Entire PG Edition of The Works of William Dean Howells
William Dean Howells
Part 63 out of 78
ridiculous old Miss Rasmith?"
"No!" Boyne shouted, savagely, "I'm NOT!"
"Who is it, then?"
"I sha'n't tell you!" Boyne said, and tears of rage and shame came into
In his exile from his kindred, for it came practically to that, Boyne was
able to add a fine gloom to the state which he commonly observed with
himself when he was not giving way to his morbid fancies or his morbid
fears, and breaking down in helpless subjection to the nearest member of
his household. Lottie was so taken up with her student that she scarcely
quarrelled with him any more, and they had no longer those moments of
union in which they stood together against the world. His mother had
cast him off, as he felt, very heartlessly, though it was really because
she could not give his absurdities due thought in view of the hopeful
seriousness of Ellen's affair, and Boyne was aware that his father at the
best of times was ignorant of him when he was not impatient of him.
These were not the best of times with Judge Kenton, and Boyne was not the
first object of his impatience. In the last analysis he was living until
he could get home, and so largely in the hope of this that his wife at
times could scarcely keep him from taking some step that would decide the
matter between Ellen and Breckon at once. They were tacitly agreed that
they were waiting for nothing else, and, without making their agreement
explicit, she was able to quell him by asking what he expected to do in
case there was nothing between them? Was he going to take the child back
to Tuskingum, which was the same as taking her back to Bittridge? it hurt
her to confront him with this question, and she tried other devices for
staying and appeasing him. She begged him now, seeing Boyne so forlorn,
and hanging about the hotel alone, or moping over those ridiculous books
of his, to go off with the boy somewhere and see the interesting places
within such easy reach, like Leyden and Delft if he cared nothing for the
place where William the Silent was shot, he ought to see the place that
the Pilgrims started from. She had counted upon doing those places
herself, with her husband, and it was in a sacrifice of her ideal that
she now urged him to go with Boyne. But her preoccupation with Ellen's
affair forbade her self-abandon to those high historical interests to
which she urged his devotion. She might have gone with him and Boyne, but
then she must have left the larger half of her divided mind with Ellen,
not to speak of Lottie, who refused to be a party to any such excursion.
Mrs. Kenton felt the disappointment and grieved at it, but not without
hope of repairing it later, and she did not cease from entreating the
judge to do what he could at once towards fulfilling the desires she
postponed. Once she prevailed with him, and really got him and Boyne off
for a day, but they came back early, with signs of having bored each
other intolerably, and after that it was Boyne, as much as his father,
who relucted from joint expeditions. Boyne did not so much object to
going alone, and his father said it was best to let him, though his
mother had her fears for her youngest. He spent a good deal of his time
on the trams between Scheveningen and The Hague, and he was understood to
have explored the capital pretty thoroughly. In fact, he did go about
with a valet de place, whom he got at a cheap rate, and with whom he
conversed upon the state of the country and its political affairs. The
valet said that the only enemy that Holland could fear was Germany, but
an invasion from that quarter could be easily repulsed by cutting the
dikes and drowning the invaders. The sea, he taught Boyne, was the great
defence of Holland, and it was a waste of money to keep such an army as
the Dutch had; but neither the sea nor the sword could drive out the
Germans if once they insidiously married a Prussian prince to the Dutch
There seemed to be no getting away from the Queen, for Boyne. The valet
not only talked about her, as the pleasantest subject which he could
find, but he insisted upon showing Boyne all her palaces. He took him
into the Parliament house, and showed him where she sat while the queen-
mother read the address from the throne. He introduced him at a bazar
where the shop-girl who spoke English better than Boyne, or at least
without the central Ohio accent, wanted to sell him a miniature of the
Queen on porcelain. She said the Queen was such a nice girl, and she was
herself such a nice girl that Boyne blushed a little in looking at her.
He bought the miniature, and then he did not know what to do with it; if
any of the family, if Lottie, found out that he had it, or that Trannel,
he should have no peace any more. He put it in his pocket, provisionally,
and when he came giddily out of the shop he felt himself taken by the
elbow and placed against the wall by the valet, who said the queens were
coming. They drove down slowly through the crowded, narrow street,
bowing right and left to the people flattened against the shops, and
again Boyne saw her so near that he could have reached out his hand and
almost touched hers.
The consciousness of this was so strong in him that he wondered whether
he had not tried to do so. If he had he would have been arrested--
he knew that; and so he knew that he had not done it. He knew that he
imagined doing so because it would be so awful to have done it, and he
imagined being in love with her because it would be so frantic. At the
same time he dramatized an event in which he died for her, and she became
aware of his hopeless passion at the last moment, while the anarchist
from whom he had saved her confessed that the bomb had been meant for
her. Perhaps it was a pistol.
He escaped from the valet as soon as he could, and went back to
Scheveningen limp from this experience, but the queens were before him.
They had driven down to visit the studio of a famous Dutch painter there,
and again the doom was on Boyne to press forward with the other
spectators and wait for the queens to appear and get into their carriage.
The young Queen's looks were stamped in Boyne's consciousness, so that he
saw her wherever he turned, like the sun when one has gazed at it. He
thought how that Trannel had said he ought to hand her into her carriage,
and he shrank away for fear he should try to do so, but he could not
leave the place till she had come out with the queen--mother and driven
off. Then he went slowly and breathlessly into the hotel, feeling the
Queen's miniature in his pocket. It made his heart stand still, and then
bound forward. He wondered again what he should do with it. If he kept
it, Lottie would be sure to find it, and he could not bring himself to
the sacrilege of destroying it. He thought he would walk out on the
breakwater as far as he could and throw it into the sea, but when he got
to the end of the mole he could not do so. He decided that he would give
it to Ellen to keep for him, and not let Lottie see it; or perhaps he
might pretend he had bought it for her. He could not do that, though,
for it would not be true, and if he did he could not ask her to keep it
At dinner Mr. Trannel told him he ought to have been there to see the
Queen; that she had asked especially for him, and wanted to know if they
had not sent up her card to him. Boyne meditated an apt answer through
all the courses, but he had not thought of one when they had come to the
'corbeille de fruits', and he was forced to go to bed without having
In taking rooms for her family at the hotel, Lottie had arranged for her
emancipation from the thraldom of rooming with Ellen. She said that had
gone on long enough; if she was grown up at all, she was grown up enough
to have a room of her own, and her mother had yielded to reasoning which
began and ended with this position. She would have interfered so far as
to put Lottie into the room next her, but Lottie said that if Boyne was
the baby he ought to be next his mother; Ellen might come next him, but
she was going to have the room that was furthest from any implication of
the dependence in which she had languished; and her mother submitted
again. Boyne was not sorry; there had always been hours of the night
when he felt the need of getting at his mother for reassurance as to
forebodings which his fancy conjured up to trouble him in the wakeful
dark. It was understood that he might freely do this, and though the
judge inwardly fretted, he could not deny the boy the comfort of his
mother's encouraging love. Boyne's visits woke him, but he slept the
better for indulging in the young nerves that tremor from impressions
against which the old nerves are proof. But now, in the strange fatality
which seemed to involve him, Boyne could not go to his mother. It was
too weirdly intimate, even for her; besides, when he had already tried to
seek her counsel she had ignorantly repelled him.
The night after his day in The Hague, when he could bear it no longer, he
put on his dressing-gown and softly opened Ellen's door, awake, Ellen?"
"Yes, What is it, Boyne" her gentle voice asked.
"He came and sat down by her bed and stole his hand into hers, which she
put out to him. The watery moonlight dripped into the room at the edges
of the shades, and the long wash of the sea made itself regularly heard
on the sands.
"Can't you sleep?" Ellen asked again. "Are you homesick?"
"Not exactly that. But it does seem rather strange for us to be off here
so far, doesn't it?"
"Yes, I don't see how I can forgive myself for making you come," said
Ellen, but her voice did not sound as if she were very unhappy.
"You couldn't help it," said Boyne, and the words suggested a question to
him. "Do you believe that such things are ordered, Ellen?"
"Everything is ordered, isn't it?"
"I suppose so. And if they are, we're not, to blame for what happens."
"Not if we try to do right."
"Of course. The Kentons always do that," said Boyne, with the faith in
his family that did not fail him in the darkest hour. "But what I mean
is that if anything comes on you that you can't foresee and you can't get
out of--" The next step was not clear, and Boyne paused. He asked,
"Do you think that we can control our feelings, Ellen?"
"Well, about persons that we like." He added, for safety, "Or dislike."
"I'm afraid not," said Ellen, sadly, "We ought to like persons and
dislike them for some good reason, but we don't."
"Yes, that's what I mean," said Borne, with a long breath. "Sometimes it
seems like a kind of possession, doesn't it?"
"It seems more like that when we like them," Ellen said.
"Yes, that's what I mean. If a person was to take a fancy to some one
that was above him, that was richer, or older, he wouldn't be to blame
for it, would he?"
"Was that what you wanted to ask me about?"
Borne hesitated. "Yes" he said. He was in for it now.
Ellen had not noticed Boyne's absorption with Miss Rasmith on the ship,
but she vaguely remembered hearing Lottie tease him about her, and she
said now, "He wouldn't be to blame for it if he couldn't help it, but if
the person was much older it would be a pity!"
"Uh, she isn't so very much older," said Borne, more cheerfully than he
had spoken before.
"Is it somebody that you have taken a fancy to Borne?"
"I don't know, Ellen. That's what makes it so kind of awful. I can't
tell whether it's a real fancy, or I only think it is. Sometimes I think
it is, and sometimes I think that I think so because I am afraid to
believe it. Do you under Ellen?"
"It seems to me that I do. But you oughtn't to let your fancy run away
with you, Boyne. What a queer boy!"
"It's a kind of fascination, I suppose. But whether it's a real fancy or
an unreal one, I can't get away from it."
"Poor boy!" said his sister.
"Perhaps it's those books. Sometimes I think it is, and I laugh at the
whole idea; and then again it's so strong that I can't get away from it.
I could tell you who it is, if you think that would do any good--if you
think it would help me to see it in the true light, or you could help me
more by knowing who it is than you can now."
"I hope it isn't anybody that you can't respect, Boyne?"
