Breckon who was to blame, but she said:
"Well, you needn't worry about it long. It will only be a day or two now
till we get to Boulogne, and then he will leave us. Hadn't you better go
down now, and rest awhile in your berth? I will bring your things."
Ellen rose, pulling her wraps from her skirts to give them to her mother.
A voice from behind said between their meeting shoulders: "Oh, are you
going down? I was just coming to beg Miss Kenton to take a little walk
with me," and they looked round together and met Breckon's smiling face.
"I'm afraid," Mrs. Kenton began, and then, like a well-trained American
mother, she stopped and left the affair to her daughter.
"Do you think you can get down with them, momma?" the girl asked, and
somehow her mother's heart was lightened by her evasion, not to call it
uncandor. It was at least not morbid, it was at least like other girls,
and Mrs. Kenton imparted what comfort there was in it to the judge, when
he asked where she had left Ellen.
"Not that it's any use," she sighed, when she had seen him share it with
a certain shamefacedness. "That woman has got her grip on him, and she
doesn't mean to let go."
Kenton understood Miss Rasmith by that woman; but he would not allow
himself to be so easily cast down. This was one of the things that
provoked Mrs. Kenton with him; when he had once taken hope he would not
abandon it without reason. "I don't see any evidence of her having her
grip on him. I've noticed him, and he doesn't seem attentive to her.
I should say he tried to avoid her. He certainly doesn't avoid Ellen."
"What are you thinking of, Rufus?"
"What are you? You know we'd both be glad if he fancied her."
"Well, suppose we would? I don't deny it. He is one of the most
agreeable gentlemen I ever saw; one of the kindest and nicest."
"He's more than that," said the judge. "I've been sounding him on
various points, and I don't see where he's wrong. Of course, I don't
know much about his religious persuasion, if it is one, but I think I'm a
pretty fair judge of character, and that young man has character. He
isn't a light person, though he likes joking and laughing, and he
"Yes, so do we. And there's about as much prospect of his marrying her.
Rufus, it's pretty hard! She's just in the mood to be taken with him,
but she won't let herself, because she knows it's of no use. That Miss
Rasmith has been telling her how much he is run after, and I could see
that that settled it for Ellen as plainly as if she said so. More
plainly, for there's enough of the girl in her to make her say one thing
when she means another. She was just saying she was sick of him, and
never wanted to speak to him again, when he came up and asked her to
walk, and she went with him instantly. I knew what she meant. She
wasn't going to let him suppose that anything Miss Rasmith had said was
going to change her."
"Well, then," said the judge, "I don't see what you're scared at."
I'm not SCARED. But, oh, Rufus! It can't come to anything! There isn't
time!" An hysterical hope trembled in her asseveration of despair that
made him smile.
"I guess if time's all that's wanted--"
"He is going to get off at Boulogne."
"Well, we can get off there, too."
"Rufus, if you dare to think of such a thing!"
"I don't. But Europe isn't so big but what he can find us again if he
"Ah, if he wants to!"
Ellen seemed to have let her mother take her languor below along with the
shawls she had given her. Buttoned into a close jacket, and skirted
short for the sea, she pushed against the breeze at Breckon's elbow with
a vigor that made him look his surprise at her. Girl-like, she took it
that something was wrong with her dress, and ran herself over with an
Then he explained: "I was just thinking how much you were like Miss
Lottie-if you'll excuse my being so personal. And it never struck me
"I didn't suppose we looked alike," said Ellen.
"No, certainly. I shouldn't have taken you for sisters. And yet, just
now, I felt that you were like her. You seem so much stronger this
morning--perhaps it's that the voyage is doing you good. Shall you be
sorry to have it end?"
"Shall you? That's the way Lottie would answer."
Breckon laughed. "Yes, it is. I shall be very sorry. I should be
willing to have it rough again, it that would make it longer. I liked
it's being rough. We had it to ourselves." He had not thought how that
sounded, but if it sounded particular, she did not notice it.
She merely said, "I was surprised not to be seasick, too."
"And should you be willing to have it rough again?"
"You wouldn't see anything more of your friends, then."
"Ah, yes; Miss Rasmith. She is a great talker, Did you find her
"She was very interesting."
"Yes? What did she talk about?"
Ellen realized the fact too late to withhold "Why, about you."
"And was that what made her interesting?"
"Now, what would Lottie say to such a thing as that?" asked Ellen,
"Something terribly cutting, I'm afraid. But don't you! From you I
don't want to believe I deserve it, no matter what Miss Rasmith said me."
"Oh, she didn't say anything very bad. Unless you mind being a universal
"Well, it makes a man out rather silly."
"But you can't help that."
"Now you remind me of Miss Lottie again!"
"But I didn't mean that," said Ellen, blushing and laughing. "I hope you
wouldn't think I could be so pert."
"I wouldn't think anything that wasn't to your praise," said Breckon, and
a pause ensued, after which the words he added seemed tame and flat.
"I suspect Miss Rasmith has been idealizing the situation. At any rate,
I shouldn't advise you to trust her report implicitly. I'm at the head
of a society, you know, ethical or sociological, or altruistic, whatever
you choose to call it, which hasn't any very definite object of worship,
and yet meets every Sunday for a sort of worship; and I have to be in the
pulpit. So you see?"
Ellen said, "I think I understand," with a temptation to smile at the
ruefulness of his appeal.
Breckon laughed for her. "That's the mischief and the absurdity of it.
But it isn't so bad as it seems. They're really most of them hard-headed
people; and those that are not couldn't make a fool of a man that nature
hadn't begun with. Still, I'm not very well satisfied with my work among
them--that is, I'm not satisfied with myself." He was talking soberly
enough, and he did not find that she was listening too seriously. "I'm
going away to see whether I shall come back." He looked at her to make
sure that she had taken his meaning, and seemed satisfied that she had.
"I'm not sure that I'm fit for any sort of ministry, and I may find the
winter in England trying to find out. I was at school in England, you
Ellen confessed that she had not known that.
"Yes; I suppose that's what made me seem 'so Englishy' the first day to
Miss Lottie, as she called it. But I'm straight enough American as far
as parentage goes. Do you think you will be in England-later?"
"I don't know. If poppa gets too homesick we will go back in the fall."
"Miss Kenton," said the young man, abruptly, "will you let me tell you
how much I admire and revere your father?"
Tears came into her eyes and her throat swelled. "But you don't know,"
she begun; and then she stopped.
"I have been wanting to submit something to his judgment; but I've been
afraid. I might seem to be fishing for his favor."
"Poppa wouldn't think anything that was unjust," said Ellen, gravely.
"Ah," Breckon laughed, "I suspect that I should rather have him unjust.
I wish you'd tell me what he would think."
"But I don't know what it is," she protested, with a reflected smile.
"I was in hopes Miss Rasmith might have told you. Well, it is simply
this, and you will see that I'm not quite the universal favorite she's
been making you fancy me. There is a rift in my lute, a schism in my
little society, which is so little that I could not have supposed there
was enough of it to break in two. There are some who think their
lecturer--for that's what I amount to--ought to be an older, if not a
graver man. They are in the minority, but they're in the right, I'm
afraid; and that's why I happen to be here telling you all this. It's
a question of whether I ought to go back to New York or stay in London,
where there's been a faint call for me." He saw the girl listening
devoutly, with that flattered look which a serious girl cannot keep out
of her face when a man confides a serious matter to her. "I might safely
promise to be older, but could I keep my word if I promised to be graver?
That's the point. If I were a Calvinist I might hold fast by faith, and
fight it out with that; or if I were a Catholic I could cast myself upon
the strength of the Church, and triumph in spite of temperament. Then it
wouldn't matter whether I was grave or gay; it might be even better if I
were gay. But," he went on, in terms which, doubtless, were not then for
the first time formulated in his mind, "being merely the leader of a sort
of forlorn hope in the Divine Goodness, perhaps I have no right to be so
The note of a sad irony in his words appealed to such indignation for him
in Ellen as she never felt for herself. But she only said, "I don't
believe Poppa could take that in the wrong way if you told him."
