Mrs. Kenton's difficulties in setting her husband right were indefinitely heightened by the suspicion that the most unsuspicious of men fell into concerning Breckon. Did Breckon suppose that the matter could be turned off in that way? he stupidly demanded; and when he was extricated from this error by his wife's representation that Breckon had not changed at all, but had never told Ellen that he wished to speak with him of anything but his returning to his society, Kenton still could not accept the fact. He would have contended that at least the other matter must have been in Breckon's mind; and when he was beaten from this position, and convinced that the meaning they had taken from Ellen's words had never been in any mind but their own, he fell into humiliation so abject that he could hide it only by the hauteur with which he carried himself towards Breckon when they met at dinner. He would scarcely speak to the young man; Ellen did not come to the table; Lottie and Boyne and their friend Mr. Pogis were dining with the Rasmiths, and Mrs. Kenton had to be, as she felt, cringingly kind to Breckon in explaining just the sort of temporary headache that kept her eldest daughter away. He was more than ordinarily sympathetic and polite, but he was manifestly bewildered by Kenton's behavior. He refused an hilarious invitation from Mrs. Rasmith, when he rose from table, to stop and have his coffee with her on his way out of the saloon. His old adorer explained that she had ordered a small bottle of champagne in honor of its being the night before they were to get into Boulogne, and that he ought to sit down and help her keep the young people straight. Julia, she brokenly syllabled, with the gay beverage bubbling back into her throat, was not the least use; she was worse than any. Julia did not look it, in the demure regard which she bent upon her amusing mother, and Breckon persisted in refusing. He said he thought he might safely leave them to Boyne, and Mrs. Rasmith said into her handkerchief, "Oh yes! Boyne!" and pressed Boyne's sleeve with her knobbed and jewelled fingers.
It was evident where most of the small bottle had gone, but Breckon was none the cheerfuller for the spectacle of Mrs. Rasmith. He could not have a moment's doubt as to the sort of work he had been doing in New York if she were an effect of it, and he turned his mind from the sad certainty back to the more important inquiry as to what offence his wish to advise with Judge Kenton could have conveyed. Ellen had told him in the afternoon that she had spoken with her father about it, and she had not intimated any displeasure or reluctance on him; but apparently he had decided not to suffer himself to be approached.
It might be as well. Breckon had not been able to convince himself that his proposal to consult Judge Kenton was not a pose. He had flashes of owning that it was contemplated merely as a means of ingratiating himself with Ellen. Now, as he found his way up and down among the empty steamer-chairs, he was aware, at the bottom of his heart, of not caring in the least for Judge Kenton's repellent bearing, except as it possibly, or impossibly, reflected some mood of hers. He could not make out her not coming to dinner; the headache was clearly an excuse; for some reason she did not wish to see him, he argued, with the egotism of his condition.
The logic of his conclusion was strengthened at breakfast by her continued absence; and this time Mrs. Kenton made no apologies for her. The judge was a shade less severe; or else Breckon did not put himself so much in the way to be withheld as he had the night before. Boyne and Lottie carried on a sort of muted scrap, unrebuked by their mother, who seemed too much distracted in some tacit trouble to mind them. From time to time Breckon found her eyes dwelling upon him wonderingly, entreatingly; she dropped them, if she caught his, and colored.
In the afternoon it was early evident that they were approaching Boulogne. The hatch was opened and the sailors began getting up the baggage of the passengers who were going to disembark. It seemed a long time for everybody till the steamer got in; those going ashore sat on their hand-baggage for an hour before the tug came up to take, them off. Mr. Pogis was among them; he had begun in the forenoon to mark the approaching separation between Lottie and himself by intervals of unmistakable withdrawal. Another girl might have cared, but Lottie did not care, for her failure to get a rise out of him by her mockingly varied "Oh, I say!" and "Well, rather!" In the growth of his dignified reserve Mr. Pogis was indifferent to jeers. By whatever tradition of what would or would not do he was controlled in relinquishing her acquaintance, or whether it was in obedience to some imperative ideal, or some fearful domestic influence subtly making itself felt from the coasts of his native island, or some fine despair of equalling the imagined grandeur of Lottie's social state in Tuskingum by anything he could show her in England, it was certain that he was ending with Lottie then and there. At the same time he was carefully defining himself from the Rasmiths, with whom he must land. He had his state-room things put at an appreciable distance, where he did not escape a final stab from Lottie.
"Oh, do give me a rose out of that," she entreated, in travestied imploring, as he stood looking at a withered bouquet which the steward had brought up with his rugs.
"I'm takin' it home," he explained, coldly.
"And I want to take a rose back to New York. I want to give it to a friend of mine there."
Mr. Pogis hesitated. Then he asked, "A man?" "Well, rather!" said Lottie.
He answered nothing, but looked definitively down at the flowers in his hand.
"Oh, I say!" Lottie exulted.
Boyne remained fixed in fealty to the Rasmiths, with whom Breckon was also talking as Mrs. Kenton came up with the judge. She explained how sorry her daughter Ellen was at not being able to say goodbye; she was still not at all well; and the ladies received her excuses with polite patience. Mrs. Rasmith said she did not know what they should do without Boyne, and Miss Rasmith put her arm across his shoulders and pulled him up to her, and implored, "Oh, give him to me, Mrs. Kenton!"
Boyne stole an ashamed look at his mother, and his father said, with an unbending to Breckon which must have been the effect of severe expostulation from Mrs. Kenton, "I suppose you and the ladies will go to Paris together."