"No, indeed! It's somebody you would never dream of."
"Well?" Ellen was waiting for him to speak, but he could not get the
words out, even to her.
"I guess I'll tell you some other time. Maybe I can get over it myself."
"It would be the best way if you could."
He rose and left her bedside, and then he came back. "Ellen, I've got
something that I wish you would keep for me."
"What is it? Of course I will."
"Well, it's--something I don't want you to let Lottie know I've got.
She tells that Mr. Trannel everything, and then he wants to make fun.
Do you think he's so very witty?"
"I can't help laughing at some things he says."
"I suppose he is," Boyne ruefully admitted. "But that doesn't make you
like him any better. Well, if you won't tell Lottie, I'll give it to you
"I won't tell anything that you don't want me to, Boyne."
"It's nothing. It's just-a picture of the Queen on porcelain, that I got
in The Hague. The guide took me into the store, and I thought I ought to
"Oh, that's very nice, Boyne. I do like the Queen so much. She's so
"Yes, isn't she?" said Boyne, glad of Ellen's approval. So far, at
least, he was not wrong. "Here it is now."
He put the miniature in Ellen's hand. She lifted herself on her elbow.
"Light the candle and let me see it."
"No, no!" he entreated. "It might wake Lottie, and--and--Good-night,
"Can you go to sleep now, Boyne?"
"Oh yes. I'm all right. Good-night."
Borne stooped over and kissed her, and went to the door. He came back
and asked, "You don't think it was silly, or anything, for me to get it?"
"No, indeed! It's just what you will like to have when you get home.
We've all seen her so often. I'll put it in my trunk, and nobody shall
know about it till we're safely back in Tuskingum."
Boyne sighed deeply. "Yes, that's what I meant. Good-night."
"I hope I haven't waked you up too much?"
"Oh no. I can get to sleep easily again."
"Well, good-night." Boyne sighed again, but not so deeply, and this time
he went out.
Mrs. Kenton woke with the clear vision which is sometimes vouchsafed to
people whose eyes are holden at other hours of the day. She had heard
Boyne opening and shutting Ellen's door, and her heart smote her that he
should have gone to his sister with whatever trouble he was in rather
than come to his mother. It was natural that she should put the blame on
her husband, and "Now, Mr. Kenton," she began, with an austerity of voice
which he recognized before he was well awake, "if you won't take Boyne
off somewhere to-day, I will. I think we had better all go. We have
been here a whole fortnight, and we have got thoroughly rested, and there
is no excuse for our wasting our time any longer. If we are going to see
Holland, we had better begin doing it."
The judge gave a general assent, and said that if she wanted to go to
Flushing he supposed he could find some garden-seeds there, in the flower
and vegetable nurseries, which would be adapted to the climate of
Tuskingum, and they could all put in the day pleasantly, looking round
the place. Whether it was the suggestion of Tuskingum in relation to
Flushing that decided her against the place, or whether she had really
meant to go to Leyden, she now expressed the wish, as vividly as if it
were novel, to explore the scene of the Pilgrims' sojourn before they
sailed for Plymouth, and she reproached him for not caring about the
place when they both used to take such an interest in it at home.
"Well," said the judge, "if I were at home I should take an interest in
This provoked her to a silence which he thought it best to break in tacit
compliance with her wish, and he asked, "Do you propose taking the whole
family and the appurtenances? We shall be rather a large party."
"Ellen would wish to go, and I suppose Mr. Breckon. We couldn't very
well go without them."
"And how about Lottie and that young Trannel?"
"We can't leave him out, very well. I wish we could. I don't like him."
"There's nothing easier than not asking him, if you don't want him."
"Yes, there is, when you've got a girl like Lottie to deal with. Quite
likely she would ask him herself. We must take him because we can't
"Yes, I reckon," the judge acquiesced.
"I'm glad," Mrs. Kenton said, after a moment, "that it isn't Ellen he's
after; it almost reconciles me to his being with Lottie so much. I only
wonder he doesn't take to Ellen, he's so much like that--"
She did not say out what was in her mind, but her husband knew. "Yes,
I've noticed it. This young Breckon was quite enough so, for my taste.
I don't know what it is that just saves him from it."
"He's good. You could tell that from the beginning."
They went off upon the situation that, superficially or subliminally,
was always interesting them beyond anything in the world, and they did
not openly recur to Mrs. Kenton's plan for the day till they met their
children at breakfast. It was a meal at which Breckon and Trammel were
both apt to join them, where they took it at two of the tables on the
broad, seaward piazza of the hotel when the weather was fine. Both the
young men now applauded her plan, in their different sorts. It was
easily arranged that they should go by train and not by tram from The
Hague. The train was chosen, and Mrs. Kenton, when she went to her room
to begin the preparations for a day's pleasure which constitute so
distinctly a part of its pain, imagined that everything was settled. She
had scarcely closed the door behind her when Lottie opened it and shut it
again behind her.
"Mother," she said, in the new style of address to which she was
habituating Mrs. Kenton, after having so long called her momma, "I am not
going with you."
"Indeed you are, then!" her mother retorted. "Do you think I would
leave you here all day with that fellow? A nice talk we should make!"
"You are perfectly welcome to that fellow, mother, and as he's accepted
he will have to go with you, and there won't be any talk. But, as I
remarked before, I am not going."
"Why aren't you going, I should like to know?"
"Because I don't like the company."
"What do you mean? Have you got anything against Mr. Breckon?"
"He's insipid, but as long as Ellen don't mind it I don't care. I object
to Mr. Trannel!"
"I don't see why I should have to tell you. If I said I liked him you
might want to know, but it seems to me that my not liking him is--my not
liking him is my own affair." There was a kind of logic in this that
silenced Mrs. Kenton for the moment. In view of her advantage
Lottie relented so far as to add, "I've found out something about him."
Mrs. Kenton was imperative in her alarm. "What is it?" she demanded.
Lottie answered, obliquely: "Well, I didn't leave The Hague to get rid of
them, and then take up with one of them at Scheveningen."
"One of what?"
"COOK'S TOURISTS, if you must know, mother. Mr. Trannel, as you call
him, is a Cook's tourist, and that's the end of it. I have got no use
for him from this out."
Mrs. Kenton was daunted, and not for the first time, by her daughter's
superior knowledge of life. She could put Boyne down sometimes, though
not always, when be attempted to impose a novel code of manners or morals
upon her, but she could not cope with Lottie. In the present case she
could only ask, "Well?"
"Well, they're the cheapest of the cheap. He actually showed me his
coupons, and tried to put me down with the idea that everybody used them.
But I guess he found it wouldn't work. He said if you were not
personally conducted it was all right."
"Now, Lottie, you have got to tell me just what you mean," said Mrs.
Kenton, and from having stood during this parley, she sat down to hear
Lottie out at her leisure. But if there was anything more difficult than
for Lottie to be explicit it was to make her be so, and in the end Mrs.
Kenton was scarcely wiser than she was at the beginning to her daughter's
reasons. It appeared that if you wanted to be cheap you could travel
with those coupons, and Lottie did not wish to be cheap, or have anything
to do with those who were. The Kentons had always held up their heads,
and if Ellen had chosen to disgrace them with Bittridge, Dick had made it
all right, and she at least was not going to do anything that she would
be ashamed of. She was going to stay at home, and have her meals in her
room till they got back.
Her mother paid no heed to her repeated declaration. "Lottie," she
asked, with the heart-quake that the thought of Richard's act always gave
her with reference to Ellen, "have you ever let out the least hint of
"Of course I haven't," Lottie scornfully retorted. "I hope I know what a
crank Ellen is."
They were not just the terms in which Mrs. Kenton would have chosen to be
reassured, but she was glad to be assured in any terms. She said,
vaguely: "I believe in my heart that I will stay at home, too. All this
has given me a bad headache."
"I was going to have a headache myself," said Lottie, with injury.
"But I suppose I can get on along without. I can just simply say I'm not
going. If he proposes to stay, too, I can soon settle that."
"The great difficulty will be to get your father to go."
"You can make Ellen make him," Lottie suggested.
"That is true," said Mrs. Kenton, with such increasing absence that her
daughter required of her:
"Are you staying on my account?"
"I think you had better not be left alone the whole day. But I am not
staying on your account. I don't believe we had so many of us better go.
It might look a little pointed."
Lottie laughed harshly. "I guess Mr. Breckon wouldn't see the point,
he's so perfectly gone."
"Do you really believe it, Lottie?" Mrs. Kenton entreated, with a sudden
tenderness for her younger daughter such as she did not always feel.
"I should think anybody would believe it--anybody but Ellen."
"Yes," Mrs. Kenton dreamily assented.
Lottie made her way to the door. "Well, if you do stay, mother, I'm not
going to have you hanging round me all day. I can chaperon myself."
"Lottie," her mother tried to stay her, "I wish you would go. I don't
believe that Mr. Trannel will be much of an addition. He will be on your
poor father's hands all day, or else Ellen's, and if you went you could
"Thank you, mother. I've had quite all I want of Mr. Trannel. You can
tell him he needn't go, if you want to."
Lottie at least did not leave her mother to make her excuses to the party
when they met for starting. Mrs. Kenton had deferred her own till she
thought it was too late for her husband to retreat, and then bunglingly
made them, with so much iteration that it seemed to her it would have
been far less pointed, as concerned Mr. Breckon, if she had gone. Lottie
sunnily announced that she was going to stay with her mother, and did not
even try to account for her defection to Mr. Trannel.
"What's the matter with my staying, too?" he asked. "It seems to me
there are four wheels to this coach now."
He had addressed his misgiving more to Lottie than the rest; but with the
same sunny indifference to the consequence for others that she had put on
in stating her decision, she now discharged herself from further
responsibility by turning on her heel and leaving it with the party
generally. In the circumstances Mr. Trannel had no choice but to go,
and he was supported, possibly, by the hope of taking it out of Lottie
some other time.
It was more difficult for Mrs. Kenton to get rid of the judge, but an
inscrutable frown goes far in such exigencies. It seems to explain, and
it certainly warns, and the husband on whom it is bent never knows, even
after the longest experience, whether he had better inquire further.