Breckon stared. "Yes your father! What would he say?"
"I can't tell you. But I'm sure he would know what you meant."
"And you," he pursued, "what should YOU say?"
"I? I never thought about such a thing. You mustn't ask me, if you're
serious; and if you're not--"
"But I am; I am deeply serious. I would like, to know how the case
strikes you. I shall be so grateful if you will tell me."
"I'm sorry I can't, Mr. Breckon. Why don't you ask poppa?"
"No, I see now I sha'n't be able. I feel too much, after telling you, as
if I had been posing. The reality has gone out of it all. And I'm
"You mustn't be," she said, quietly; and she added, "I suppose it would
be like a kind of defeat if you didn't go back?"
"I shouldn't care for the appearance of defeat," he said, courageously.
"The great question is, whether somebody else wouldn't be of more use in
"Nobody could be," said she, in a sort of impassioned absence, and then
coming to herself, "I mean, they wouldn't think so, I don't believe."
"Then you advise--"
"No, no! I can't; I don't. I'm not fit to have an opinion about such a
thing; it would be crazy. But poppa--"
They were at the door of the gangway, and she slipped within and left
him. His nerves tingled, and there was a glow in his breast. It was
sweet to have surprised that praise from her, though he could not have
said why he should value the praise or a girl of her open ignorance and
inexperience in everything that would have qualified her to judge him.
But he found himself valuing it supremely, and wonderingly wishing to be
worthy of it.
Ellen discovered her father with a book in a distant corner of the
dining-saloon, which he preferred to the deck or the library for his
reading, in such intervals as the stewards, laying and cleaning the
tables, left him unmolested in it. She advanced precipitately upon him,
and stood before him in an excitement which, though he lifted his dazed
eyes to it from his page, he was not entirely aware of till afterwards.
Then he realized that her cheeks were full of color, and her eyes of
light, and that she panted as if she had been running when she spoke.
"Poppa," she said, "there is something that Mr. Breckon wants to speak to
you--to ask you about. He has asked me, but I want you to see him, for I
think he had better tell you himself."
While he still stared at her she was as suddenly gone as she had come,
and he remained with his book, which the meaning had as suddenly left.
There was no meaning in her words, except as he put it into them, and
after he had got it in he struggled with it in a sort of perfunctory
incredulity. It was not impossible; it chiefly seemed so because it
seemed too good to be true; and the more he pondered it the more
possible, if not probable, it became. He could not be safe with it till
he had submitted it to his wife; and he went to her while he was sure of
repeating Ellen's words without varying from them a syllable.
To his astonishment, Mrs. Kenton was instantly convinced. "Why, of
course," she said, "it can't possibly mean anything else. Why should it
be so very surprising? The time hasn't been very long, but they've been
together almost every moment; and he was taken with her from the very
beginning--I could see that. Put on your other coat," she said, as she
dusted the collar of the coat the judge was wearing. "He'll be looking
you up, at once. I can't say that it's unexpected," and she claimed a
prescience in the matter which all her words had hitherto denied.
Kenton did not notice her inconsistency. "If it were not so exactly what
I wished," he said, "I don't know that I should be surprised at it
myself. Sarah, if I had been trying to imagine any one for Ellen, I
couldn't have dreamed of a person better suited to her than this young
man. He's everything that I could wish him to be. I've seen the
pleasure and comfort she took in his way from the first moment. He
seemed to make her forget--Do you suppose she has forgotten that
miserable wretch Do you think--"
"If she hadn't, could she be letting him come to speak to you? I don't
believe she ever really cared for Bittridge--or not after he began
flirting with Mrs. Uphill." She had no shrinking from the names which
Kenton avoided with disgust. "The only question for you is to consider
what you shall say to Mr. Breckon."
"Say to him? Why, of course, if Ellen has made up her mind, there's only
one thing I can say."
"Indeed there is! He ought to know all about that disgusting Bittridge
business, and you have got to tell him."
"Sarah, I couldn't. It is too humiliating. How would it do to refer him
to--You could manage that part so much better. I don't see how I could
keep it from seeming an indelicate betrayal of the poor child--"
"Perhaps she's told him herself," Mrs. Kenton provisionally suggested.
The judge eagerly caught at the notion. "Do you think so? It would be
like her! Ellen would wish him to know everything."
He stopped, and his wife could see that he was trembling with excitement.
"We must find out. I will speak to Ellen--"
"And--you don't think I'd better have the talk with him first?"
"Why, Rufus! You were not going to look him up?"
"No," he hesitated; but she could see that some such thing had been on
"Surely," she said, "you must be crazy!" But she had not the heart to
blight his joy with sarcasm, and perhaps no sarcasm would have blighted
"I merely wondered what I had better say in case he spoke to me before
you saw Ellen--that's all. Sarah! I couldn't have believed that
anything could please me so much. But it does seem as if it were the
assurance of Ellen's happiness; and she has deserved it, poor child! If
ever there was a dutiful and loving daughter--at least before that
wretched affair--she was one."
"She has been a good girl," Mrs. Kenton stoically admitted.
"And they are very well matched. Ellen is a cultivated woman. He never
could have cause to blush for her, either her mind or her manners, in any
circle of society; she would do him credit under any and all
circumstances. If it were Lottie--"
"Lottie is all right," said her mother, in resentment of his preference;
but she could not help smiling at it. "Don't you be foolish about Ellen.
I approve of Mr. Breckon as much as you do. But it's her prettiness and
sweetness that's taken his fancy, and not her wisdom, if she's got him."
"If she's got him?"
"Well, you know what I mean. I'm not saying she hasn't. Dear knows, I
don't want to! I feel just as you do about it. I think it's the
greatest piece of good fortune, coming on top of all our trouble with
her. I couldn't have imagined such a thing."
He was instantly appeased. "Are you going to speak with Ellen" he
"I will see. There's no especial hurry, is there?"
"Only, if he should happen to meet me--"
"You can keep out of his way, I reckon. Or You can put him off,
"Yes," Kenton returned, doubtfully. "Don't," he added, "be too blunt
with Ellen. You know she didn't say anything explicit to me."
"I think I will know how to manage, Mr. Kenton."
"Yes, of course, Sarah. I'm not saying that."
Breckon did not apparently try to find the judge before lunch, and at
table he did not seem especially devoted to Ellen in her father's jealous
eyes. He joked Lottie, and exchanged those passages or repartee with her
in which she did not mind using a bludgeon when she had not a rapier at
hand; it is doubtful if she was very sensible of the difference. Ellen
sat by in passive content, smiling now and then, and Boyne carried on a
dignified conversation with Mr. Pogis, whom he had asked to lunch at his
table, and who listened with one ear to the vigorous retorts of Lottie in
her combat with Breckon.
The judge witnessed it all with a grave displeasure, more and more
painfully apparent to his wife. She could see the impatience, the
gathering misgiving, in his face, and she perceived that she must not let
this come to conscious dissatisfaction with Breckon; she knew her husband
capable of indignation with trifling which would complicate the
situation, if it came to that. She decided to speak with Ellen as soon
as possible, and she meant to follow her to her state-room when they left
the table. But fate assorted the pieces in the game differently. Boyne
walked over to the place where Miss Rasmith was sitting with her mother;
Lottie and Mr. Pogis went off to practise duets together, terrible, four-
-handed torments under which the piano presently clamored; and Ellen
stood for a moment talked to by Mr. Breckon, who challenged her then for
a walk on deck, and with whom she went away smiling.
Mrs. Kenton appealed with the reflection of the girl's happiness in her
face to the frowning censure in her husband's; but Kenton spoke first.
"What does he mean?" he demanded, darkly. "If he is making a fool of
her he'll find that that game can't be played twice, with impunity.
Sarah, I believe I should choke him."