"Why, no," Breckon said, and he added, with mounting confusion, "I—I had arranged to keep on to Rotterdam. I was going to mention it."
"Keep on to Rotterdam!" Mrs. Rasmith's eyes expressed the greatest astonishment.
"Why, of course, mother!" said her daughter. "Don't you know? Boyne told us."
Boyne, after their parting, seized the first chance of assuring his mother that he had not told Miss Rasmith that, for he had not known it, and he went so far in her condemnation to wonder how she could say such a thing. His mother said it was not very nice, and then suggested that perhaps she had heard it from some one else, and thought it was he. She acquitted him of complicity with Miss Rasmith in forbearing to contradict her; and it seemed to her a fitting time to find out from Boyne what she honestly could about the relation of the Rasmiths to Mr. Breckon. It was very little beyond their supposition, which every one else had shared, that he was going to land with them at Boulogne, and he must have changed his mind very suddenly. Boyne had not heard the Rasmiths speak of it. Miss Rasmith never spoke of Mr. Breckon at all; but she seemed to want to talk of Ellen; she was always asking about her, and what was the matter with her, and how long she had been sick.
"Boyne," said his mother, with a pang, "you didn't tell her anything about Ellen?"
"Momma!" said the boy, in such evident abhorrence of the idea that she rested tranquil concerning it. She paid little attention to what Boyne told her otherwise of the Rasmiths. Her own horizon were so limited that she could not have brought home to herself within them that wandering life the Rasmiths led from climate to climate and sensation to sensation, with no stay so long as the annually made in New York, where they sometimes passed months enough to establish themselves in giving and taking tea in a circle of kindred nomads. She conjectured as ignorantly as Boyne himself that they were very rich, and it would not have enlightened her to know that the mother was the widow of a California politician, whom she had married in the sort of middle period following upon her less mortuary survival of Miss Rasmith's father, whose name was not Rasmith.
What Mrs. Kenton divined was that they had wanted to get Breckon, and that so far as concerned her own interest in him they had wanted to get him away from Ellen. In her innermost self-confidences she did not permit herself the notion that Ellen had any right to him; but still it was a relief to have them off the ship, and to have him left. Of all the witnesses of the fact, she alone did not find it awkward. Breckon himself found it very awkward. He did not wish to be with the Rasmiths, but he found it uncomfortable not being with them, under the circumstances, and he followed them ashore in tingling reveries of explanation and apology. He had certainly meant to get off at Boulogne, and when he had suddenly and tardily made up his mind to keep on to Rotterdam, he had meant to tell them as soon as he had the labels on his baggage changed. He had not meant to tell them why he had changed his mind, and he did not tell them now in these tingling reveries. He did not own the reason in his secret thoughts, for it no longer seemed a reason; it no longer seemed a cause. He knew what the Rasmiths would think; but he could easily make that right with his conscience, at least, by parting with the Kentons at Rotterdam, and leaving them to find their unconducted way to any point they chose beyond. He separated himself uncomfortably from them when the tender had put off with her passengers and the ship had got under way again, and went to the smoking-room, while the judge returned to his book and Mrs. Kenton abandoned Lottie to her own devices, and took Boyne aside for her apparently fruitless inquiries.
They were not really so fruitless but that at the end of them she could go with due authority to look up her husband. She gently took his book from him and shut it up. "Now, Mr. Kenton," she began, "if you don't go right straight and find Mr. Breckon and talk with him, I—I don't know what I will do. You must talk to him—"
"About Ellen?" the judge frowned.
"No, certainly not. Talk with him about anything that interests you. Be pleasant to him. Can't you see that he's going on to Rotterdam on our account?"
"Then I wish he wasn't. There's no use in it."
"No matter! It's polite in him, and I want you to show him that you appreciate it."
"Now see here, Sarah," said the judge, "if you want him shown that we appreciate his politeness why don't you do it yourself?"
"I? Because it would look as if you were afraid to. It would look as if we meant something by it."
"Well, I am afraid; and that's just what I'm afraid of. I declare, my heart comes into my mouth whenever I think what an escape we had. I think of it whenever I look at him, and I couldn't talk to him without having that in my mind all the time. No, women can manage those things better. If you believe he is going along on our account, so as to help us see Holland, and to keep us from getting into scrapes, you're the one to make it up to him. I don't care what you say to show him our gratitude. I reckon we will get into all sorts of trouble if we're left to ourselves. But if you think he's stayed because he wants to be with Ellen, and—"
"Oh, I don't KNOW what I think! And that's silly I can't talk to him. I'm afraid it'll seem as if we wanted to flatter him, and goodness knows we don't want to. Or, yes, we do! I'd give anything if it was true. Rufus, do you suppose he did stay on her account? My, oh, my! If I could only think so! Wouldn't it be the best thing in the world for the poor child, and for all of us? I never saw anybody that I liked so much. But it's too good to be true."
"He's a nice fellow, but I don't think he's any too good for Ellen."
"I'm not saying he is. The great thing is that he's good enough, and gracious knows what will happen if she meets some other worthless fellow, and gets befooled with him! Or if she doesn't take a fancy to some one, and goes back to Tuskingum without seeing any one else she likes, there is that awful wretch, and when she hears what Dick did to him—she's just wrong-headed enough to take up with him again to make amends to him. Oh, dear oh, dear! I know Lottie will let it out to her yet!"