Usually he decides that he had better not, and Judge Kenton went off
towards the tram with Boyne in the cloud of mystery which involved them
both as to Mrs. Kenton's meaning.
Trannel attached himself as well as he could to Breckon and Ellen, and
Breckon had an opportunity not fully offered him before to note a
likeness between himself and a fellow-man whom he was aware of not
liking, though he tried to love him, as he felt it right to love all men.
He thought he had not been quite sympathetic enough with Mrs. Kenton in
her having to stay behind, and he tried to make it up to Mr. Trannel in
his having to come. He invented civilities to show him, and ceded his
place next Ellen as if Trannel had a right to it. Trannel ignored him in
keeping it, unless it was recognizing Breckon to say, "Oh, I hope I'm not
in your way, old fellow?" and then making jokes to Ellen. Breckon could
not say the jokes were bad, though the taste of them seemed to him so.
The man had a fleering wit, which scorched whatever he turned it upon,
and yet it was wit. "Why don't you try him in American?" he asked at
the failure of Breckon and the tram conductor to understand each other in
Dutch. He tried the conductor himself in American, and he was so
deplorably funny that it was hard for Breckon to help being 'particeps
criminus', at least in a laugh.
He asked himself if that were really the kind of man he was, and he grew
silent and melancholy in the fear that it was a good deal the sort of
man. To this morbid fancy Trannel seemed himself in a sort of excess,
or what he would be if he were logically ultimated. He remembered all
the triviality of his behavior with Ellen at first, and rather sickened
at the thought of some of his early pleasantries. She was talking gayly
now with Trannel, and Breckon wondered whether she was falling under the
charm that he felt in him, in spite of himself.
If she was, her father was not. The judge sat on the other side of the
car, and unmistakably glowered at the fellow's attempts to make himself
amusing to Ellen. Trannel himself was not insensible to the judge's
mood. Now and then he said something to intensify it. He patronized the
judge and he made fun of the tourist character in which Boyne had got
himself up, with a field-glass slung by a strap under one arm and a red
Baedeker in his hand. He sputtered with malign laughter at a rather
gorgeous necktie which Boyne had put on for the day, and said it was not
a very good match for the Baedeker.
Boyne retorted rudely, and that amused Trannel still more. He became
personal to Breckon, and noted the unclerical cut of his clothes. He
said he ought to have put on his uniform for an expedition like that, in
case they got into any sort of trouble. To Ellen alone he was
inoffensive, unless he overdid his polite attentions to her in carrying
her parasol for her, and helping her out of the tram, when they arrived,
shouldering every one else away, and making haste to separate her from
the others and then to walk on with her a little in advance.
Suddenly he dropped her, and fell back to Boyne and his father, while
Breckon hastened forward to her side. Trannel put his arm across Boyne's
shoulders and asked him if he were mad, and then laughed at him. "You're
all right, Boyne, but you oughtn't to be so approachable. You ought to
put on more dignity, and repel familiarity!"
Boyne could only twitch away in silence that he made as haughty as he
could, but not so haughty that Trannel did not find it laughable, and he
laughed in a teasing way that made Breckon more and more serious. He was
aware of becoming even solemn with the question of his likeness to
Trannel. He was of Trannel's quality, and their difference was a matter
of quantity, and there was not enough difference. In his sense of their
likeness Breckon vowed himself to a gravity of behavior evermore which he
should not probably be able to observe, but the sample he now displayed
did not escape the keen vigilance of Trannel.
"With the exception of Miss Kenton," he addressed himself to the party,
"you're all so easy and careless that if you don't look out you'll lose
me. Miss Kenton, I wish you would keep an eye on me. I don't want to
Ellen laughed--she could not help it--and her laughing made it less
possible than before for Breckon to unbend and meet Trannel on his own
ground, to give him joke for joke, to exchange banter with him. He might
never have been willing to do that, but now he shrank from it, in his
realization of their likeness, with an abhorrence that rendered him
The judge was walking ahead with Boyne, and his back expressed such
severe disapproval that, between her fear that Trannel would say
something to bring her father's condemnation on him and her sense of
their inhospitable attitude towards one who was their guest, in a sort,
she said, with her gentle gayety, "Then you must keep near me, Mr.
Trannel. I'll see that nothing happens."
"That's very sweet of you," said Trannel, soberly. Whether he had now
vented his malicious humor and was ready to make himself agreeable, or
was somewhat quelled by the unfriendly ambient he had created, or was
wrought upon by her friendliness, he became everything that could be
wished in a companion for a day's pleasure. He took the lead at the
station, and got them a compartment in the car to themselves for the
little run to Leyden, and on the way he talked very well. He politely
borrowed Boyne's Baedeker, and decided for the party what they had best
see, and showed an acceptable intelligence, as well as a large experience
in the claims of Leyden upon the visitor's interest. He had been there
often before, it seemed, and in the event it appeared that he had chosen
the days sightseeing wisely.
He no longer addressed himself respectfully to Ellen alone, but he re-
established himself in Boyne's confidence with especial pains, and he
conciliated Breckon by a recognition of his priority with Ellen with a
delicacy refined enough for even the susceptibility of a lover alarmed
for his rights. If he could not overcome the reluctance of the judge,
he brought him to the civil response which any one who tried for Kenton's
liking achieved, even if he did not merit it, and there remained no more
reserve in Kenton's manner than there had been with the young man from
the first. He had never been a persona grata to the judge, and if he did
not become so now, he at least ceased to be actively displeasing.
That was the year before the young Queen came to her own, and in the last
days of her minority she was visiting all the cities of her future
dominion with the queen-mother. When Kenton's party left the station
they found Leyden as gay for her reception as flags and banners could
make the gray old town, and Trannel relapsed for a moment so far as to
suggest that the decorations were in honor of Boyne's presence, but he
did not abuse the laugh that this made to Boyne's further shame.
There was no carriage at the station which would hold the party of five,
and they had to take two vehicles. Trannel said it was lucky they wanted
two, since there were no more, and he put himself in authority to assort
the party. The judge, he decided, must go with Ellen and Breckon, and he
hoped Boyne would let him go in his carriage, if he would sit on the box
with the driver. The judge afterwards owned that he had weakly indulged
his dislike of the fellow, in letting him take Boyne, and not insisting
on going himself with Tramiel, but this was when it was long too late.
Ellen had her misgivings, but, except for that gibe about the
decorations, Trannel had been behaving so well that she hoped she might
trust Boyne with him. She made a kind of appeal for her brother, bidding
him and Trannel take good care of each other, and Trannel promised so
earnestly to look after Boyne that she ought to have been alarmed for
him. He took the lead, rising at times to wave a reassuring hand to her
over the back of his carriage, and, in fact, nothing evil could very well
happen from him, with the others following so close upon him. They met
from time to time in the churches they visited, and when they lost sight
of one another, through a difference of opinion in the drivers as to the
best route, they came together at the place Trannel had appointed for
their next reunion.
He showed himself a guide so admirably qualified that he found a way for
them to objects of interest that had at first denied themselves in
anticipation of the visit from the queens; when they all sat down at
lunch in the restaurant which he found for them, he could justifiably
boast that he would get them into the Town Hall, which they had been told
was barred for the day against anything but sovereign curiosity. He was
now on the best term with Boyne, who seemed to have lost all diffidence
of him, and treated him with an easy familiarity that showed itself in
his slapping him on the shoulder and making dints in his hat. Trannel
seemed to enjoy these caresses, and, when they parted again for the
afternoon's sight-seeing, Ellen had no longer a qualm in letting Boyne
drive off with him.
He had, in fact, known how to make himself very acceptable to Boyne. He
knew all the originals of his heroical romances, and was able to give the
real names and the geographical position of those princesses who had been
in love with American adventurers. Under promise of secrecy he disclosed
the real names of the adventurers themselves, now obscured in the titles
given them to render them worthy their union with sovereigns. He resumed
his fascinating confidences when they drove off after luncheon, and he
resumed them after each separation from the rest of the party. Boyne
listened with a flushed face and starting eyes, and when at last Trannel
offered, upon a pledge of the most sacred nature from him never to reveal
a word of what he said, he began to relate an adventure of which he was
himself the hero. It was a bold travesty of one of the latest romances
that Boyne had read, involving the experience of an American very little
older than Boyne himself, to whom a wilful young crown-princess, in a
little state which Trannel would not name even to Boyne, had made
advances such as he could not refuse to meet without cruelty. He was
himself deeply in love with her, but he felt bound in honor not to
encourage her infatuation as long as he could help, for he had been
received by her whole family with such kindness and confidence that he
had to consider them.
"Oh, pshaw!" Boyne broke in upon him, doubting, and yet wishing not to
doubt, "that's the same as the story of 'Hector Folleyne'."
"Yes," said Trannel, quietly. "I thought you would recognize it."
"Well, but," Boyne went on, "Hector married the princess!"
"In the book, yes. The fellow I gave the story to said it would never do
not to have him marry her, and it would help to disguise the fact.
That's what he said, after he had given the whole thing away."
"And do you mean to say it was you? Oh, you can't stuff me! How did you
get out of marrying her, I should like to know, when the chancellor came
to you and said that the whole family wanted you to, for fear it would
kill her if--"
"Well, there was a scene, I can't deny that. We had a regular family
conclave--father, mother, Aunt Hitty, and all the folks--and we kept it
up pretty much all night. The princess wasn't there, of course, and I
could convince them that I was right. If she had been, I don't believe I
could have held out. But they had to listen to reason, and I got away
between two days."
"But why didn't you marry her?"
"Well, for one thing, as I told you, I thought I ought to consider her
family. Then there was a good fellow, the crown-prince of Saxe-
Wolfenhutten, who was dead in love with her, and was engaged to her
before I turned up. I had been at school with him, and I felt awfully
sorry for him; and I thought I ought to sacrifice myself a little to him.
But I suppose the thing that influenced me most was finding out that if I
married the princess I should have to give up my American citizenship and
become her subject."
"Well?" Boyne panted.
"Well, would you have done it?"
"Couldn't you have got along without doing that?"
"That was the only thing I couldn't get around, somehow. So I left."
"And the princess, did she--die?"