"Mr. Kenton!" she gasped, and she trembled in fear of him, even while
she kept herself with difficulty from shaking him for his folly. "Don't
say such a thing! Can't you see that they want to talk it over? If he
hasn't spoken to you it's because he wants to know how you took what she
said." Seeing the effect of these arguments, she pursued: "Will you
never have any sense? I will speak to Ellen the very minute I get her
alone, and you have just got to wait. Don't you suppose it's hard for
me, too? Have I got nothing to bear?"
Kenton went silently back to his book, which he took with him to the
reading-room, where from time to time his wife came to him and reported
that Ellen and Breckon were still walking up and down together, or that
they were sitting down talking, or were forward, looking over at the
prow, or were watching the deck-passengers dancing. Her husband received
her successive advices with relaxing interest, and when she had brought
the last she was aware that the affair was entirely in her hands with all
the responsibility. After the gay parting between Ellen and Breckon,
which took place late in the afternoon, she suffered an interval to
elapse before she followed the girl down to her state-room. She found
her lying in her berth, with shining eyes and glad, red cheeks; she was
smiling to herself.
"That is right, Ellen," her mother said. "You need rest after your long
"I'm not tired. We were sitting down a good deal. I didn't think how
late it was. I'm ever so much better. Where's Lottie?"
"Off somewhere with that young Englishman," said Mrs. Kenton, as if that
were of no sort of consequence. "Ellen," she added, abruptly, trying
within a tremulous smile to hide her eagerness, "what is this that Mr.
Breckon wants to talk with your father about?"
"Mr. Breckon? With poppa?"
"Yes, certainly. You told him this morning that Mr. Breckon--"
"Oh! Oh yes!" said Ellen, as if recollecting something that had slipped
her mind. "He wants poppa to advise him whether to go back to his
congregation in New York or not."
Mrs. Kenton sat in the corner of the sofa next the door, looking into the
girl's face on the pillow as she lay with her arms under her head. Tears
of defeat and shame came into her eyes, and she could not see the girl's
light nonchalance in adding:
"But he hasn't got up his courage yet. He thinks he'll ask him after
dinner. He says he doesn't want poppa to think he's posing. I don't
know what he means."
Mrs. Kenton did not speak at once. Her bitterest mortification was not
for herself, but for the simple and tender father-soul which had been so
tried already. She did not know how he would bear it, the
disappointment, and the cruel hurt to his pride. But she wanted to fall
on her knees in thankfulness that he had betrayed himself only to her.
She started in sudden alarm with the thought. "Where is he now--
"He's gone with Boyne down into the baggage-room."
Mrs. Kenton sank back in her corner, aware now that she would not have
had the strength to go to her husband even to save him from the awful
disgrace of giving himself away to Breckon. "And was that all?" she
"That he wanted to speak to your father about?"
She must make irrefragably sure, for Kenton's sake, that she was not
"Why, of course! What else? Why, momma! what are you crying about?"
"I'm not crying, child. Just some foolishness of your father's. He
understood--he thought--" Mrs. Kenton began to laugh hysterically. "But
you know how ridiculous he is; and he supposed--No, I won't tell you!"
It was not necessary. The girl's mind, perhaps because it was imbued
already with the subject, had possessed itself of what filled her
mother's. She dropped from the elbow on which she had lifted herself,
and turned her face into the pillow, with a long wail of shame.
Mrs. Kenton's difficulties in setting her husband right were indefinitely
heightened by the suspicion that the most unsuspicious of men fell into
concerning Breckon. Did Breckon suppose that the matter could be turned
off in that way? he stupidly demanded; and when he was extricated from
this error by his wife's representation that Breckon had not changed at
all, but had never told Ellen that he wished to speak with him of
anything but his returning to his society, Kenton still could not accept
the fact. He would have contended that at least the other matter must
have been in Breckon's mind; and when he was beaten from this position,
and convinced that the meaning they had taken from Ellen's words had
never been in any mind but their own, he fell into humiliation so abject
that he could hide it only by the hauteur with which he carried himself
towards Breckon when they met at dinner. He would scarcely speak to the
young man; Ellen did not come to the table; Lottie and Boyne and their
friend Mr. Pogis were dining with the Rasmiths, and Mrs. Kenton had to
be, as she felt, cringingly kind to Breckon in explaining just the sort
of temporary headache that kept her eldest daughter away. He was more
than ordinarily sympathetic and polite, but he was manifestly bewildered
by Kenton's behavior. He refused an hilarious invitation from Mrs.
Rasmith, when he rose from table, to stop and have his coffee with her on
his way out of the saloon. His old adorer explained that she had ordered
a small bottle of champagne in honor of its being the night before they
were to get into Boulogne, and that he ought to sit down and help her
keep the young people straight. Julia, she brokenly syllabled, with the
gay beverage bubbling back into her throat, was not the least use; she
was worse than any. Julia did not look it, in the demure regard which
she bent upon her amusing mother, and Breckon persisted in refusing. He
said he thought he might safely leave them to Boyne, and Mrs. Rasmith
said into her handkerchief, "Oh yes! Boyne!" and pressed Boyne's sleeve
with her knobbed and jewelled fingers.
It was evident where most of the small bottle had gone, but Breckon was
none the cheerfuller for the spectacle of Mrs. Rasmith. He could not
have a moment's doubt as to the sort of work he had been doing in New
York if she were an effect of it, and he turned his mind from the sad
certainty back to the more important inquiry as to what offence his wish
to advise with Judge Kenton could have conveyed. Ellen had told him in
the afternoon that she had spoken with her father about it, and she had
not intimated any displeasure or reluctance on him; but apparently he had
decided not to suffer himself to be approached.
It might be as well. Breckon had not been able to convince himself that
his proposal to consult Judge Kenton was not a pose. He had flashes of
owning that it was contemplated merely as a means of ingratiating himself
with Ellen. Now, as he found his way up and down among the empty
steamer-chairs, he was aware, at the bottom of his heart, of not caring
in the least for Judge Kenton's repellent bearing, except as it possibly,
or impossibly, reflected some mood of hers. He could not make out her
not coming to dinner; the headache was clearly an excuse; for some reason
she did not wish to see him, he argued, with the egotism of his
The logic of his conclusion was strengthened at breakfast by her
continued absence; and this time Mrs. Kenton made no apologies for her.
The judge was a shade less severe; or else Breckon did not put himself so
much in the way to be withheld as he had the night before. Boyne and
Lottie carried on a sort of muted scrap, unrebuked by their mother, who
seemed too much distracted in some tacit trouble to mind them. From time
to time Breckon found her eyes dwelling upon him wonderingly,
entreatingly; she dropped them, if she caught his, and colored.
In the afternoon it was early evident that they were approaching
Boulogne. The hatch was opened and the sailors began getting up the
baggage of the passengers who were going to disembark. It seemed a long
time for everybody till the steamer got in; those going ashore sat on
their hand-baggage for an hour before the tug came up to take, them off.
Mr. Pogis was among them; he had begun in the forenoon to mark the
approaching separation between Lottie and himself by intervals of
unmistakable withdrawal. Another girl might have cared, but Lottie did
not care, for her failure to get a rise out of him by her mockingly
varied "Oh, I say!" and "Well, rather!" In the growth of his dignified
reserve Mr. Pogis was indifferent to jeers. By whatever tradition of
what would or would not do he was controlled in relinquishing her
acquaintance, or whether it was in obedience to some imperative ideal, or
some fearful domestic influence subtly making itself felt from the coasts
of his native island, or some fine despair of equalling the imagined
grandeur of Lottie's social state in Tuskingum by anything he could show
her in England, it was certain that he was ending with Lottie then and
there. At the same time he was carefully defining himself from the
Rasmiths, with whom he must land. He had his state-room things put at an
appreciable distance, where he did not escape a final stab from Lottie.
"Oh, do give me a rose out of that," she entreated, in travestied
imploring, as he stood looking at a withered bouquet which the steward
had brought up with his rugs.