The judge began threateningly, "You tell Lottie from me—"
"What?" said the girl herself, who had seen her father and mother talking together in a remote corner of the music-room and had stolen light-footedly upon them just at this moment.
"Lottie, child," said her mother, undismayed at Lottie's arrival in her larger anxiety, "I wish you would try and be agreeable to Mr. Breckon. Now that he's going on with us to Holland, I don't want him to think we're avoiding him."
"Because you want to get him for Ellen?"
"Don't be impudent," said her father. "You do as your mother bids you."
"Be agreeable to that old Breckon? I think I see myself! I'd sooner read! I'm going to get a book now." She left them as abruptly as she had come upon them, and ran across to the bookcase, where she remained two stepping and peering through the glass doors at the literature within, in unaccustomed question concerning it.
"She's a case," said the judge, looking at her not only with relenting, but with the pride in her sufficiency for all the exigencies of life which he could not feel in Ellen. "She can take care of herself."
"Oh yes," Mrs. Kenton sadly assented, I don't think anybody will ever make a fool of Lottie."
"It's a great deal more likely to be the other way," her father suggested.
"I think Lottie is conscientious," Mrs. Kenton protested. "She wouldn't really fool with a man."
"No, she's a good girl," the judge owned.
"It's girls like Ellen who make the trouble and the care. They are too good, and you have to think some evil in this world. Well!" She rose and gave her husband back his book.
"Do you know where Boyne is?"
"No. Do you want him to be pleasant to Mr. Breckon?"
"Somebody has got to. But it would be ridiculous if nobody but Boyne was."
She did not find Boyne, after no very exhaustive search, and the boy was left to form his bearing towards Breckon on the behavior of the rest of his family. As this continued helplessly constrained both in his father and mother, and voluntarily repellent in Lottie, Boyne decided upon a blend of conduct which left Breckon in greater and greater doubt of his wisdom in keeping on to Rotterdam. There was no good reason which he would have been willing to give himself, from the beginning. It had been an impulse, suddenly coming upon him in the baggage-room where he had gone to get something out of his trunk, and where he had decided to have the label of his baggage changed from the original destination at Boulogne to the final port of the steamer's arrival. When this was once done he was sorry, but he was ashamed to have the label changed back. The most assignable motive for his act was his reluctance to go on to Paris with the Rasmiths, or rather with Mrs. Rasmith; for with her daughter, who was not a bad fellow, one could always manage. He was quite aware of being safely in his own hands against any design of Mrs. Rasmith's, but her machinations humiliated him for her; he hated to see her going through her manoeuvres, and he could not help grieving for her failures, with a sort of impersonal sympathy, all the more because he disliked her as little as he respected her.
The motive which he did not assign to himself was that which probably prevailed with him, though in the last analysis it was as selfish, no doubt, as the one he acknowledged. Ellen Kenton still piqued his curiosity, still touched his compassion. He had so far from exhausted his wish or his power to befriend her, to help her, that he had still a wholly unsatisfied longing to console her, especially when she drooped into that listless attitude she was apt to take, with her face fallen and her hands let lie, the back of one in the palm of the other, in her lap. It was possibly the vision of this following him to the baggage-room, when he went to open his trunk, that as much as anything decided him to have the label changed on his baggage, but he did not own it then, and still less did he own it now, when he found himself quite on his own hands for his pains.
He felt that for some reason the Kentons were all avoiding him. Ellen, indeed, did not take part, against him, unless negatively, for she had appeared neither at lunch nor at dinner as the vessel kept on its way after leaving Boulogne; and when he ventured to ask for her Mrs. Kenton answered with embarrassment that she was not feeling very well. He asked for her at lunch, but not at dinner, and when he had finished that meal he went on the promenade-deck, and walked forlornly up and down, feeling that he had been a fool.
Mrs. Kenton went below to her daughter's room, and found Ellen there on the sofa, with her book shut on her thumb at the place where the twilight had failed her.
"Ellen, dear," her mother said, "aren't you feeling well?"
"Yes, I'm well enough," said the girl, sensible of a leading in the question. "Why?"
"Oh, nothing. Only—only I can't make your father behave naturally with Mr. Breckon. He's got his mind so full of that mistake we both came so near making that he can't think of anything else. He's so sheepish about it that he can hardly speak to him or even look at him; and I must confess that I don't do much better. You know I don't like to put myself forward where your father is, and if I did, really I don't believe I could make up my mouth to say anything. I did want Lottie to be nice to him, but Lottie dislikes him so! And even Boyne—well, it wouldn't matter about Boyne, if he didn't seem to be carrying out a sort of family plan—Boyne barely answers him when he speaks to him. I don't know what he can think." Ellen was a good listener, and Mrs. Kenton, having begun, did not stop till she had emptied the bag. "I just know that he didn't get off at Boulogne because he wanted to stay on with us, and thought he could be useful to us at The Hague, and everywhere; and here we're acting as ungratefully! Why, we're not even commonly polite to him, and I know he feels it. I know that he's hurt."
Ellen rose and stood before the glass, into which he asked of her mother's reflected face, while she knotted a fallen coil of hair into its place, "Where is he?"
"I don't know. He went on deck somewhere."
Ellen put on her hat and pinned it, and put on her jacket and buttoned it. Then she started towards the door. Her mother made way for her, faltering, "What are you going to do, Ellen?"
"I am going to do right."
"Don't-catch cold!" her mother called after her figure vanishing down the corridor, but the warning couched in these terms had really no reference to the weather.