"It takes a good deal more than that to kill a fifteen-year-old
princess," said Trannel, and he gave a harsh laugh. "She married Saxe-
Wolfenhutten." Boyne was silent. "Now, I don't want you to speak of
this till after I leave Scheveningen--especially to Miss Lottie. You
know how girls are, and I think Miss Lottie is waiting to get a bind on
me, anyway. If she heard how I was cut out of my chance with that
princess she'd never let me believe I gave her up of my own free will?"
"NO, no; I won't tell her."
Boyne remained in a silent rapture, and he did not notice they were no
longer following the rest of their party in the other carriage. This had
turned down a corner, at which Mr. Breckon, sitting on the front seat,
had risen and beckoned their driver to follow, but their driver, who
appeared afterwards to have not too much a head of his own, or no head at
all, had continued straight on, in the rear of a tram-car, which was
slowly finding its way through the momently thickening crowd. Boyne was
first aware that it was a humorous crowd when, at a turn of the street,
their equipage was greeted with ironical cheers by a group of gay young
Dutchmen on the sidewalk. Then he saw that the sidewalks were packed
with people, who spread into the street almost to the tram, and that the
house fronts were dotted with smiling Dutch faces, the faces of pretty
Dutch girls, who seemed to share the amusement of the young fellows
Trannel lay back in the carriage. "This is something like," he said.
"Boyne, they're on to the distinguished young Ohioan--the only Ohioan out
of office in Europe."
"Yes," said Boyne, trying to enjoy it. "I wonder what they are holloing
Trannel laughed. "They're holloing at your Baedeker, my dear boy. They
never saw one before," and Boyne was aware that he was holding his red-
backed guide conspicuously in view on his lap. "They know you're a
foreigner by it."
"Don't you think we ought to turn down somewhere? I don't see poppa
anywhere." He rose and looked anxiously back over the top of their
carriage. The crowd, closing in behind it, hailed his troubled face with
cries that were taken up by the throng on the sidewalks. Boyne turned
about to find that the tram-car which they had been following had
disappeared round a corner, but their driver was still keeping on. At a
wilder burst of applause Trannel took off his hat and bowed to the crowd,
right and left.
"Bow, bow!" he said to Boyne. "They'll be calling for a speech the next
thing. Bow, I tell you!"
"Tell him to turn round!" cried the boy.
"I can't speak Dutch," said Trannel, and Boyne leaned forward and poked
the driver in the back.
"Go back!" he commanded.
The driver shook his head and pointed forward with his whip. "He's all
right," said Trannel. "He can't turn now. We've got to take the next
corner." The street in front was empty, and the people were crowding
back on the sidewalks. Loud, vague noises made themselves heard round
the corner to which the driver had pointed. "By Jove!" Trannel said,
"I believe they're coming round that way."
"Who are coming?" Boyne palpitated.
"The queens?" Boyne gasped; it seemed to him that he shrieked the words.
"Yes. And there's a tobacconist's now," said Trannel, as if that were
what he had been looking for all along. "I want some cigarettes."
He leaped lightly from the carriage, and pushed his way out of sight on
the sidewalk. Boyne remained alone in the vehicle, staring wildly round;
the driver kept slowly and stupidly on, Boyne did not know how much
farther. He could not speak; he felt as if he could not stir. But the
moment came when he could not be still. He gave a galvanic jump to the
ground, and the friendly crowd on the sidewalk welcomed him to its ranks
and closed about him. The driver had taken the lefthand corner, just
before a plain carriage with the Queen and the queen-mother came in sight
round the right. The young Queen was bowing to the people, gently, and
with a sort of mechanical regularity. Now and then a brighter smile than
that she conventionally wore lighted up her face. The simple progress
was absolutely without state, except for the aide-de-camp on horseback
who rode beside the carriage, a little to the front.
Boyne stood motionless on the curb, where a friendly tall Dutchman had
placed him in front that he might see the Queen.
"Hello!" said the voice of Trannel, and elbowing his way to Boyne's
side, he laughed and coughed through the smoke of his cigarette. "I was
afraid you had lost me. Where's your carriage?"
Boyne did not notice his mockeries. He was entranced in that beatific
vision; his boy-heart went out in worship to the pretty young creature
with a reverence that could not be uttered. The tears came into his
"There, there! She's bowing to you, Boyne. she's smiling right at you.
By Jove! She's beckoning to you!"
"You be still!" Boyne retorted, finding his tongue. "She isn't doing
any such a thing."
"She is, I swear she is! She's doing it again! She's stopping the
carriage. Oh, go out and see what she wants! Don't you know that a
queen's wish is a command? You've got to go!"
Boyne never could tell just how it happened. The carriage did seem to be
stopping, and the Queen seemed to be looking at him. He thought he must,
and he started into the street towards her, and the carriage came abreast
of him. He had almost reached the carriage when the aide turned and
spurred his horse before him. Four strong hands that were like iron
clamps were laid one on each of Boyne's elbows and shoulders, and he was
haled away, as if by superhuman force. "Mr. Trannel!" he called out.
in his agony, but the wretch had disappeared, and Boyne was left with his
captors, to whom he could have said nothing if he could have thought of
anything to say.
The detectives pulled him through the crowd and hurried him swiftly down
the side street. A little curiosity straggled after him in the shape of
small Dutch boys, too short to look over the shoulders of men at the
queens, and too weak to make their way through them to the front; but for
them, Boyne seemed alone in the world with the relentless officers, who
were dragging him forward and hurting him so with the grip of their iron
hands. He lifted up his face to entreat them not to hold him so tight,
and suddenly it was as if he beheld an angel standing in his path. It
was Breckon who was there, staring at him aghast.
"Why, Boyne!" he cried.
"Oh, Mr. Breckon!" Boyne wailed back. "Is it you? Oh, do tell them I
didn't mean to do anything! I thought she beckoned to me."
"Who? Who beckoned to you?"
"The Queen!" Boyne sobbed, while the detectives pulled him relentlessly
Breckon addressed them suavely in their owe tongue which had never come
in more deferential politeness from human lips. He ventured the belief
that there was a mistake; he assured them that he knew their prisoner,
and that he was the son of a most respectable American family, whom they
could find at the Kurhaus in Scheveningen. He added some irrelevancies,
and got for all answer that they had made Boyne's arrest for sufficient
reasons, and were taking him to prison. If his friends wished to
intervene in his behalf they could do so before the magistrate, but for
the present they must admonish Mr. Breckon not to put himself in the way
of the law.
"Don't go, Mr. Breckon!" Boyne implored him, as his captors made him
quicken his pace after slowing a little for their colloquy with Breckon.
"Oh, where is poppa? He could get me away. Oh, where is poppa?"
"Don't! Don't call out, Boyne," Breckon entreated. "Your father is
right here at the end of the street. He's in the carriage there with
Miss Kenton. I was coming to look for you. Don't cry out so!"
"No, no, I won't, Mr. Breckon. I'll be perfectly quiet now. Only do get
poppa quick! He can tell them in a minute that it's all right!"
He made a prodigious effort to control himself, while Breckon ran a
little ahead, with some wild notion of preparing Ellen. As he
disappeared at the corner, Boyne choked a sob into a muffed bellow, and
was able to meet the astonished eyes of his father and sister in this
degree of triumph.
They had not in the least understood Breckon's explanation, and, in fact,
it had not been very lucid. At sight of her brother strenuously upheld
between the detectives, and dragged along the sidewalk, Ellen sprang from
the carriage and ran towards him. "Why, what's the matter with Boyne?"
she demanded. "Are you hurt, Boyne, dear? Are they taking him to the
Before he could answer, and quite before the judge could reach the
tragical group, she had flung her arms round Boyne's neck, and was
kissing his tear-drabbled face, while he lamented back, "They're taking
me to prison."
"Taking you to prison? I should like to know what for! What are you
taking my brother to prison for?" she challenged the detectives, who
paused, bewildered, while all the little Dutch boys round admired this
obstruction of the law, and several Dutch housewives, too old to go out
to see the queens, looked down from their windows. It was wholly
illegal, but the detectives were human. They could snub such a friend of
their prisoner as Breckon, but they could not meet the dovelike ferocity
of Ellen with unkindness. They explained as well as they might, and at a
suggestion which Kenton made through Breckon, they admitted that it was
not beside their duty to take Boyne directly to a magistrate, who could
pass upon his case, and even release him upon proper evidence of his
harmlessness, and sufficient security for any demand that justice might
make for his future appearance.
"Then," said the judge, quietly, "tell them that we will go with them.
It will be all right, Boyne. Ellen, you and I will get back into the
"No!" Boyne roared. "Don't leave me, Nelly!"
"Indeed, I won't leave you, Boyne! Mr. Breckon, you get into the
carriage with poppa, and I--"
"I think I had better go with you, Miss Kenton," said Breckon, and in a
tender superfluity they both accompanied Boyne on foot, while the judge
remounted to his place in the carriage and kept abreast of them on their
way to the magistrate's.
The magistrate conceived of Boyne's case with a readiness that gave the
judge a high opinion of his personal and national intelligence. He even
smiled a little, in accepting the explanation which Breckon was able to
make him from Boyne, but he thought his duty to give the boy a fatherly
warning for the future. He remarked to Breckon that it was well for
Boyne that the affair had not happened in Germany, where it would have
been found a much more serious matter, though, indeed, he added, it had
to be seriously regarded anywhere in these times, when the lives of
sovereigns were so much at the mercy of all sorts of madmen and
miscreants. He relaxed a little from his severity in his admonition to
say directly to Boyne that queens, even when they wished to speak with
people, did not beckon them in the public streets. When this speech
translated to Boyne by Breckon, whom the magistrate complimented on the
perfection of his Dutch, Boyne hung his head sheepishly, and could not be
restored to his characteristic dignity again in the magistrate's
presence. The judge gratefully shook hands with the friendly justice,
and made him a little speech of thanks, which Breckon interpreted, and
then the justice shook hand with the judge, and gracefully accepted the
introduction which he offered him to Ellen. They parted with reciprocal
praises and obeisances, which included even the detectives. The judge
had some question, which he submitted to Breckon, whether he ought not to
offer them something, but Breckon thought not.