"I'm takin' it home," he explained, coldly.
"And I want to take a rose back to New York. I want to give it to a
friend of mine there."
Mr. Pogis hesitated. Then he asked, "A man?" "Well, rather!" said
He answered nothing, but looked definitively down at the flowers in his
"Oh, I say!" Lottie exulted.
Boyne remained fixed in fealty to the Rasmiths, with whom Breckon was
also talking as Mrs. Kenton came up with the judge. She explained how
sorry her daughter Ellen was at not being able to say goodbye; she was
still not at all well; and the ladies received her excuses with polite
patience. Mrs. Rasmith said she did not know what they should do without
Boyne, and Miss Rasmith put her arm across his shoulders and pulled him
up to her, and implored, "Oh, give him to me, Mrs. Kenton!"
Boyne stole an ashamed look at his mother, and his father said, with an
unbending to Breckon which must have been the effect of severe
expostulation from Mrs. Kenton, "I suppose you and the ladies will go to
"Why, no," Breckon said, and he added, with mounting confusion, "I--I had
arranged to keep on to Rotterdam. I was going to mention it."
"Keep on to Rotterdam!" Mrs. Rasmith's eyes expressed the greatest
"Why, of course, mother!" said her daughter. "Don't you know? Boyne
Boyne, after their parting, seized the first chance of assuring his
mother that he had not told Miss Rasmith that, for he had not known it,
and he went so far in her condemnation to wonder how she could say such
a thing. His mother said it was not very nice, and then suggested that
perhaps she had heard it from some one else, and thought it was he. She
acquitted him of complicity with Miss Rasmith in forbearing to contradict
her; and it seemed to her a fitting time to find out from Boyne what she
honestly could about the relation of the Rasmiths to Mr. Breckon. It was
very little beyond their supposition, which every one else had shared,
that he was going to land with them at Boulogne, and he must have changed
his mind very suddenly. Boyne had not heard the Rasmiths speak of it.
Miss Rasmith never spoke of Mr. Breckon at all; but she seemed to want to
talk of Ellen; she was always asking about her, and what was the matter
with her, and how long she had been sick.
"Boyne," said his mother, with a pang, "you didn't tell her anything
"Momma!" said the boy, in such evident abhorrence of the idea that she
rested tranquil concerning it. She paid little attention to what Boyne
told her otherwise of the Rasmiths. Her own horizon were so limited that
she could not have brought home to herself within them that wandering
life the Rasmiths led from climate to climate and sensation to sensation,
with no stay so long as the annually made in New York, where they
sometimes passed months enough to establish themselves in giving and
taking tea in a circle of kindred nomads. She conjectured as ignorantly
as Boyne himself that they were very rich, and it would not have
enlightened her to know that the mother was the widow of a California
politician, whom she had married in the sort of middle period following
upon her less mortuary survival of Miss Rasmith's father, whose name was
What Mrs. Kenton divined was that they had wanted to get Breckon, and
that so far as concerned her own interest in him they had wanted to get
him away from Ellen. In her innermost self-confidences she did not
permit herself the notion that Ellen had any right to him; but still it
was a relief to have them off the ship, and to have him left. Of all the
witnesses of the fact, she alone did not find it awkward. Breckon
himself found it very awkward. He did not wish to be with the Rasmiths,
but he found it uncomfortable not being with them, under the
circumstances, and he followed them ashore in tingling reveries of
explanation and apology. He had certainly meant to get off at Boulogne,
and when he had suddenly and tardily made up his mind to keep on to
Rotterdam, he had meant to tell them as soon as he had the labels on his
baggage changed. He had not meant to tell them why he had changed his
mind, and he did not tell them now in these tingling reveries. He did
not own the reason in his secret thoughts, for it no longer seemed a
reason; it no longer seemed a cause. He knew what the Rasmiths would
think; but he could easily make that right with his conscience, at least,
by parting with the Kentons at Rotterdam, and leaving them to find their
unconducted way to any point they chose beyond. He separated himself
uncomfortably from them when the tender had put off with her passengers
and the ship had got under way again, and went to the smoking-room, while
the judge returned to his book and Mrs. Kenton abandoned Lottie to her
own devices, and took Boyne aside for her apparently fruitless inquiries.
They were not really so fruitless but that at the end of them she could
go with due authority to look up her husband. She gently took his book
from him and shut it up. "Now, Mr. Kenton," she began, "if you don't go
right straight and find Mr. Breckon and talk with him, I--I don't know
what I will do. You must talk to him--"
"About Ellen?" the judge frowned.
"No, certainly not. Talk with him about anything that interests you. Be
pleasant to him. Can't you see that he's going on to Rotterdam on our
"Then I wish he wasn't. There's no use in it."
"No matter! It's polite in him, and I want you to show him that you
"Now see here, Sarah," said the judge, "if you want him shown that we
appreciate his politeness why don't you do it yourself?"
"I? Because it would look as if you were afraid to. It would look as if
we meant something by it."
"Well, I am afraid; and that's just what I'm afraid of. I declare, my
heart comes into my mouth whenever I think what an escape we had. I
think of it whenever I look at him, and I couldn't talk to him without
having that in my mind all the time. No, women can manage those things
better. If you believe he is going along on our account, so as to help
us see Holland, and to keep us from getting into scrapes, you're the one
to make it up to him. I don't care what you say to show him our
gratitude. I reckon we will get into all sorts of trouble if we're left
to ourselves. But if you think he's stayed because he wants to be with
"Oh, I don't KNOW what I think! And that's silly I can't talk to him.
I'm afraid it'll seem as if we wanted to flatter him, and goodness knows
we don't want to. Or, yes, we do! I'd give anything if it was true.
Rufus, do you suppose he did stay on her account? My, oh, my! If I
could only think so! Wouldn't it be the best thing in the world for the
poor child, and for all of us? I never saw anybody that I liked so much.
But it's too good to be true."
"He's a nice fellow, but I don't think he's any too good for Ellen."
"I'm not saying he is. The great thing is that he's good enough, and
gracious knows what will happen if she meets some other worthless fellow,
and gets befooled with him! Or if she doesn't take a fancy to some one,
and goes back to Tuskingum without seeing any one else she likes, there
is that awful wretch, and when she hears what Dick did to him--she's just
wrong-headed enough to take up with him again to make amends to him. Oh,
dear oh, dear! I know Lottie will let it out to her yet!"
The judge began threateningly, "You tell Lottie from me--"
"What?" said the girl herself, who had seen her father and mother
talking together in a remote corner of the music-room and had stolen
light-footedly upon them just at this moment.
"Lottie, child," said her mother, undismayed at Lottie's arrival in her
larger anxiety, "I wish you would try and be agreeable to Mr. Breckon.
Now that he's going on with us to Holland, I don't want him to think
we're avoiding him."
"Because you want to get him for Ellen?"
"Don't be impudent," said her father. "You do as your mother bids you."
"Be agreeable to that old Breckon? I think I see myself! I'd sooner
read! I'm going to get a book now." She left them as abruptly as she
had come upon them, and ran across to the bookcase, where she remained
two stepping and peering through the glass doors at the literature
within, in unaccustomed question concerning it.
"She's a case," said the judge, looking at her not only with relenting,
but with the pride in her sufficiency for all the exigencies of life
which he could not feel in Ellen. "She can take care of herself."
"Oh yes," Mrs. Kenton sadly assented, I don't think anybody will ever
make a fool of Lottie."
"It's a great deal more likely to be the other way," her father
"I think Lottie is conscientious," Mrs. Kenton protested. "She wouldn't
really fool with a man."
"No, she's a good girl," the judge owned.
"It's girls like Ellen who make the trouble and the care. They are too
good, and you have to think some evil in this world. Well!" She rose
and gave her husband back his book.
"Do you know where Boyne is?"
"No. Do you want him to be pleasant to Mr. Breckon?"
