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.”