Breckon found it hard to abdicate the sort of authority in which his
knowledge of Dutch had placed him, and when he protested that he had done
nothing but act as interpreter, Ellen said, "Yes, but we couldn't have
done anything without you," and this was the view that Mrs. Kenton took
of the matter in the family conclave which took place later in the
evening. Breckon was not allowed to withdraw from it, in spite of many
modest efforts, before she had bashfully expressed her sense of his
service to him, and made Boyne share her thanksgiving. She had her arm
about the boy's shoulder in giving Breckon her hand, and when Breckon had
got away she pulled Boyne to her in a more peremptory embrace.
"Now, Boyne," she said, "I am not going to have any more nonsense. I
want to know why you did it."
The judge and Ellen had already conjectured clearly enough, and Boyne did
not fear them. But he looked at his younger sister as he sulkily
answered, "I am not going to tell you before Lottie."
"Come in here, then," said his mother, and she led him into the next room
and closed the door. She quickly returned without him. "Yes," she
began, "it's just as I supposed; it was that worthless fellow who put him
up to it. Of course, it began with those fool books he's been reading,
and the notions that Miss Rasmith put into his head. But he never would
have done anything if it hadn't been for Mr. Trannel."
Lottie had listened in silent scorn to the whole proceedings up to this
point, and had refused a part in the general recognition of Breckon as a
special providence. Now she flashed out with a terrible volubility:
"What did I tell you? What else could you expect of a Cook's tourist?
And mom--mother wanted to make me go with you, after I told her what he
was! Well, if I had have gone, I'll bet I could have kept him from
playing his tricks. I'll bet he wouldn't have taken any liberties, with
me along. I'll bet if he had, it wouldn't have been Boyne that got
arrested. I'll bet he wouldn't have got off so easily with the
magistrate, either! But I suppose you'll all let him come bowing and
smiling round in the morning, like butter wouldn't melt in your mouths.
That seems to be the Kenton way. Anybody can pull our noses, or get us
arrested that wants to, and we never squeak." She went on a long time to
this purpose, Mrs. Kenton listening with an air almost of conviction, and
Ellen patiently bearing it as a right that Lottie had in a matter where
she had been otherwise ignored.
The judge broke out, not upon Lottie, but upon his wife. "Good heavens,
Sarah, can't you make the child hush?"
Lottie answered for her mother, with a crash of nerves and a gush of
furious tears: "Oh, I've got to hush, I suppose. It's always the way
when I'm trying to keep up the dignity of the family. I suppose it will
be cabled to America, and by tomorrow it will be all over Tuskingum how
Boyne was made a fool of and got arrested. But I bet there's one person
in Tuskingum that won't have any remarks to make, and that's Bittridge.
Not, as long as Dick's there he won't."
"Lottie!" cried her mother, and her father started towards her, while
Ellen still sat patiently quiet.
"Oh, well!" Lottie submitted. "But if Dick was here I know this Trannel
wouldn't get off so smoothly. Dick would give him a worse cowhiding than
he did Bittridge."
Half the last word was lost in the bang of the door which Lottie slammed
behind her, leaving her father and mother to a silence which Ellen did
not offer to break. The judge had no heart to speak, in his dismay, and
it was Mrs. Kenton who took the word.
"Ellen," she began, with compassionate gentleness, "we tried to keep it
from you. We knew how you would feel. But now we have got to tell you.
Dick did cowhide him when he got back to Tuskingum. Lottie wrote out to
Dick about it, how Mr. Bittridge had behaved in New York. Your father
and I didn't approve of it, and Dick didn't afterwards; but, yes, he did
"I knew it, momma," said Ellen, sadly.
"You knew it! How?"
"That other letter I got when we first came--it was from his mother."
"Did she tell--"
"Yes. It was terrible she seemed to feel so. And I was sorry for her.
I thought I ought to answer it, and I did. I told her I was sorry, too.
I tried not to blame Richard. I don't believe I did. And I tried not to
blame him. She was feeling badly enough without that."
Her father and mother looked at each other; they did not speak, and she
asked, "Do you think I oughtn't to have written?"
Her father answered, a little tremulously: "You did right, Ellen. And I
am sure that you did it in just the right way."
"I tried to. I thought I wouldn't worry you about it."
She rose, and now her mother thought she was going to say that it put an
end to everything; that she must go back and offer herself as a sacrifice
to the injured Bittridges. Her mind had reverted to that moment on the
steamer when Ellen told her that nothing had reconciled her to what had
happened with Bittridge but the fact that all the wrong done had been
done to themselves; that this freed her. In her despair she could not
forbear asking, "What did you write to her, Ellen?"
"Nothing. I just said that I was very sorry, and that I knew how she
felt. I don't remember exactly."
She went up and kissed her mother. She seemed rather fatigued than
distressed, and her father asked her. "Are you going to bed, my dear?"
"Yes, I'm pretty tired, and I should think you would be, too, poppa.
I'll speak to poor Boyne. Don't mind Lottie. I suppose she couldn't
help saying it." She kissed her father, and slipped quietly into Boyne's
room, from which they could hear her passing on to her own before they
ventured to say anything to each other in the hopeful bewilderment to
which she had left them.
"Well?" said the judge.
"Well?" Mrs. Kenton returned, in a note of exasperation, as if she were
not going to let herself be forced to the initiative.
"I thought you thought--"
"I did think that. Now I don't know what to think. We have got to
"I'm willing to wait for Ellen!"
"She seems," said Mrs. Kenton, "to have more sense than both the other
children put together, and I was afraid--"
"She might easily have more sense than Boyne, or Lottie, either."
"Well, I don't know," Mrs. Kenton began. But she did not go on to resent
the disparagement which she had invited. "What I was afraid of was her
goodness. It was her goodness that got her into the trouble, to begin
with. If she hadn't been so good, that fellow could never have fooled
her as he did. She was too innocent."
The judge could not forbear the humorous view. "Perhaps she's getting
wickeder, or not so innocent. At any rate, she doesn't seem to have been
take in by Trannel."
"He didn't pay any attention to her. He was all taken up with Lottie."
"Well, that was lucky. Sarah," said the judge, "do you think he is like
"He's made me think of him all the time."
"It's curious," the judge mused. "I have always noticed how our faults
repeat themselves, but I didn't suppose our fates would always take the
same shape, or something like it." Mrs. Kenton stared at him. "When
this other one first made up to us on the boat my heart went down. I
thought of Bittridge so."
"Yes, the same lightness; the same sort of trifling--Didn't you notice
"No--yes, I noticed it. But I wasn't afraid for an instant. I saw that
he was good."
"What I'm afraid of now is that Ellen doesn't care anything about him."
"He isn't wicked enough?"
"I don't say that. But it would be too much happiness to expect in one
The judge could not deny the reasonableness of her position. He could
only oppose it. "Well, I don't think we've had any more than our share
of happiness lately."
No one except Boyne could have made Trannel's behavior a cause of
quarrel, but the other Kentons made it a cause of coldness which was
quite as effective. In Lottie this took the form of something so active,
so positive, that it was something more than a mere absence of warmth.
Before she came clown to breakfast the next morning she studied a stare
in her mirror, and practised it upon Trannel so successfully when he came
up to speak to her that it must have made him doubt whether he had ever
had her acquaintance. In his doubt he ventured to address her, and then
Lottie turned her back upon him in a manner that was perfectly
convincing. He attempted a smiling ease with Mrs. Kenton and the judge,
but they shared neither his smile nor his ease, and his jocose questions
about the end of yesterday's adventures, which he had not been privy to,
did not seem to appeal to the American sense of humor in them. Ellen was
not with them, nor Boyne, but Trannel was not asked to take either of the
vacant places at the table, even when Breckon took one of them, after a
decent exchange of civilities with him. He could only saunter away and
leave Mrs. Kenton to a little pang.
"Tchk!" she made. "I'm sorry for him!"
"So am I," said the judge. "But he will get over it--only too soon, I'm
afraid. I don't believe he's very sorry for himself."
They had not advised with Breckon, and he did not feel authorized to make
any comment. He seemed preoccupied, to Mrs. Kenton's eye, when she
turned it upon him from Trannel's discomfited back, lessening in the
perspective, and he answered vaguely to her overture about his night's
rest. Lottie never made any conversation with Breckon, and she now left
him to himself, with some remnants of the disapproval which she found on
her hands after crushing Trannel. It could not be said that Breckon was
aware of her disapproval, and the judge had no apparent consciousness of
it. He and Breckon tried to make something of each other, but failed,
and it all seemed a very defeating sequel to Mrs. Kenton after the
triumphal glow of the evening before. When Lottie rose, she went with
her, alleging her wish to see if Boyne had eaten his breakfast. She
confessed, to Breckon's kind inquiry, that Boyne did not seem very well,
and that she had made him take his breakfast in his room, and she did not
think it necessary to own, even to so friendly a witness as Mr. Breckon,
that Boyne was ashamed to come down, and dreaded meeting Trannel so much
that she was giving him time to recover his self-respect and courage.
As soon as she and Lottie were gone Breckon began, rather more formidably
than he liked, but helplessly so: "Judge Kenton, I should be glad of a
few moments with you on--on an important--on a matter that is important
"Well," said the judge, cautiously. Whatever was coming, he wished to
guard himself from the mistake that he had once so nearly fallen into,
and that still made him catch his breath to think of. "How can I be of
use to you?"
"I don't know that you can be of any use--I don't know that I ought to
speak to you. But I thought you might perhaps save me from--save my
taking a false step."
He looked at Kenton as if he would understand, and Kenton supposed that
he did. He said, "My daughter once mentioned your wish to talk with me."
"Your daughter?" Breckon stared at him in stupefaction.
"Yes; Ellen. She said you wished to consult me about going back to your
charge in New York, when we were on the ship together. But I don't know
that I'm very competent to give advice in such--"
"Oh!" Breckon exclaimed, in a tone of immense relief, which did not
continue itself in what he went on to say. "That! I've quite made up my
mind to go back." He stopped, and then be burst out, "I want to speak
with you about her." The judge sat steady, still resolute not to give
himself away, and the young man scarcely recovered from what had been a
desperate plunge in adding: "I know that it's usual to speak with her--
with the lady herself first, but--I don't know! The circumstances are
peculiar. You only know about me what you've seen of me, and I would
rather make my mistakes in the order that seems right to me, although it
isn't just the American way."