"Somebody has got to. But it would be ridiculous if nobody but Boyne
She did not find Boyne, after no very exhaustive search, and the boy was
left to form his bearing towards Breckon on the behavior of the rest of
his family. As this continued helplessly constrained both in his father
and mother, and voluntarily repellent in Lottie, Boyne decided upon a
blend of conduct which left Breckon in greater and greater doubt of his
wisdom in keeping on to Rotterdam. There was no good reason which he
would have been willing to give himself, from the beginning. It had been
an impulse, suddenly coming upon him in the baggage-room where he had
gone to get something out of his trunk, and where he had decided to have
the label of his baggage changed from the original destination at
Boulogne to the final port of the steamer's arrival. When this was once
done he was sorry, but he was ashamed to have the label changed back.
The most assignable motive for his act was his reluctance to go on to
Paris with the Rasmiths, or rather with Mrs. Rasmith; for with her
daughter, who was not a bad fellow, one could always manage. He was
quite aware of being safely in his own hands against any design of Mrs.
Rasmith's, but her machinations humiliated him for her; he hated to see
her going through her manoeuvres, and he could not help grieving for her
failures, with a sort of impersonal sympathy, all the more because he
disliked her as little as he respected her.
The motive which he did not assign to himself was that which probably
prevailed with him, though in the last analysis it was as selfish, no
doubt, as the one he acknowledged. Ellen Kenton still piqued his
curiosity, still touched his compassion. He had so far from exhausted
his wish or his power to befriend her, to help her, that he had still a
wholly unsatisfied longing to console her, especially when she drooped
into that listless attitude she was apt to take, with her face fallen and
her hands let lie, the back of one in the palm of the other, in her lap.
It was possibly the vision of this following him to the baggage-room,
when he went to open his trunk, that as much as anything decided him to
have the label changed on his baggage, but he did not own it then, and
still less did he own it now, when he found himself quite on his own
hands for his pains.
He felt that for some reason the Kentons were all avoiding him. Ellen,
indeed, did not take part, against him, unless negatively, for she had
appeared neither at lunch nor at dinner as the vessel kept on its way
after leaving Boulogne; and when he ventured to ask for her Mrs. Kenton
answered with embarrassment that she was not feeling very well. He asked
for her at lunch, but not at dinner, and when he had finished that meal
he went on the promenade-deck, and walked forlornly up and down, feeling
that he had been a fool.
Mrs. Kenton went below to her daughter's room, and found Ellen there on
the sofa, with her book shut on her thumb at the place where the twilight
had failed her.
"Ellen, dear," her mother said, "aren't you feeling well?"
"Yes, I'm well enough," said the girl, sensible of a leading in the
"Oh, nothing. Only--only I can't make your father behave naturally with
Mr. Breckon. He's got his mind so full of that mistake we both came so
near making that he can't think of anything else. He's so sheepish about
it that he can hardly speak to him or even look at him; and I must
confess that I don't do much better. You know I don't like to put myself
forward where your father is, and if I did, really I don't believe I
could make up my mouth to say anything. I did want Lottie to be nice to
him, but Lottie dislikes him so! And even Boyne--well, it wouldn't
matter about Boyne, if he didn't seem to be carrying out a sort of family
plan--Boyne barely answers him when he speaks to him. I don't know what
he can think." Ellen was a good listener, and Mrs. Kenton, having
begun, did not stop till she had emptied the bag. "I just know that he
didn't get off at Boulogne because he wanted to stay on with us, and
thought he could be useful to us at The Hague, and everywhere; and here
we're acting as ungratefully! Why, we're not even commonly polite to
him, and I know he feels it. I know that he's hurt."
Ellen rose and stood before the glass, into which he asked of her
mother's reflected face, while she knotted a fallen coil of hair into its
place, "Where is he?"
"I don't know. He went on deck somewhere."
Ellen put on her hat and pinned it, and put on her jacket and buttoned
it. Then she started towards the door. Her mother made way for her,
faltering, "What are you going to do, Ellen?"
"I am going to do right."
"Don't-catch cold!" her mother called after her figure vanishing down
the corridor, but the warning couched in these terms had really no
reference to the weather.
The girl's impulse was one of those effects of the weak will in her which
were apt to leave her short of the fulfilment of a purpose. It carried
her as her as the promenade, which she found empty, and she went and
leaned upon the rail, and looked out over the sorrowful North Sea, which
was washing darkly away towards where the gloomy sunset had been.
Steps from the other side of the ship approached, hesitated towards her,
and then arrested themselves. She looked round.
"Why, Miss Kenton!" said Breckon, stupidly.
"The sunset is over, isn't it?" she answered.
"The twilight isn't." Breckon stopped; then he asked, "Wouldn't you like
to take a little walk?"
"Yes," she answered, and smiled fully upon him. He had never known
before how radiant a smile she lead.
"Better have my arm. It's getting rather dark."
"Well." She put her hand on his arm and he felt it tremble there, while
she palpitated, "We are all so glad you could go on to Rotterdam. My
mother wanted me to tell you."
"Oh, don't speak of that," said Breckon, not very appositely. Presently
he forced a laugh, in order to add, with lightness, "I was afraid perhaps
I had given you all some reason to regret it!"
She said, "I was afraid you would think that--or momma was--and I
couldn't bear to have you."
"Well, then, I won't."
Breckon had answered with gayety, but his happiness was something beyond
gayety. He had really felt the exclusion from the Kentons in which he
had passed the day, and he had felt it the more painfully because he
liked them all. It may be owned that he liked Ellen best from the
beginning, and now he liked her better than ever, but even in the day's
exile he had not ceased to like each of them. They were, in their family
affection, as lovable as that sort of selfishness can make people. They
were very united and good to one another. Lottie herself, except in her
most lurid moments, was good to her brother and sister, and almost
invariably kind to her parents. She would not, Breckon saw, have brooked
much meddling with her flirtations from them, but as they did not offer
to meddle, she had no occasion to grumble on that score. She grumbled
when they asked her to do things for Ellen, but she did them, and though
she never did them without grumbling, she sometimes did them without
being asked. She was really very watchful of Ellen when it would least
have been expected, and sometimes she was sweet. She never was sweet
with Boyne, but she was often his friend, though this did not keep her
from turning upon him at the first chance to give him a little dig, or a
large one, for that matter. As for Boyne, he was a mass of helpless
sweetness, though he did not know it, and sometimes took himself for an
iceberg when he was merely an ice-cream of heroic mould. He was as
helplessly sweet with Lottie as with any one, and if he suffered keenly
from her treacheries, and seized every occasion to repay them in kind,
it was clearly a matter of conscience with him, and always for the good.
Their father and mother treated their squabbles very wisely, Breckon
thought. They ignored them as much as possible, and they recognized them
without attempting to do that justice between them which would have
rankled in both their breasts.
To a spectator who had been critical at first, Mr. and Mrs. Kenton seemed
an exemplary father and mother with Ellen as well as with their other
children. It is easy to be exemplary with a sick girl, but they
increasingly affected Breckon as exemplary with Ellen. He fancied that
they acted upon each other beneficially towards her. At first he had
foreboded some tiresome boasting from the father's tenderness, and some
weak indulgence of the daughter's whims from her mother; but there was
either never any ground for this, or else Mrs. Kenton, in keeping her
husband from boasting, had been obliged in mere consistency to set a
guard upon her own fondness.