The girl's impulse was one of those effects of the weak will in her which were apt to leave her short of the fulfilment of a purpose. It carried her as her as the promenade, which she found empty, and she went and leaned upon the rail, and looked out over the sorrowful North Sea, which was washing darkly away towards where the gloomy sunset had been.
Steps from the other side of the ship approached, hesitated towards her, and then arrested themselves. She looked round.
"Why, Miss Kenton!" said Breckon, stupidly.
"The sunset is over, isn't it?" she answered.
"The twilight isn't." Breckon stopped; then he asked, "Wouldn't you like to take a little walk?"
"Yes," she answered, and smiled fully upon him. He had never known before how radiant a smile she lead.
"Better have my arm. It's getting rather dark."
"Well." She put her hand on his arm and he felt it tremble there, while she palpitated, "We are all so glad you could go on to Rotterdam. My mother wanted me to tell you."
"Oh, don't speak of that," said Breckon, not very appositely. Presently he forced a laugh, in order to add, with lightness, "I was afraid perhaps I had given you all some reason to regret it!"
She said, "I was afraid you would think that—or momma was—and I couldn't bear to have you."
"Well, then, I won't."
Breckon had answered with gayety, but his happiness was something beyond gayety. He had really felt the exclusion from the Kentons in which he had passed the day, and he had felt it the more painfully because he liked them all. It may be owned that he liked Ellen best from the beginning, and now he liked her better than ever, but even in the day's exile he had not ceased to like each of them. They were, in their family affection, as lovable as that sort of selfishness can make people. They were very united and good to one another. Lottie herself, except in her most lurid moments, was good to her brother and sister, and almost invariably kind to her parents. She would not, Breckon saw, have brooked much meddling with her flirtations from them, but as they did not offer to meddle, she had no occasion to grumble on that score. She grumbled when they asked her to do things for Ellen, but she did them, and though she never did them without grumbling, she sometimes did them without being asked. She was really very watchful of Ellen when it would least have been expected, and sometimes she was sweet. She never was sweet with Boyne, but she was often his friend, though this did not keep her from turning upon him at the first chance to give him a little dig, or a large one, for that matter. As for Boyne, he was a mass of helpless sweetness, though he did not know it, and sometimes took himself for an iceberg when he was merely an ice-cream of heroic mould. He was as helplessly sweet with Lottie as with any one, and if he suffered keenly from her treacheries, and seized every occasion to repay them in kind, it was clearly a matter of conscience with him, and always for the good. Their father and mother treated their squabbles very wisely, Breckon thought. They ignored them as much as possible, and they recognized them without attempting to do that justice between them which would have rankled in both their breasts.
To a spectator who had been critical at first, Mr. and Mrs. Kenton seemed an exemplary father and mother with Ellen as well as with their other children. It is easy to be exemplary with a sick girl, but they increasingly affected Breckon as exemplary with Ellen. He fancied that they acted upon each other beneficially towards her. At first he had foreboded some tiresome boasting from the father's tenderness, and some weak indulgence of the daughter's whims from her mother; but there was either never any ground for this, or else Mrs. Kenton, in keeping her husband from boasting, had been obliged in mere consistency to set a guard upon her own fondness.
It was not that. Ellen, he was more and more decided, would have abused the weakness of either; if there was anything more angelic than her patience, it was her wish to be a comfort to them, and, between the caprices of her invalidism, to be a service. It was pathetic to see her remembering to do things for them which Boyne and Lottie had forgotten, or plainly shirked doing, and to keep the fact out of sight. She really kept it out of sight with them, and if she did not hide it from so close an observer as Breckon, that was more his fault than hers. When her father first launched out in her praise, or the praise of her reading, the young man had dreaded a rustic prig; yet she had never been a prig, but simply glad of what book she had known, and meekly submissive to his knowledge if not his taste. He owned that she had a right to her taste, which he found almost always good, and accounted for as instinctive in the absence of an imaginable culture in her imaginable ambient. So far as he had glimpses of this, he found it so different from anything he had known that the modest adequacy of Mrs. Kenton in the political experiences of modern Europe, as well as the clear judgments of Kenton himself in matters sometimes beyond Breekon himself, mystified him no less than Ellen's taste.
Even with the growth of his respect for their intelligence and his love of their kindliness, he had not been able to keep a certain patronage from mingling, and it was not till they evinced not only entire ability, but an apparent wish to get on without his approval, without his acquaintance even, that he had conceived a just sense of them. The like is apt to happen with the best of us, when we are also the finest, and Breckon was not singular in coming to a due consciousness of something valuable only in the hour of its loss. He did not know that the loss was only apparent. He knew that he had made a distinct sacrifice for these people, and that, when he had prepared himself to befriend them little short of self-devotion, they showed themselves indifferent, and almost repellent. In the revulsion of feeling, when Ellen gave him her mother's message, and frankly offered him reparation on behalf of her whole family, he may have overdone his gratitude, but he did not overdo it to her perception. They walked up and down the promenade of the Amstel, in the watery North Sea moon, while bells after bells noted the hour unheeded, and when they parted for the night it was with an involuntary pressure of hands, from which she suddenly pulled hers, and ran down the corridor of her state-room and Lottie's.