He smiled rather piteously, and the judge said, rather encouragingly,
"I don't quite know whether I follow you."
Breckon blushed, and sought help in what remained of his coffee. "The
way isn't easy for me. But it's this: I ask your leave to ask Miss Ellen
to marry me." The worst was over now, and looked as if it were a relief.
"She is the most beautiful person in the world to me, and the best;
but as you know so little of me, I thought it right to get your leave--to
tell you--to--to--That is all." He fell back in his chair and looked a
"It is unusual," the judge began.
"Yes, Yes; I know that. And for that reason I speak first to you. I'll
be ruled by you implicitly."
"I don't mean that," Kenton said. "I would have expected that you would
speak to her first. But I get your point of view, and I must say I think
you're right. I think you are behaving--honorably. I wish that every
one was like you. But I can't say anything now. I must talk with her
mother. My daughter's life has not been happy. I can't tell you. But
as far as I am concerned, and I think Mrs. Kenton, too, I would be glad
--We like you Mr. Breckon. We think you are a good man.
"Oh, thank you. I'm not so sure--"
"We'd risk it. But that isn't all. Will you excuse me if I don't say
anything more just yet--and if I leave you?"
"Why, certainly." The judge had risen and pushed back his chair, and
Breckon did the same. "And I shall--hear from you?"
"Why, certainly," said the judge in his turn.
"It isn't possible that you put him off!" his wife reproached him, when
he told what had passed between him and Breckon. "Oh, you couldn't have
let him think that we didn't want him for her! Surely you didn't!"
"Will you get it into your head," he flamed back, "that he hasn't spoken
to Ellen yet, and I couldn't accept him till she had?"
"Oh yes. I forgot that." Mrs. Kenton struggled with the fact, in the
difficulty of realizing so strange an order of procedure. "I suppose
it's his being educated abroad that way. But, do go back to him, Rufus,
and tell him that of course--"
"I will do nothing of the kind, Sarah! What are you thinking of?"
"Oh, I don't know what I'm thinking of! I must see Ellen, I suppose.
I'll go to her now. Oh, dear, if she doesn't--if she lets such a chance
slip through her fingers--But she's quite likely to, she's so obstinate!
I wonder what she'll want us to do."
She fled to her daughter's room and found Boyne there, sitting beside his
sister's bed, giving her a detailed account of his adventure of the day
before, up to the moment Mr. Breckon met him, in charge of the
detectives. Up to that moment, it appeared to Boyne, as nearly as he
could recollect, that he had not broken down, but had behaved himself
with a dignity which was now beginning to clothe his whole experience.
In the retrospect, a quiet heroism characterized his conduct, and at the
moment his mother entered the room he was questioning Ellen as to her
impressions of his bearing when she first saw him in the grasp of the
His mother took him by the arm, and said, "I want to speak with Ellen,
Boyne," and put him out of the door.
Then she came back and sat down in his chair. "Ellen. Mr. Breckon has
been speaking to your father. Do you know what about?"
"About his going back to New York?" the girl suggested.
Her mother kept her patience with difficulty. "No, not about that.
About you! He's asked your father--I can't understand yet why he did it,
only he's so delicate and honorable, and goodness known we appreciate it-
-whether he can tell you that--that--" It was not possible for such a
mother as Mrs. Kenton to say "He loves you"; it would have sounded as she
would have said, too sickish, and she compromised on: "He likes you, and
wants to ask you whether you will marry him. And, Ellen," she continued,
in the ample silence which followed, "if you don't say you will, I will
have nothing more to do With such a simpleton. I have always felt that
you behaved very foolishly about Mr. Bittridge, but I hoped that when you
grew older you would see it as we did, and--and behave differently. And
now, if, after all we've been through with you, you are going to say that
you won't have Mr. Breckon--"
Mrs. Kenton stopped for want of a figure that would convey all the
disaster that would fall upon Ellen in such an event, and she was given
further pause when the girl gently answered, "I'm not going to say that,
"Then what in the world are you going to say?" Mrs. Kenton demanded.
Ellen had turned her face away on the pillow, and now she answered,
quietly, "When Mr. Breckon asks me I will tell him."
"Well, you had better!" her mother threatened in return, and she did not
realize the falsity of her position till she reported Ellen's words to
Well, Sarah, I think she had you there," he said, and Mrs. Kenton then
said that she did not care, if the child was only going to behave
sensibly at last, and she did believe she was.
"Then it's all right" said the judge, and he took up the Tuskingum
Intelligencer, lying till then unread in the excitements which had
followed its arrival the day before, and began to read it.
Mrs. Kenton sat dreamily watching him, with her hands fallen in her lap.
She suddenly started up, with the cry, "Good gracious! What are we all
Kenton stared at her over the top of his paper. "How, thinking of?"
"Why Mr. Breckon! He must be crazy to know what we've decided, poor
"Oh," said the judge, folding the Intelligencer on his knee. "I had
forgotten. Somehow, I thought it was all settled."
Mrs, Kenton took his paper from him, and finished folding it. "It hasn't
begun to be settled. You must go and let him know."
"Won't he look me up?" the judge suggested.
"You must look him up. Go at once dear! Think how anxious he must be!"
Kenton was not sure that Breckon looked very anxious when he found him on
the brick promenade before the Kurhaus, apparently absorbed in noting the
convulsions of a large, round German lady in the water, who must have
supposed herself to be bathing. But perhaps the young man did not see
her; the smile on his face was too vague for such an interest when he
turned at Kenton's approaching steps.
The judge hesitated for an instant, in which the smile left Breckon's
face. "I believe that's all right, Mr. Breckon," he said. "You'll find
Mrs. Kenton in our parlor," and then the two men parted, with an "Oh,
thank you!" from Breckon, who walked back towards the hotel, and left
Kenton to ponder upon the German lady; as soon as he realized that she
was not a barrel, the judge continued his walk along the promenade,
feeling rather ashamed.
Mrs. Kenton had gone to Ellen's room again when she had got the judge off
upon his mission. She rather flung in upon her. "Oh, you are up!" she
apologized to Ellen's back. The girl's face was towards the glass, and
she was tilting her head to get the effect of the hat on it, which she
now took off.
"I suppose poppa's gone to tell him," she said, sitting tremulously down.
"Didn't you want him to?" her mother asked, stricken a little at sight
of her agitation.
"Yes, I wanted him to, but that doesn't make it any easier. It makes it
"You know you've got to tell him, first."
"Tell him?" Mrs. Kenton repeated, but she knew what Ellen meant.
"About--Mr. Bittridge. All about it. Every single thing. About his
kissing me that night."
At the last demand Mrs. Kenton was visibly shaken in her invisible assent
to the girl's wish. "Don't you think, Ellen, that you had better tell
him that--some time?"
"No, now. And you must tell him. You let me go to the theatre with
him." The faintest shadow of resentment clouded the girl's face, but
still Mrs. Kenton, thought she knew her own guilt, could not yield.
"Why, Ellen," she pleaded, not without a reproachful sense of vulgarity
in such a plea, "don't you suppose HE ever--kissed any one?"
"That doesn't concern me, momma," said Ellen, without a trace of
consciousness that she was saying anything uncommon. "If you won't tell
him, then that ends it. I won't see him."
"Oh, well!" her mother sighed. "I will try to tell him. But I'd rather
be whipped. I know he'll laugh at me."
"He won't laugh at you," said the girl, confidently, almost comfortingly.
"I want him to know everything before I meet him. I don't want to have a
single thing on my mind. I don't want to think of myself!"
Mrs. Kenton understood the woman--soul that spoke in these words.
"Well," she said, with a deep, long breath, "be ready, then."
But she felt the burden which had been put upon her to be so much more
than she could bear that when she found her husband in their parlor she
instantly resolved to cast it upon him. He stood at the window with his
"Has Breckon been here yet?" he asked.
"Have you seen him yet?" she returned.
"Yes, and I thought he was coming right here. But perhaps he stopped to
screw his courage up. He only knew how little it needed with us!"
"Well, now, it's we who've got to have the courage. Or you have. Do you
know what Ellen wants to have done?" Mrs. Kenton put it in these
impersonal terms, and as a preliminary to shirking her share of the
"She doesn't want to have him refused?"
"She wants to have him told all about Bittridge."
After a momentary revolt the judge said, "Well, that's right. It's like
"There's something else that's more like her," said Mrs. Kenton,
indignantly. "She wants him to told about what Bittridge did that night
--about him kissing her."
The judge looked disgusted with his wife for the word; then he looked
"Yes, and she won't have a word to say to him till he is told, and unless
he is told she will refuse him."
"Did she say that?"
"No, but I know she will."
"If she didn't say she would, I think we may take the chances that she
"No, we mustn't take any such chances. You must tell him."
"I? No, I couldn't manage it. I have no tact, and it would sound so
confoundedly queer, coming from one man to another. It would be--
indelicate. It's something that nobody but a woman--Why doesn't she
tell him herself?"
"She won't. She considers it our part, and something we ought to do
before he commits himself."
"Very well, then, Sarah, you must tell him. You can manage it so it
won't by so--queer.
"That is just what I supposed you would say, Mr. Kenton, but I must say I
didn't expect it of you. I think it's cowardly."
"Look out, Sarah! I don't like that word."
"Oh, I suppose you're brave enough when it comes to any kind of danger.
But when it comes to taking the brunt of anything unpleasant--"
"It isn't unpleasant--it's queer."
"Why do you keep saying that over and over? There's nothing queer about
it. It's Ellenish but isn't it right?"
"It's right, yes, I suppose. But it's squeamish."
"I see nothing squeamish about it. But I know you're determined to leave
it to me, and so I shall do it. I don't believe Mr. Breckon will think
it's queer or squeamish."
"I've no doubt he'll take it in the right way; you'll know how to--"
Kenton looked into his hat, which he had taken off and then put it on
again. His tone and his manner were sufficiently sneaking, and he could
not make them otherwise. It was for this reason, no doubt, that he would
not prolong the interview.