It was not that. Ellen, he was more and more decided, would have abused
the weakness of either; if there was anything more angelic than her
patience, it was her wish to be a comfort to them, and, between the
caprices of her invalidism, to be a service. It was pathetic to see her
remembering to do things for them which Boyne and Lottie had forgotten,
or plainly shirked doing, and to keep the fact out of sight. She really
kept it out of sight with them, and if she did not hide it from so close
an observer as Breckon, that was more his fault than hers. When her
father first launched out in her praise, or the praise of her reading,
the young man had dreaded a rustic prig; yet she had never been a prig,
but simply glad of what book she had known, and meekly submissive to his
knowledge if not his taste. He owned that she had a right to her taste,
which he found almost always good, and accounted for as instinctive in
the absence of an imaginable culture in her imaginable ambient. So far
as he had glimpses of this, he found it so different from anything he had
known that the modest adequacy of Mrs. Kenton in the political
experiences of modern Europe, as well as the clear judgments of Kenton
himself in matters sometimes beyond Breekon himself, mystified him no
less than Ellen's taste.
Even with the growth of his respect for their intelligence and his love
of their kindliness, he had not been able to keep a certain patronage
from mingling, and it was not till they evinced not only entire ability,
but an apparent wish to get on without his approval, without his
acquaintance even, that he had conceived a just sense of them. The like
is apt to happen with the best of us, when we are also the finest, and
Breckon was not singular in coming to a due consciousness of something
valuable only in the hour of its loss. He did not know that the loss was
only apparent. He knew that he had made a distinct sacrifice for these
people, and that, when he had prepared himself to befriend them little
short of self-devotion, they showed themselves indifferent, and almost
repellent. In the revulsion of feeling, when Ellen gave him her mother's
message, and frankly offered him reparation on behalf of her whole
family, he may have overdone his gratitude, but he did not overdo it to
her perception. They walked up and down the promenade of the Amstel, in
the watery North Sea moon, while bells after bells noted the hour
unheeded, and when they parted for the night it was with an involuntary
pressure of hands, from which she suddenly pulled hers, and ran down the
corridor of her state-room and Lottie's.
He stood watching the narrow space in which she had vanished, and
thinking how gentle she was, and how she had contrived somehow to make
him feel that now it was she who had been consoling him, and trying to
interest him and amuse him. He had not realized that before; he had been
used to interesting and amusing her, but he could not resent it; he could
not resent the implication of superiority, if such a thing were possible,
which her kindness conveyed. The question with Breckon was whether she
had walked with him so long because she wished, in the hour, to make up
as fully as possible for the day's neglect, or because she had liked to
walk up and down with him. It was a question he found keeping itself
poignantly, yet pleasantly, in his mind, after he had got into his berth
under the solidly slumberous Boyne, and inclining now to one solution and
now to the other, with a delicate oscillation that was charming.
The Amstel took her time to get into Rotterdam, and when her passengers
had gone ashore the next forenoon the train that carried Breckon to The
Hague in the same compartment with the Kentons was in no greater hurry.
It arrived with a deliberation which kept it from carrying them on to
Amsterdam before they knew it, and Mrs. Kenton had time to place such
parts of the wars in the Rise of the Dutch Republic as she could attach
to the names of the stations and the general features of the landscape.
Boyne was occupied with improvements for the windmills and the canal-
boats, which did not seem to him of the quality of the Michigan
aerometers, or the craft with which he was familiar on the Hudson River
and on the canal that passed through Tuskingum. Lottie, with respect to
the canals, offered the frank observation that they smelt, and in
recognizing a fact which travel almost universally ignores in Holland,
she watched her chance of popping up the window between herself and
Boyne, which Boyne put down with mounting rage. The agriculture which
triumphed everywhere on the little half--acre plots lifted fifteen inches
above the waters of the environing ditches, and the black and white
cattle everywhere attesting the immemorial Dutch ideal of a cow, were
what at first occupied Kenton, and he was tardily won from them to the
question of fighting over a country like that. It was a concession to
his wife's impassioned interest in the overthrow of the Spaniards in a
landscape which had evidently not changed since. She said it was hard to
realize that Holland was not still a republic, and she was not very
patient with Breckon's defence of the monarchy on the ground that the
young Queen was a very pretty girl.
"And she is only sixteen," Boyne urged.
"Then she is two years too old for you," said Lottie.
"No such thing!" Boyne retorted. "I was fifteen in June."
"Dear me! I should never have thought it," said his sister.
Ellen seemed hardly to look out of the window at anything directly, but
when her father bade her see this thing and that, it seemed that she had
seen it already. She said at last, with a quiet sigh, "I never want to
She had been a little shy of Breckon the whole morning, and had kept him
asking himself whether she was sorry she had walked so long with him the
night before, or, having offered him due reparation for her family, she
was again dropping him. Now and then he put her to the test by words
explicitly directed at her, and she replied with the dreamy passivity
which seemed her normal mood, and in which he could fancy himself half
forgotten, or remembered with an effort.
In the midst of this doubt she surprised him--he reflected that she was
always surprising him--by asking him how far it was from The Hague to the
sea. He explained that The Hague was in the sea like all the rest of
Holland, but that if she meant the shore, it was no distance at all.
Then she said, vaguely, she wished they were going to the shore. Her
father asked Breckon if there was not a hotel at the beach, and the young
man tried to give him a notion of the splendors of the Kurhaus at
Scheveningen; of Scheveningen itself he despaired of giving any just
"Then we can go there," said the judge, ignoring Ellen, in his decision,
as if she had nothing to do with it.
Lottie interposed a vivid preference for The Hague. She had, she said,
had enough of the sea for one while, and did not want to look at it again
till they sailed for home. Boyne turned to his father as if a good deal
shaken by this reasoning, and it was Mrs. Kenton who carried the day for
going first to a hotel in The Hague and prospecting from there in the
direction of Scheveningen; Boyne and his father could go down to the
shore and see which they liked best.
"I don't see what that has to do with me," said Lottie. No one was
alarmed by her announcement that if she did not like Scheveningen she
should stay at The Hague, whatever the rest did; in the event fortune
favored her going with her family.
The hotel in The Hague was very pleasant, with a garden behind it, where
a companionable cat had found a dry spot, and where Lottie found the cat
and made friends with it. But she said the hotel was full of Cook's
tourists, whom she recognized, in spite of her lifelong ignorance of
them, by a prescience derived from the conversation of Mr. Pogis, and
from the instinct of a society woman, already rife in her. She found
that she could not stay in a hotel with Cook's tourists, and she took her
father's place in the exploring party which went down to the watering-
place in the afternoon, on the top of a tram-car, under the leafy roof of
the adorable avenue of trees which embowers the track to Scheveningen.
She disputed Boyne's impressions of the Dutch people, whom he found
looking more like Americans than any foreigners he had seen, and she
snubbed Breckon from his supposed charge of the party. But after the
start, when she declared that Ellen could not go, and that it was
ridiculous for her to think of it, she was very good to her, and looked
after her safety and comfort with a despotic devotion.
At the Kurhaus she promptly took the lead in choosing rooms, for she had
no doubt of staying there after the first glance at the place, and she
showed a practical sense in settling her family which at least her mother
appreciated when they were installed the next day.
Mrs. Kenton could not make her husband admire Lottie's faculty so
readily. "You think it would have been better for her to sit down with
Ellen, on the sand and dream of the sea," she reproached him, with a
tender resentment on behalf of Lottie. "Everybody can't dream."
"Yes, but I wish she didn't keep awake with such a din," said the judge.
After all, he admired Lottie's judgment about the rooms, and he censured
her with a sigh of relief from care as he sank back in the easy-chair
fronting the window that looked out on the North Sea; Lottie had already
made him appreciate the view till he was almost sick of it.
"What is the matter?" said Mrs. Kenton, sharply. "Do you want to be in
Tuskingum? I suppose you would rather be looking into Richard's back-
"No," said the judge, mildly, "this is very nice."
"It will do Ellen good, every minute. I don't care how much she sits on
the sands and dream. I'll love to see her."