He stood watching the narrow space in which she had vanished, and thinking how gentle she was, and how she had contrived somehow to make him feel that now it was she who had been consoling him, and trying to interest him and amuse him. He had not realized that before; he had been used to interesting and amusing her, but he could not resent it; he could not resent the implication of superiority, if such a thing were possible, which her kindness conveyed. The question with Breckon was whether she had walked with him so long because she wished, in the hour, to make up as fully as possible for the day's neglect, or because she had liked to walk up and down with him. It was a question he found keeping itself poignantly, yet pleasantly, in his mind, after he had got into his berth under the solidly slumberous Boyne, and inclining now to one solution and now to the other, with a delicate oscillation that was charming.
The Amstel took her time to get into Rotterdam, and when her passengers had gone ashore the next forenoon the train that carried Breckon to The Hague in the same compartment with the Kentons was in no greater hurry. It arrived with a deliberation which kept it from carrying them on to Amsterdam before they knew it, and Mrs. Kenton had time to place such parts of the wars in the Rise of the Dutch Republic as she could attach to the names of the stations and the general features of the landscape. Boyne was occupied with improvements for the windmills and the canal- boats, which did not seem to him of the quality of the Michigan aerometers, or the craft with which he was familiar on the Hudson River and on the canal that passed through Tuskingum. Lottie, with respect to the canals, offered the frank observation that they smelt, and in recognizing a fact which travel almost universally ignores in Holland, she watched her chance of popping up the window between herself and Boyne, which Boyne put down with mounting rage. The agriculture which triumphed everywhere on the little half—acre plots lifted fifteen inches above the waters of the environing ditches, and the black and white cattle everywhere attesting the immemorial Dutch ideal of a cow, were what at first occupied Kenton, and he was tardily won from them to the question of fighting over a country like that. It was a concession to his wife's impassioned interest in the overthrow of the Spaniards in a landscape which had evidently not changed since. She said it was hard to realize that Holland was not still a republic, and she was not very patient with Breckon's defence of the monarchy on the ground that the young Queen was a very pretty girl.
"And she is only sixteen," Boyne urged.
"Then she is two years too old for you," said Lottie.
"No such thing!" Boyne retorted. "I was fifteen in June."
"Dear me! I should never have thought it," said his sister.
Ellen seemed hardly to look out of the window at anything directly, but when her father bade her see this thing and that, it seemed that she had seen it already. She said at last, with a quiet sigh, "I never want to go away."
She had been a little shy of Breckon the whole morning, and had kept him asking himself whether she was sorry she had walked so long with him the night before, or, having offered him due reparation for her family, she was again dropping him. Now and then he put her to the test by words explicitly directed at her, and she replied with the dreamy passivity which seemed her normal mood, and in which he could fancy himself half forgotten, or remembered with an effort.
In the midst of this doubt she surprised him—he reflected that she was always surprising him—by asking him how far it was from The Hague to the sea. He explained that The Hague was in the sea like all the rest of Holland, but that if she meant the shore, it was no distance at all. Then she said, vaguely, she wished they were going to the shore. Her father asked Breckon if there was not a hotel at the beach, and the young man tried to give him a notion of the splendors of the Kurhaus at Scheveningen; of Scheveningen itself he despaired of giving any just notion.
"Then we can go there," said the judge, ignoring Ellen, in his decision, as if she had nothing to do with it.
Lottie interposed a vivid preference for The Hague. She had, she said, had enough of the sea for one while, and did not want to look at it again till they sailed for home. Boyne turned to his father as if a good deal shaken by this reasoning, and it was Mrs. Kenton who carried the day for going first to a hotel in The Hague and prospecting from there in the direction of Scheveningen; Boyne and his father could go down to the shore and see which they liked best.
"I don't see what that has to do with me," said Lottie. No one was alarmed by her announcement that if she did not like Scheveningen she should stay at The Hague, whatever the rest did; in the event fortune favored her going with her family.
The hotel in The Hague was very pleasant, with a garden behind it, where a companionable cat had found a dry spot, and where Lottie found the cat and made friends with it. But she said the hotel was full of Cook's tourists, whom she recognized, in spite of her lifelong ignorance of them, by a prescience derived from the conversation of Mr. Pogis, and from the instinct of a society woman, already rife in her. She found that she could not stay in a hotel with Cook's tourists, and she took her father's place in the exploring party which went down to the watering- place in the afternoon, on the top of a tram-car, under the leafy roof of the adorable avenue of trees which embowers the track to Scheveningen. She disputed Boyne's impressions of the Dutch people, whom he found looking more like Americans than any foreigners he had seen, and she snubbed Breckon from his supposed charge of the party. But after the start, when she declared that Ellen could not go, and that it was ridiculous for her to think of it, she was very good to her, and looked after her safety and comfort with a despotic devotion.
At the Kurhaus she promptly took the lead in choosing rooms, for she had no doubt of staying there after the first glance at the place, and she showed a practical sense in settling her family which at least her mother appreciated when they were installed the next day.
Mrs. Kenton could not make her husband admire Lottie's faculty so readily. "You think it would have been better for her to sit down with Ellen, on the sand and dream of the sea," she reproached him, with a tender resentment on behalf of Lottie. "Everybody can't dream."
"Yes, but I wish she didn't keep awake with such a din," said the judge. After all, he admired Lottie's judgment about the rooms, and he censured her with a sigh of relief from care as he sank back in the easy-chair fronting the window that looked out on the North Sea; Lottie had already made him appreciate the view till he was almost sick of it.
"What is the matter?" said Mrs. Kenton, sharply. "Do you want to be in Tuskingum? I suppose you would rather be looking into Richard's back- yard."
"No," said the judge, mildly, "this is very nice."