"Oh yes, go!" said Mrs. Kenton, as he found himself with his hand on the
door. "Leave it all to me, do!" and he was aware of skulking out of the
room. By the time that it would have taken him so long as to walk to the
top of the grand stairway he was back again. "He's coming!" he said,
breathlessly. "I saw him at the bottom of the stairs. Go into your room
and wash your eyes. I'LL tell him."
"No, no, Rufus! Let me! It will be much better. You'll be sure to
"We must risk that. You were quite right, Sarah. It would have been
cowardly in me to let you do it."
"Rufus! You know I didn't mean it! Surely you're not resenting that?"
"No. I'm glad you made me see it. You're all right, Sarah, and you'll
find that it will all come out all right. You needn't be afraid I'll
bungle it. I shall use discretion. Go--"
"I shall not stir a step from this parlor! You've got back all your
spirit, dear," said the old wife, with young pride in her husband.
"But I must say that Ellen is putting more upon you than she has any
right to. I think she might tell him herself."
"No, it's our business--my business. We allowed her to get in for it.
She's quite right about it. We must not let him commit himself to her
till he knows the thing that most puts her to shame. It isn't enough for
us to say that it was really no shame. She feels that it casts a sort of
stain--you know what I mean, Sarah, and I believe I can make this young
man know. If I can't, so much the worse for him. He shall never see
"Do you think he would be worthy of her if he couldn't?"
"I think Ellen is perfectly ridiculous."
"Then that shows that I am right in deciding not to leave this thing to
you. I feel as she does about it, and I intend that he shall."
"Do you intend to let her run the chance of losing him?"
"That is what I intend to do."
"Well, then, I'll tell you what: I am going to stay right here. We will
both see him; it's right for us to do it." But at a rap on the parlor
door Mrs. Kenton flew to that of her own room, which she closed upon her
with a sort of Parthian whimper, "Oh, do be careful, Rufus!"
Whether Kenton was careful or not could never be known, from either
Kenton himself or from Breckon. The judge did tell him everything, and
the young man received the most damning details of Ellen's history with a
radiant absence which testified that they fell upon a surface sense of
Kenton, and did not penetrate to the all-pervading sense of Ellen herself
below. At the end Kenton was afraid he had not understood.
"You understand," he said, "that she could not consent to see you before
you knew just how weak she thought she had been." The judge stiffened to
defiance in making this humiliation. "I don't consider, myself, that she
was weak at all."
"Of course not!" Breckon beamed back at him.
"I consider that throughout she acted with the greatest--greatest--And
that in that affair, when he behaved with that--that outrageous
impudence, it was because she had misled the scoundrel by her kindness,
her forbearance, her wish not to do him the least shadow of injustice,
but to give him every chance of proving himself worthy of her tolerance;
The judge choked, and Breckon eagerly asked, "And shall I--may I see her
"Why--yes," the judge faltered. "If you're sure--"
"What about?" Breckon demanded.
"I don't know whether she will believe that I have told you."
"I will try to convince her. Where shall I see her?"
"I will go and tell her you are here. I will bring her--"
Kenton passed into the adjoining room, where his wife laid hold of him,
almost violently. "You did it beautifully, Rufus," she huskily
whispered, "and I was so afraid you would spoil everything. Oh, how
manly you were, and how perfect he was! But now it's my turn, and I will
go and bring Ellen--You will let me, won't you?"
"You may do anything you please, Sarah. I don't want to have any more of
this," said the judge from the chair he had dropped into.
"Well, then, I will bring her at once," said Mrs. Kenton, staying only in
her gladness to kiss him on his gray head; he received her embrace with a
superficial sultriness which did not deceive her.
Ellen came back without her mother, and as soon as she entered the room,
and Breckon realized that she had come alone, he ran towards her as if to
take her in his arms. But she put up her hand with extended fingers, and
held him lightly off.
"Did poppa tell you?" she asked, with a certain defiance. She held her
head up fiercely, and spoke steadily, but he could see the pulse beating
in her pretty neck.
"Yes, he told me--"
"Oh, I love you, Ellen--"
"That isn't it. Did you care?"
Breckon had an inspiration, an inspiration from the truth that dwelt at
the bottom of his soul and had never yet failed to save him. He let his
arms fall and answered, desperately: "Yes, I did. I wished it hadn't
happened." He saw the pulse in her neck cease to beat, and he swiftly
added, "But I know that it happened just because you were yourself, and
"If you had said you didn't care," she breathlessly whispered, "I would
never have spoken to you. He felt a conditional tremor creeping into the
fingers which had been so rigid against his breast. "I don't see how I
lived through it! Do you think you can?"
"I think so," he returned, with a faint, far suggestion of levity that
brought from her an imperative, imploring--
Then he added, solemnly, "It had no more to do with you, Ellen, than an
offence from some hateful animal--"
"Oh, how good you are!" The fingers folded themselves, and her arms
weakened so that there was nothing to keep him from drawing her to him.
"What--what are you doing?" she asked, with her face smothered against
"Oh, Ell-en, Ellen, Ellen! Oh, my love, my dearest, my best!"
"But I have been such a fool!" she protested, imagining that she was
going to push him from her, but losing herself in him more and more.
"Yes, yes, darling! I know it. That's why I love you so!"
"There is just one thing," said the judge, as he wound up his watch that
night, "that makes me a little uneasy still."
Mrs. Kenton, already in her bed turned her face upon him with a
despairing "Tchk! Dear! What is it? I thought we had talked over
"We haven't got Lottie's consent yet."
"Well, I think I see myself asking Lottie!" Mrs. Kenton began, before
she realized her husband's irony. She added, "How could you give me such
"Well, Lottie has bossed us so long that I couldn't help mentioning it,"
said the judge.
It was a lame excuse, and in its most potential implication his
suggestion proved without reason. If Lottie never gave her explicit
approval to Ellen's engagement, she never openly opposed it. She treated
it, rather, with something like silent contempt, as a childish weakness
on Ellen's part which was beneath her serious consideration. Towards
Breckon, her behavior hardly changed in the severity which she had
assumed from the moment she first ceased to have any use for him.
"I suppose I will have to kiss him," she said, gloomily, when her mother
told her that he was to be her brother, and she performed the rite with
as much coldness as was ever put in that form of affectionate welcome.
It is doubtful if Breckon perfectly realized its coldness; he never knew
how much he enraged her by acting as if she were a little girl, and
saying lightly, almost trivially, "I'm so glad you're going to be a
sister to me."
With Ellen, Lottie now considered herself quits, and from the first hour
of Ellen's happiness she threw off all the care with all the apparent
kindness which she had used towards her when she was a morbid invalid.
Here again, if Lottie had minded such a thing, she might have been as
much vexed by Ellen's attitude as by Breckon's. Ellen never once noticed
the withdrawal of her anxious oversight, or seemed in the least to miss
it. As much as her meek nature would allow, she arrogated to herself the
privileges and prerogatives of an elder sister, and if it had been
possible to make Lottie ever feel like a chit, there were moments when
Ellen's behavior would have made her feel like a chit. It was not till
after their return to Tuskingum that Lottie took her true place in
relation to the affair, and in the preparations for the wedding, which
she appointed to be in the First Universalist Church, overruling both her
mother's and sister's preferences for a home wedding, that Lottie rose in
due authority. Mrs. Kenton had not ceased to feel quelled whenever her
younger daughter called her mother instead of momma, and Ellen seemed not
really to care. She submitted the matter to Breckon, who said, "Oh yes,
if Lottie wishes," and he laughed when Ellen confessed, "Well, I said
With the lifting of his great anxiety, he had got back to that lightness
which was most like him, and he could not always conceal from Lottie
herself that he regarded her as a joke. She did not mind it, she said,
from such a mere sop as, in the vast content of his love, he was.
This was some months after Lottie had got at Scheveningen from Mr.
Plumpton that letter which decided her that she had no use for him.
There came the same day, and by the same post with it, a letter from one
of her young men in Tuskingum, who had faithfully written to her all the
winter before, and had not intermitted his letters after she went abroad.
To Kenton he had always seemed too wise if not too good for Lottie, but
Mrs. Kenton, who had her own doubts of Lottie, would not allow this when
it came to the question, and said, woundedly, that she did not see why
Lottie was not fully his equal in every way.
"Well," the judge suggested, "she isn't the first young lawyer at the
"Well, I wouldn't wish her to be," said Mrs. Kenton, who did not often
"Well, I don't know that I would," her husband assented, and he added,
"Pretty good, Sarah."
"Lottie," her mother summed up, "is practical, and she is very neat. She
won't let Mr. Elroy go around looking so slovenly. I hope she will make
him have his hair cut, and not look as if it were bitten off. And I
don't believe he's had his boots blacked since--"
"He was born," the judge proposed, and she assented.
"Yes. She is very saving, and he is wasteful. It will be a very good
match. You can let them build on the other corner of the lot, if Ellen
is going to be in New York. I would miss Lottie more than Ellen about
the housekeeping, though the dear knows I will miss them both badly
"Well, you can break off their engagements," said the judge.
As yet, and until Ellen was off her hands, Lottie would not allow Mr.
Elroy to consider himself engaged to her. His conditional devotion did
not debar him from a lover's rights, and, until Breckon came on from New
York to be married, there was much more courtship of Lottie than of Ellen
in the house. But Lottie saved herself in the form if not the fact, and
as far as verbal terms were concerned, she was justified by them in
declaring that she would not have another sop hanging round.
It was Boyne, and Boyne alone, who had any misgivings in regard to
Ellen's engagement, and these were of a nature so recondite that when he
came to impart them to his mother, before they left Scheveningen, and
while there was yet time for that conclusion which his father suggested
to Mrs. Kenton too late, Boyne had an almost hopeless difficulty in
stating them. His approaches, even, were so mystical that his mother was
forced to bring him to book sharply.
"Boyne, if you don't tell me right off just what you mean, I don't know
what I will do to you! What are you driving at, for pity's sake? Are
you saying that she oughtn't to be engaged to Mr. Breckon?"
"No, I'm not saying that, momma," said Boyne, in a distress that caused
his mother to take a reef in her impatience.
"Well, what are you saying, then?"
"Why, you know how Ellen is, momma. You know how conscientious and--and
--sensitive. Or, I don't mean sensitive, exactly."