The sitting on the sand was a survival of Mr. Kenton's preoccupations of
the sea-side. As a mater of fact, Ellen was at that moment sitting in
one of the hooked wicker arm-chairs which were scattered over the whole
vast beach like a growth of monstrous mushrooms, and, confronting her in
cosey proximity, Breckon sat equally hidden in another windstuhl. Her
father and her mother were able to keep them placed, among the multitude
of windsiuhls, by the presence of Lottie, who hovered near them, and,
with Boyne, fended off the demure, wicked-looking little Scheveningen
girls. On a smaller scale these were exactly like their demure, wicked-
looking Scheveningen mothers, and they approached with knitting in their
hands, and with large stones folded in their aprons, which they had
pilfered from the mole, and were trying to sell for footstools. The
windstuhl men and they were enemies, and when Breckon bribed them to go
away, the windstuhl men chased them, and the little girls ran, making
mouths at Boyne over their shoulders. He scorned to notice them; but he
was obliged to report the misconduct of Lottie, who began making eyes at
the Dutch officers as soon as she could feel that Ellen was safely off
her hands. She was the more exasperating and the more culpable to Boyne,
because she had asked him to walk up the beach with her, and had then
made the fraternal promenade a basis of operations against the Dutch
military. She joined her parents in ignoring Boyne's complaints, and
continued to take credit for all the pleasant facts of the situation; she
patronized her family as much for the table d'hote at luncheon as for the
comfort of their rooms. She was able to assure them that there was not a
Cook's tourist in the hotel, where there seemed to be nearly every other
kind of fellow-creature. At the end of the first week she had
acquaintance of as many nationalities as she could reach in their native
or acquired English, in all the stages of haughty toleration, vivid
intimacy, and cold exhaustion. She had a faculty for getting through
with people, or of ceasing to have any use for them, which was perhaps
her best safeguard in her adventurous flirting; while the simple aliens
were still in the full tide of fancied success, Lottie was sick of them
all, and deep in an indiscriminate correspondence with her young men in
The letters which she had invited from these while still in New York
arrived with the first of those readdressed from the judge's London
banker. She had more letters than all the rest of the family together,
and counted a half-dozen against a poor two for her sister. Mrs. Kenton
cared nothing about Lottie's letters, but she was silently uneasy about
the two that Ellen carelessly took. She wondered who could be writing to
Ellen, especially in a cover bearing a handwriting altogether strange to
"It isn't from Bittridge, at any rate," she said to her husband, in the
speculation which she made him share. "I am always dreading to have her
find out what Richard did. It would spoil everything, I'm afraid, and
now everything is going so well. I do wish Richard hadn't, though, of
course, he did it for the best. Who do you think has been writing to
"Why don't you ask her?"
"I suppose she will tell me after a while. I don't like to seem to be
following her up. One was from Bessie Pearl, I think."
Ellen did not speak of her letters to her mother, and after waiting a day
or two, Mrs. Kenton could not refrain from asking her.
"Oh, I forgot," said Ellen. "I haven't read them yet."
"Haven't read them!" said Mrs. Kenton. Then, after reflection, she
added, "You are a strange girl, Ellen," and did not venture to say more.
"I suppose I thought I should have to answer them, and that made me
careless. But I will read them." Her mother was silent, and presently
Ellen added: "I hate to think of the past. Don't you, momma?"
"It is certainly very pleasant here," said Mrs. Kenton, cautiously.
"You're enjoying yourself--I mean, you seem to be getting so much
"Why, momma, why do you talk as if I had been sick?" Ellen asked.
"I mean you're so much interested."
"Don't I go about everywhere, like anybody?" Ellen pursued, ignoring her
"Yes, you certainly do. Mr. Breckon seems to like going about."
Ellen did not respond to the suggestion except to say: "We go into all
sorts of places. This morning we went up on that schooner that's drawn
up on the beach, and the old man who was there was very pleasant.
I thought it was a wreck, but Mr. Breckon says they are always drawing
their ships that way up on the sand. The old man was patching some of
the wood-work, and he told Mr. Breckon--he can speak a little Dutch--that
they were going to drag her down to the water and go fishing as soon as
he was done. He seemed to think we were brother and sister." She
flushed a little, and then she said: "I believe I like the dunes as well
as anything. Sometimes when those curious cold breaths come in from the
sea we climb up in the little hollows on the other side and sit there out
of the draft. Everybody seems to do it."
Apparently Ellen was submitting the propriety of the fact to her mother,
who said: "Yes, it seems to be quite the same as it is at home. I always
supposed that it was different with young people here. There is
certainly no harm in it."
Ellen went on, irrelevantly. "I like to go and look at the Scheveningen
women mending the nets on the sand back of the dunes. They have such
good gossiping times. They shouted to us last evening, and then laughed
when they saw us watching them. When they got through their work they
got up and stamped off so strong, with their bare, red arms folded into
their aprons, and their skirts sticking out so stiff. Yes, I should like
to be like them."
"Yes; why not?"
Mrs. Kenton found nothing better to answer than,
"They were very material looking."
"They are very happy looking. They live in the present. That is what I
should like: living in the present, and not looking backwards or
forwards. After all, the present is the only life we've got, isn't it?"
"I suppose you may say it is," Mrs. Kenton admitted, not knowing just
where the talk was leading, but dreading to interrupt it.
"But that isn't the Scheveningen woman's only ideal. Their other ideal
is to keep the place clean. Saturday afternoon they were all out
scrubbing the brick sidewalks, and clear into the middle of the street.
We were almost ashamed to walk over the nice bricks, and we picked out as
many dirty places as we could find."
Ellen laughed, with a light-hearted gayety that was very strange to her,
and Mrs. Kenton, as she afterwards told her husband, did not know what to
"I couldn't help wondering," she said, "whether the poor child would have
liked to keep on living in the present a month ago."
"Well, I'm glad you didn't say so," the judge answered.
From the easy conquest of the men who looked at her Lottie proceeded to
the subjection of the women. It would have been more difficult to put
these down, if the process had not been so largely, so almost entirely
subjective. As it was, Lottie exchanged snubs with many ladies of the
continental nationalities who were never aware of having offered or
received offence. In some cases, when they fearlessly ventured to speak
with her, they behaved very amiable, and seemed to find her conduct
sufficiently gracious in return. In fact, she was approachable enough,
and had no shame, before Boyne, in dismounting from the high horse which
she rode when alone with him, and meeting these ladies on foot, at least
half-way. She made several of them acquainted with her mother, who,
after a timorous reticence, found them very conversable, with a range of
topics, however, that shocked her American sense of decorum. One Dutch
lady talked with such manly freedom, and with such untrammelled intimacy,
that she was obliged to send Boyne and Lottie about their business, upon
an excuse that was not apparent to the Dutch lady. She only complimented
Mrs. Kenton upon her children and their devotion to each other, and when
she learned that Ellen was also her daughter, ventured the surmise she
was not long married.
"It isn't her husband," Mrs. Kenton explained, with inward trouble.
"It's just a gentleman that came over with us," and she went with her
trouble to her own husband as soon as she could.
"I'm afraid it isn't the custom to go around alone with young men as much
as Ellen thinks," she suggested.
"He ought to know," said the judge. "I don't suppose he would if it
"That is true," Mrs. Kenton owned, and for the time she put her
"So long as we do nothing wrong," the judge decided, "I don't see why we
should not keep to our own customs."
"Lottie says they're not ours, in New York."
"Well, we are not in New York now."