"It will do Ellen good, every minute. I don't care how much she sits on the sands and dream. I'll love to see her."
The sitting on the sand was a survival of Mr. Kenton's preoccupations of the sea-side. As a mater of fact, Ellen was at that moment sitting in one of the hooked wicker arm-chairs which were scattered over the whole vast beach like a growth of monstrous mushrooms, and, confronting her in cosey proximity, Breckon sat equally hidden in another windstuhl. Her father and her mother were able to keep them placed, among the multitude of windsiuhls, by the presence of Lottie, who hovered near them, and, with Boyne, fended off the demure, wicked-looking little Scheveningen girls. On a smaller scale these were exactly like their demure, wicked- looking Scheveningen mothers, and they approached with knitting in their hands, and with large stones folded in their aprons, which they had pilfered from the mole, and were trying to sell for footstools. The windstuhl men and they were enemies, and when Breckon bribed them to go away, the windstuhl men chased them, and the little girls ran, making mouths at Boyne over their shoulders. He scorned to notice them; but he was obliged to report the misconduct of Lottie, who began making eyes at the Dutch officers as soon as she could feel that Ellen was safely off her hands. She was the more exasperating and the more culpable to Boyne, because she had asked him to walk up the beach with her, and had then made the fraternal promenade a basis of operations against the Dutch military. She joined her parents in ignoring Boyne's complaints, and continued to take credit for all the pleasant facts of the situation; she patronized her family as much for the table d'hote at luncheon as for the comfort of their rooms. She was able to assure them that there was not a Cook's tourist in the hotel, where there seemed to be nearly every other kind of fellow-creature. At the end of the first week she had acquaintance of as many nationalities as she could reach in their native or acquired English, in all the stages of haughty toleration, vivid intimacy, and cold exhaustion. She had a faculty for getting through with people, or of ceasing to have any use for them, which was perhaps her best safeguard in her adventurous flirting; while the simple aliens were still in the full tide of fancied success, Lottie was sick of them all, and deep in an indiscriminate correspondence with her young men in Tuskingum.
The letters which she had invited from these while still in New York arrived with the first of those readdressed from the judge's London banker. She had more letters than all the rest of the family together, and counted a half-dozen against a poor two for her sister. Mrs. Kenton cared nothing about Lottie's letters, but she was silently uneasy about the two that Ellen carelessly took. She wondered who could be writing to Ellen, especially in a cover bearing a handwriting altogether strange to her.
"It isn't from Bittridge, at any rate," she said to her husband, in the speculation which she made him share. "I am always dreading to have her find out what Richard did. It would spoil everything, I'm afraid, and now everything is going so well. I do wish Richard hadn't, though, of course, he did it for the best. Who do you think has been writing to her?"
"Why don't you ask her?"
"I suppose she will tell me after a while. I don't like to seem to be following her up. One was from Bessie Pearl, I think."
Ellen did not speak of her letters to her mother, and after waiting a day or two, Mrs. Kenton could not refrain from asking her.
"Oh, I forgot," said Ellen. "I haven't read them yet."
"Haven't read them!" said Mrs. Kenton. Then, after reflection, she added, "You are a strange girl, Ellen," and did not venture to say more.
"I suppose I thought I should have to answer them, and that made me careless. But I will read them." Her mother was silent, and presently Ellen added: "I hate to think of the past. Don't you, momma?"
"It is certainly very pleasant here," said Mrs. Kenton, cautiously. "You're enjoying yourself—I mean, you seem to be getting so much stronger."
"Why, momma, why do you talk as if I had been sick?" Ellen asked.
"I mean you're so much interested."
"Don't I go about everywhere, like anybody?" Ellen pursued, ignoring her explanation.
"Yes, you certainly do. Mr. Breckon seems to like going about."
Ellen did not respond to the suggestion except to say: "We go into all sorts of places. This morning we went up on that schooner that's drawn up on the beach, and the old man who was there was very pleasant. I thought it was a wreck, but Mr. Breckon says they are always drawing their ships that way up on the sand. The old man was patching some of the wood-work, and he told Mr. Breckon—he can speak a little Dutch—that they were going to drag her down to the water and go fishing as soon as he was done. He seemed to think we were brother and sister." She flushed a little, and then she said: "I believe I like the dunes as well as anything. Sometimes when those curious cold breaths come in from the sea we climb up in the little hollows on the other side and sit there out of the draft. Everybody seems to do it."
Apparently Ellen was submitting the propriety of the fact to her mother, who said: "Yes, it seems to be quite the same as it is at home. I always supposed that it was different with young people here. There is certainly no harm in it."
Ellen went on, irrelevantly. "I like to go and look at the Scheveningen women mending the nets on the sand back of the dunes. They have such good gossiping times. They shouted to us last evening, and then laughed when they saw us watching them. When they got through their work they got up and stamped off so strong, with their bare, red arms folded into their aprons, and their skirts sticking out so stiff. Yes, I should like to be like them."
"Yes; why not?"
Mrs. Kenton found nothing better to answer than,
"They were very material looking."
"They are very happy looking. They live in the present. That is what I should like: living in the present, and not looking backwards or forwards. After all, the present is the only life we've got, isn't it?"
"I suppose you may say it is," Mrs. Kenton admitted, not knowing just where the talk was leading, but dreading to interrupt it.
"But that isn't the Scheveningen woman's only ideal. Their other ideal is to keep the place clean. Saturday afternoon they were all out scrubbing the brick sidewalks, and clear into the middle of the street. We were almost ashamed to walk over the nice bricks, and we picked out as many dirty places as we could find."