"Well, I don't think she ought to be engaged to Mr. Breckon out of--
"Yes. I just know that she thinks--or it would be just like her--that he
saved me that day. But he only met me about a second before we came to
her and poppa, and the officers were taking me right along towards them."
Mrs. Kenton held herself stormily in, and he continued: "I know that he
translated for us before the magistrate, but the magistrate could speak a
little English, and when he saw poppa he saw that it was all right,
anyway. I don't want to say anything against Mr. Breckon, and I think he
behaved as well any one could; but if Ellen is going to marry him out of
gratitude for saving me--"
Mrs. Kenton could hold in no longer. "And is this what you've been
bothering the life half out of me for, for the last hour?"
"Well, I thought you ought to look at it in that light, momma."
"Well, Boyne," said his mother, "sometimes I think you're almost a fool!"
and she turned her back upon her son and left him.
Boyne's place in the Kenton family, for which he continued to have the
highest regard, became a little less difficult, a little less
incompatible with his self-respect as time went on. His spirit, which
had lagged a little after his body in stature, began, as his father said,
to catch up. He no longer nourished it so exclusively upon heroical
romance as he had during the past year, and after his return to Tuskingum
he went into his brother Richard's once, and manifested a certain
curiosity in the study of the law. He read Blackstone, and could give a
fair account of his impressions of English law to his father. He had
quite outlived the period of entomological research, and he presented his
collections of insects (somewhat moth-eaten) to his nephew, on whom he
also bestowed his postage-stamp album; Mary Kenton accepted them in
trust, the nephew being of yet too tender years for their care. In the
preoccupations of his immediate family with Ellen's engagement, Boyne
became rather close friends with his sister-in-law, and there were times
when he was tempted to submit to her judgment the question whether the
young Queen of Holland did not really beckon to him that day. But
pending the hour when he foresaw that Lottie should come out with the
whole story, in some instant of excitement, Boyne had not quite the heart
to speak of his experience. It assumed more and more respectability with
him, and lost that squalor which had once put him to shame while it was
yet new. He thought that Mary might be reasoned into regarding him as
the hero of an adventure, but he is still hesitating whether to confide
in her. In the meantime she knows all about it. Mary and Richard both
approved of Ellen's choice, though they are somewhat puzzled to make out
just what Mr. Breckon's religion is, and what his relations to his charge
in New York may be. These do not seem to them quite pastoral, and he
himself shares their uncertainty. But since his flock does not include
Mrs. Rasmith and her daughter, he is content to let the question remain
in abeyance. The Rasmiths are settled in Rome with an apparent
permanency which they have not known elsewhere for a long time, and they
have both joined in the friendliest kind of letter on his marriage to
their former pastor, if that was what Breckon was. They have professed
to know from the first that he was in love with Ellen, and that he is in
love with her now is the strong present belief of his flock, if they are
a flock, and if they may be said to have anything so positive as a belief
in regard to anything.
Judge Kenton has given the Elroys the other corner of the lot, and has
supplied them the means of building on it. Mary and Lottie run
diagonally into the home-house every day, and nothing keeps either from
coming into authority over the old people except the fear of each other
in which they stand. The Kentons no longer make any summer journeys,
but in the winter they take Boyne and go to see Ellen in New York. They
do not stay so long as Mrs. Kenton would like. As soon as they have
fairly seen the Breckons, and have settled comfortably down in their
pleasant house on West Seventy-fourth Street, she detects him in a secret
habit of sighing, which she recognizes as the worst symptom of
homesickness, and then she confides to Ellen that she supposes Mr. Kenton
will make her go home with him before long. Ellen knows it is useless to
interfere. She even encourages her father's longings, so far as
indulging his clandestine visits to the seedsman's, and she goes with him
to pick up second-hand books about Ohio in the War at the dealers', who
remember the judge very flatteringly.
As February draws on towards March it becomes impossible to detain
Kenton. His wife and son return with him to Tuskingum, where Lottie has
seen to the kindling of a good fire in the furnace against their arrival,
and has nearly come to blows with Mary about provisioning them for the
first dinner. Then Mrs. Kenton owns, with a comfort which she will not
let her husband see, that there is no place like home, and they take up
their life in the place where they have been so happy and so unhappy. He
reads to her a good deal at night, and they play a game of checkers
usually before they go to bed; she still cheats without scruple, for, as
she justly says, he knows very well that she cannot bear to be beaten.
The colonel, as he is still invariably known to his veterans, works
pretty faithfully at the regimental autobiography, and drives round the
country, picking up material among them, in a buggy plastered with mud.
He has imagined, since his last visit to Breckon, who dictates his
sermons, if they are sermons, taking a stenographer with him, and the
young lady, who is in deadly terror of the colonel's driving, is of the
greatest use to him, in the case of veterans who will not or cannot give
down (as they say in their dairy-country parlance), and has already
rescued many reminiscences from perishing in their faltering memories.
She writes them out in the judge's library when the colonel gets home,
and his wife sometimes surprises Mr. Kenton correcting them there at
night after she supposes he has gone to bed.
Since it has all turned out for the best concerning Bittridge, she no
longer has those pangs of self-reproach for Richard's treatment of him
which she suffered while afraid that if the fact came to Ellen's
knowledge it might make her refuse Breckon. She does not find her
daughter's behavior in the matter so anomalous as it appears to the
He is willing to account for it on the ground of that inconsistency which
he has observed in all human behavior, but Mrs. Kenton is not inclined to
admit that it is so very inconsistent. She contends that Ellen had
simply lived through that hateful episode of her psychological history,
as she was sure to do sooner or later and as she was destined to do as
soon as some other person arrived to take her fancy.
If this is the crude, common-sense view of the matter, Ellen herself is
able to offer no finer explanation, which shall at the same time be more
thorough. She and her husband have not failed to talk the affair over,
with that fulness of treatment which young married people give their past
when they have nothing to conceal from each other. She has attempted to
solve the mystery by blaming herself for a certain essential levity of
nature which, under all her appearance of gravity, sympathized with
levity in others, and, for what she knows to the contrary, with something
ignoble and unworthy in them. Breckon, of course, does not admit this,
but he has suggested that she was first attracted to him by a certain
unseriousness which reminded her of Bittridge, in enabling him to take
her seriousness lightly. This is the logical inference which he makes
from her theory of herself, but she insists that it does not follow; and
she contends that she was moved to love him by an instant sense of his
goodness, which she never lost, and in which she was trying to equal
herself with him by even the desperate measure of renouncing her
happiness, if that should ever seem her duty, to his perfection. He says
this is not very clear, though it is awfully gratifying, and he does not
quite understand why Mrs. Bittridge's letter should have liberated Ellen
from her fancied obligations to the past. Ellen can only say that it did
so by making her so ashamed ever to have had anything to do with such
people, and making her see how much she had tried her father and mother
by her folly. This again Breckon contends is not clear, but he says we
live in a universe of problems in which another, more or less, does not
much matter. He is always expecting that some chance shall confront him
with Bittridge, and that the man's presence will explain everything; for,
like so many Ohio people who leave their native State, the Bittridges
have come East instead of going West, in quitting the neighborhood of
Tuskingum. He is settled with his idolized mother in New York, where he
is obscurely attached to one of the newspapers. That he has as yet
failed to rise from the ranks in the great army of assignment men may be
because moral quality tells everywhere, and to be a clever blackguard is
not so well as to be simply clever. If ever Breckon has met his alter
ego, as he amuses himself in calling him, he has not known it, though
Bittridge may have been wiser in the case of a man of Breckon's
publicity, not to call it distinction. There was a time, immediately
after the Breckons heard from Tuskingum that the Bittridges were in New
York, when Ellen's husband consulted her as to what might be his duty
towards her late suitor in the event which has not taken place, and when
he suggested, not too seriously, that Richard's course might be the
solution. To his suggestion Ellen answered: "Oh no, dear! That was
wrong," and this remains also Richard's opinion.
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
A nature which all modesty and deference seemed left out of
All but took the adieus out of Richard's hands
Americans spoil their women! "Well, their women are worth it"
An inscrutable frown goes far in such exigencies
Another problem, more or less, does not much matter
Certain comfort in their mutual discouragement
Conscience to own the fact and the kindness to deny it
Fatuity of a man in such things
Fatuity of age regarding all the things of the past
Fertile in difficulties and so importunate for their solution
Girl is never so much in danger of having her heart broken
Good comrades, as elderly married people are apt to be
He was too little used to deference from ladies
Impart their sufferings as well as their pleasures to each other
Know more of their clothes than the people they buy them of
Learning to ask her no questions about herself
Left him alone to the first ecstasy of his homesickness
Living in the present
Melting into pity against all sense of duty
Misgiving of a blessed immortality
More faith in her wisdom than she had herself
More helpful with trouble to be ignorant of its cause
Not find more harm in them, if you did not bring it with you
Not what their mothers but what their environments made them
Pain of the preparations for a day's pleasure
Part of her pride not to ask
Performance of their common duty must fall wholly to her
Petted person in her youth, perhaps, and now she petted herself
Place where they have been so happy and so unhappy
Provoked that her mother would not provoke her further
Question whether the fellow was more a fool or a fraud
Relationship when one gives a reproof and the other accepts it
Relieved from a discoverer's duties to Europe
Renunciation of his judgment in deference to the good woman
Waiting with patience for the term of his exile
We have to make-believe before we can believe anything
When he got so far beyond his depth
Why, at his age, should he be going into exile
Wife was glad of the release from housekeeping
Worst whim was having no wish that could be ascertained
By William Dean Howells
It was their first summer at Middlemount and the Landers did not know the
roads. When they came to a place where they had a choice of two, she
said that now he must get out of the carry-all and ask at the house
standing a little back in the edge of the pine woods, which road they
ought to take for South Middlemount. She alleged many cases in which
they had met trouble through his perverse reluctance to find out where
they were before he pushed rashly forward in their drives. Whilst she
urged the facts she reached forward from the back seat where she sat, and
held her hand upon the reins to prevent his starting the horse, which was
impartially cropping first the sweet fern on one side and then the
blueberry bushes on the other side of the narrow wheel-track. She
declared at last that if he would not get out and ask she would do it
herself, and at this the dry little man jerked the reins in spite of her,
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