They had neither of them the heart to interfere with Ellen's happiness,
for, after all, Breckon was careful enough of the appearances, and it was
only his being constantly with Ellen that suggested the Dutch lady's
surmise. In fact, the range of their wanderings was not beyond the
dunes, though once they went a little way on one of the neatly bricked
country roads that led towards The Hague. As yet there had been no
movement in any of the party to see the places that lie within such easy
tram-reach of The Hague, and the hoarded interest of the past in their
keeping. Ellen chose to dwell in the actualities which were an
enlargement of her own present, and Lottie's active spirit found
employment enough in the amusements at the Kurhaus. She shopped in the
little bazars which make a Saratoga under the colonnades fronting two
sides of the great space before the hotel, and she formed a critical and
exacting taste in music from a constant attendance at the afternoon
concerts; it is true that during the winter in New York she had cast
forever behind her the unsophisticated ideals of Tuskingum in the art, so
that from the first she was able to hold the famous orchestra that played
in the Kurhaus concert-room up to the highest standard. She had no use
for anybody who had any use for rag-time, and she was terribly severe
with a young American, primarily of Boyne's acquaintance, who tried to
make favor with her by asking about the latest coon-songs. She took the
highest ethical ground with him about tickets in a charitable lottery
which he had bought from the portier, but could not move him on the lower
level which he occupied. He offered to give her the picture which was
the chief prize, in case he won it, and she assured him beforehand that
she should not take it. She warned Boyne against him, under threats of
exposure to their mother, as not a good influence, but one afternoon,
when the young Queen of Holland came to the concert with the queen-
mother, Lottie cast her prejudices to the winds in accepting the places
which the wicked fellow-countryman offered Boyne and herself, when they
had failed to get any where they could see the queens, as the Dutch
The hotel was draped with flags, and banked with flowers about the main
entrance where the queens were to arrive, and the guests massed
themselves in a dense lane for them to pass through. Lottie could not
fail to be one of the foremost in this array, and she was able to decide,
when the queens had passed, that the younger would not be considered a
more than average pretty girl in America, and that she was not very well
dressed. They had all stood within five feet of her, and Boyne had
appropriated one of the prettiest of the pretty bends which the gracious
young creature made to right and left, and had responded to it with an
'empressement' which he hoped had not been a sacrifice of his republican
During the concert he sat with his eyes fixed upon the Queen where she
sat in the royal box, with her mother and her ladies behind her, and
wondered and blushed to wonder if she had noticed him when be bowed, or
if his chivalric devotion in applauding her when the audience rose to
receive her had been more apparent than that of others; whether it had
seemed the heroic act of setting forth at the head of her armies, to beat
back a German invasion, which it had essentially been, with his
instantaneous return as victor, and the Queen's abdication and adoption
of republican principles under conviction of his reasoning, and her
idolized consecration as the first chief of the Dutch republic. His
cheeks glowed, and he quaked at heart lest Lottie should surprise his
thoughts and expose them to that sarcastic acquaintance, who proved to be
a medical student resting at Scheveningen from the winter's courses and
clinics in, Vienna. He had already got on to many of Boyne s curves, and
had sacrilegiously suggested the Queen of Holland when he found him
feeding his fancy on the modern heroical romances; he advised him as an
American adventurer to compete with the European princes paying court to
her. So thin a barrier divided that malign intelligence from Boyne's
most secret dreams that he could never feel quite safe from him, and yet
he was always finding himself with him, now that he was separated from
Miss Rasmith, and Mr. Breckon was taken up so much with Ellen. On the
ship he could put many things before Mr. Breckon which must here perish
in his breast, or suffer the blight of this Mr. Trannel's raillery. The
student sat near the Kentons at table, and he was no more reverent of the
judge's modest convictions than of Boyne's fantastic preoccupations. The
worst of him was that you could not help liking him: he had a fascination
which the boy felt while he dreaded him, and now and then he did
something so pleasant that when he said something unpleasant you could
hardly believe it.
At the end of the concert, when he rose and stood with all the rest,
while the royal party left their box, and the orchestra played the Dutch
national hymn, he said, in a loud whisper, to Boyne: "Now's your time, my
boy! Hurry out and hand her into her carriage!"
Boyne fairly reeled at the words which translated a passage of the wild
drama playing itself in his brain, and found little support in bidding
his tormentor, "Shut up!" The retort, rude as it was, seemed
insufficient, but Boyne tried in vain to think of something else. He
tried to punish him by separating Lottie from him, but failed as signally
in that. She went off with him, and sat in a windstuhl facing his the
rest of the afternoon, with every effect of carrying on.
Boyne was helpless, with his mother against it, when he appealed to her
to let him go and tell Lottie that she wanted her. Mrs. Kenton said that
she saw no harm in it, that Ellen was sitting in like manner with Mr.
"Mr. Breckon is very different, and Ellen knows how to behave," he urged,
but his mother remained unmoved, or was too absent about something to
take any interest in the matter. In fact, she was again unhappy about
Ellen, though she put on such an air of being easy about her. Clearly,
so far as her maternal surmise could fathom the case, Mr. Breckon was
more and more interested in Ellen, and it was evident that the child was
interested in him. The situation was everything that was acceptable to
Mrs. Kenton, but she shuddered at the cloud which hung over it, and which
might any moment involve it. Again and again she had made sure that
Lottie had given Ellen no hint of Richard's ill-advised vengeance upon
Bittridge; but it was not a thing that could be kept always, and the
question was whether it could be kept till Ellen had accepted Mr. Breckon
and married him. This was beyond the question of his asking her to do
so, but it was so much more important that Mrs. Kenton was giving it her
attention first, quite out of the order of time. Besides, she had every
reason, as she felt, to count upon the event. Unless he was trifling
with Ellen, far more wickedly than Bittridge, he was in love with her,
and in Mrs. Kenton's simple experience and philosophy of life, being in
love was briefly preliminary to marrying. If she went with her anxieties
to her husband, she had first to reduce him from a buoyant optimism
concerning the affair before she could get him to listen seriously.
When this was accomplished he fell into such despair that she ended in
lifting him up and supporting him with hopes that she did not feel
herself. What they were both united in was the conviction that nothing
so good could happen in the world, but they were equally united in the
old American tradition that they must not lift a finger to secure this
supreme good for their child.
It did not seem to them that leaving the young people constantly to
themselves was doing this. They interfered with Ellen now neither more
nor less than they had interfered with her as to Bittridge, or than they
would have interfered with her in the case of any one else. She was
still to be left entirely to herself in such matters, and Mrs. Kenton
would have kept even her thoughts off her if she could. She would have
been very glad to give her mind wholly to the study of the great events
which had long interested her here in their scene, but she felt that
until the conquest of Mr. Breckon was secured beyond the hazard of
Ellen's morbid defection at the supreme moment, she could not give her
mind to the history of the Dutch republic.
"Don't bother me about Lottie, Boyne," she said. I have enough to think
of without your nonsense. If this Mr. Trannel is an American, that is
all that is necessary. We are all Americans together, and I don't
believe it will make remark, Lottie's sitting on the beach with him."
"I don't see how he's different from that Bittridge," said Boyne. "He
doesn't care for anything; and he plays the banjo just like him."
Mrs. Kenton was too troubled to laugh. She said, with finality, "Lottie
can take care of herself," and then she asked, "Boyne, do you know whom
Ellen's letters were from?"
"One was from Bessie Pearl--"
"Yes, she showed me that. But you don't know who the other was from?"
"No; she didn't tell me. You know how close Ellen is."
"Yes," the mother sighed, "she is very odd."
Then she added, "Don't you let her know that I asked you about her
"No," said Boyne. His audience was apparently at an end, but he seemed
still to have something on his mind. "Momma," he began afresh.
"Well?" she answered, a little impatiently.
"Nothing. Only I got to thinking, Is a person able to control their--
"Fancies about what?"
"Oh, I don't know. About falling in love." Boyne blushed.
"Why do you want to know? You musn't think about such things, a boy like
you! It's a great pity that you ever knew anything about that Bittridge
business. It's made you too bold. But it seems to have been meant to
drag us down and humiliate us in every way."
"Well, I didn't try to know anything about it," Boyne retorted.
"No, that's true," his mother did him the justice to recognize. "Well,
what is it you want to know?" Boyne was too hurt to answer at once, and
his mother had to coax him a little. She did it sweetly, and apologized
to him for saying what she had said. After all, he was the youngest, and
her baby still. Her words and caresses took effect at last, and he
stammered out, "Is everybody so, or is it only the Kentons that seem to
be always putting--well, their affections--where it's perfectly useless?"
His mother pushed him from her. "Boyne, are you silly about that
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