Ellen laughed, with a light-hearted gayety that was very strange to her, and Mrs. Kenton, as she afterwards told her husband, did not know what to think.
"I couldn't help wondering," she said, "whether the poor child would have liked to keep on living in the present a month ago."
"Well, I'm glad you didn't say so," the judge answered.
From the easy conquest of the men who looked at her Lottie proceeded to the subjection of the women. It would have been more difficult to put these down, if the process had not been so largely, so almost entirely subjective. As it was, Lottie exchanged snubs with many ladies of the continental nationalities who were never aware of having offered or received offence. In some cases, when they fearlessly ventured to speak with her, they behaved very amiable, and seemed to find her conduct sufficiently gracious in return. In fact, she was approachable enough, and had no shame, before Boyne, in dismounting from the high horse which she rode when alone with him, and meeting these ladies on foot, at least half-way. She made several of them acquainted with her mother, who, after a timorous reticence, found them very conversable, with a range of topics, however, that shocked her American sense of decorum. One Dutch lady talked with such manly freedom, and with such untrammelled intimacy, that she was obliged to send Boyne and Lottie about their business, upon an excuse that was not apparent to the Dutch lady. She only complimented Mrs. Kenton upon her children and their devotion to each other, and when she learned that Ellen was also her daughter, ventured the surmise she was not long married.
"It isn't her husband," Mrs. Kenton explained, with inward trouble. "It's just a gentleman that came over with us," and she went with her trouble to her own husband as soon as she could.
"I'm afraid it isn't the custom to go around alone with young men as much as Ellen thinks," she suggested.
"He ought to know," said the judge. "I don't suppose he would if it wasn't."
"That is true," Mrs. Kenton owned, and for the time she put her misgivings away.
"So long as we do nothing wrong," the judge decided, "I don't see why we should not keep to our own customs."
"Lottie says they're not ours, in New York."
"Well, we are not in New York now."
They had neither of them the heart to interfere with Ellen's happiness, for, after all, Breckon was careful enough of the appearances, and it was only his being constantly with Ellen that suggested the Dutch lady's surmise. In fact, the range of their wanderings was not beyond the dunes, though once they went a little way on one of the neatly bricked country roads that led towards The Hague. As yet there had been no movement in any of the party to see the places that lie within such easy tram-reach of The Hague, and the hoarded interest of the past in their keeping. Ellen chose to dwell in the actualities which were an enlargement of her own present, and Lottie's active spirit found employment enough in the amusements at the Kurhaus. She shopped in the little bazars which make a Saratoga under the colonnades fronting two sides of the great space before the hotel, and she formed a critical and exacting taste in music from a constant attendance at the afternoon concerts; it is true that during the winter in New York she had cast forever behind her the unsophisticated ideals of Tuskingum in the art, so that from the first she was able to hold the famous orchestra that played in the Kurhaus concert-room up to the highest standard. She had no use for anybody who had any use for rag-time, and she was terribly severe with a young American, primarily of Boyne's acquaintance, who tried to make favor with her by asking about the latest coon-songs. She took the highest ethical ground with him about tickets in a charitable lottery which he had bought from the portier, but could not move him on the lower level which he occupied. He offered to give her the picture which was the chief prize, in case he won it, and she assured him beforehand that she should not take it. She warned Boyne against him, under threats of exposure to their mother, as not a good influence, but one afternoon, when the young Queen of Holland came to the concert with the queen- mother, Lottie cast her prejudices to the winds in accepting the places which the wicked fellow-countryman offered Boyne and herself, when they had failed to get any where they could see the queens, as the Dutch called them.
The hotel was draped with flags, and banked with flowers about the main entrance where the queens were to arrive, and the guests massed themselves in a dense lane for them to pass through. Lottie could not fail to be one of the foremost in this array, and she was able to decide, when the queens had passed, that the younger would not be considered a more than average pretty girl in America, and that she was not very well dressed. They had all stood within five feet of her, and Boyne had appropriated one of the prettiest of the pretty bends which the gracious young creature made to right and left, and had responded to it with an 'empressement' which he hoped had not been a sacrifice of his republican principles.
During the concert he sat with his eyes fixed upon the Queen where she sat in the royal box, with her mother and her ladies behind her, and wondered and blushed to wonder if she had noticed him when be bowed, or if his chivalric devotion in applauding her when the audience rose to receive her had been more apparent than that of others; whether it had seemed the heroic act of setting forth at the head of her armies, to beat back a German invasion, which it had essentially been, with his instantaneous return as victor, and the Queen's abdication and adoption of republican principles under conviction of his reasoning, and her idolized consecration as the first chief of the Dutch republic. His cheeks glowed, and he quaked at heart lest Lottie should surprise his thoughts and expose them to that sarcastic acquaintance, who proved to be a medical student resting at Scheveningen from the winter's courses and clinics in, Vienna. He had already got on to many of Boyne s curves, and had sacrilegiously suggested the Queen of Holland when he found him feeding his fancy on the modern heroical romances; he advised him as an American adventurer to compete with the European princes paying court to her. So thin a barrier divided that malign intelligence from Boyne's most secret dreams that he could never feel quite safe from him, and yet he was always finding himself with him, now that he was separated from Miss Rasmith, and Mr. Breckon was taken up so much with Ellen. On the ship he could put many things before Mr. Breckon which must here perish in his breast, or suffer the blight of this Mr. Trannel's raillery. The student sat near the Kentons at table, and he was no more reverent of the judge's modest convictions than of Boyne's fantastic preoccupations. The worst of him was that you could not help liking him: he had a fascination which the boy felt while he dreaded him, and now and then he did something so pleasant that when he said something unpleasant you could hardly believe it.
At the end of the concert, when he rose and stood with all the rest, while the royal party left their box, and the orchestra played the Dutch national hymn, he said, in a loud whisper, to Boyne: "Now's your time, my boy! Hurry out and hand her into her carriage!"
Boyne fairly reeled at the words which translated a passage of the wild drama playing itself in his brain, and found little support in bidding his tormentor, "Shut up!" The retort, rude as it was, seemed insufficient, but Boyne tried in vain to think of something else. He tried to punish him by separating Lottie from him, but failed as signally in that. She went off with him, and sat in a windstuhl facing his the rest of the afternoon, with every effect of carrying on.
Boyne was helpless, with his mother against it, when he appealed to her to let him go and tell Lottie that she wanted her. Mrs. Kenton said that she saw no harm in it, that Ellen was sitting in like manner with Mr. Breckon.
"Mr. Breckon is very different, and Ellen knows how to behave," he urged, but his mother remained unmoved, or was too absent about something to take any interest in the matter. In fact, she was again unhappy about Ellen, though she put on such an air of being easy about her. Clearly, so far as her maternal surmise could fathom the case, Mr. Breckon was more and more interested in Ellen, and it was evident that the child was interested in him. The situation was everything that was acceptable to Mrs. Kenton, but she shuddered at the cloud which hung over it, and which might any moment involve it. Again and again she had made sure that Lottie had given Ellen no hint of Richard's ill-advised vengeance upon Bittridge; but it was not a thing that could be kept always, and the question was whether it could be kept till Ellen had accepted Mr. Breckon and married him. This was beyond the question of his asking her to do so, but it was so much more important that Mrs. Kenton was giving it her attention first, quite out of the order of time. Besides, she had every reason, as she felt, to count upon the event. Unless he was trifling with Ellen, far more wickedly than Bittridge, he was in love with her, and in Mrs. Kenton's simple experience and philosophy of life, being in love was briefly preliminary to marrying. If she went with her anxieties to her husband, she had first to reduce him from a buoyant optimism concerning the affair before she could get him to listen seriously. When this was accomplished he fell into such despair that she ended in lifting him up and supporting him with hopes that she did not feel herself. What they were both united in was the conviction that nothing so good could happen in the world, but they were equally united in the old American tradition that they must not lift a finger to secure this supreme good for their child.
It did not seem to them that leaving the young people constantly to themselves was doing this. They interfered with Ellen now neither more nor less than they had interfered with her as to Bittridge, or than they would have interfered with her in the case of any one else. She was still to be left entirely to herself in such matters, and Mrs. Kenton would have kept even her thoughts off her if she could. She would have been very glad to give her mind wholly to the study of the great events which had long interested her here in their scene, but she felt that until the conquest of Mr. Breckon was secured beyond the hazard of Ellen's morbid defection at the supreme moment, she could not give her mind to the history of the Dutch republic.
"Don't bother me about Lottie, Boyne," she said. I have enough to think of without your nonsense. If this Mr. Trannel is an American, that is all that is necessary. We are all Americans together, and I don't believe it will make remark, Lottie's sitting on the beach with him."
"I don't see how he's different from that Bittridge," said Boyne. "He doesn't care for anything; and he plays the banjo just like him."
Mrs. Kenton was too troubled to laugh. She said, with finality, "Lottie can take care of herself," and then she asked, "Boyne, do you know whom Ellen's letters were from?"
"One was from Bessie Pearl—"
"Yes, she showed me that. But you don't know who the other was from?"
"No; she didn't tell me. You know how close Ellen is."
"Yes," the mother sighed, "she is very odd."
Then she added, "Don't you let her know that I asked you about her letters."
"No," said Boyne. His audience was apparently at an end, but he seemed still to have something on his mind. "Momma," he began afresh.
"Well?" she answered, a little impatiently.
"Nothing. Only I got to thinking, Is a person able to control their— their fancies?"
"Fancies about what?"
"Oh, I don't know. About falling in love." Boyne blushed.
"Why do you want to know? You musn't think about such things, a boy like you! It's a great pity that you ever knew anything about that Bittridge business. It's made you too bold. But it seems to have been meant to drag us down and humiliate us in every way."
"Well, I didn't try to know anything about it," Boyne retorted.
"No, that's true," his mother did him the justice to recognize. "Well, what is it you want to know?" Boyne was too hurt to answer at once, and his mother had to coax him a little. She did it sweetly, and apologized to him for saying what she had said. After all, he was the youngest, and her baby still. Her words and caresses took effect at last, and he stammered out, "Is everybody so, or is it only the Kentons that seem to be always putting—well, their affections—where it's perfectly useless?"
His mother pushed him from her. "Boyne, are you silly about that 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 his eyes.
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 Queen.
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 from Lottie.
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 avenged himself.
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?" he whispered.
"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. Ellen!"
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 now."
"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 get something."
"Oh, that's very nice, Boyne. I do like the Queen so much. She's so sweet!"
"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, Ellen."
"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 it here."
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 leave her."
"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 that?"
"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 help off."
"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 get lost."
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 rigid.
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 below.
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 at."
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 eyes.
"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 on.
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 hospital?"